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Airline Mechanics To Picket LAX To Protest Wage Cutting

by Labor Video Project Sunday, Nov. 17, 2002 at 5:16 PM
lvpsf@labornet.ort 415-282-1908 P.O.Box 425584, SF CA 94142

Rank and file airline mechanics from UAL, American and other carriers will be protesting wage cutting and concessions on Wed Nov 20 at LA and other aiports. They need help.

Media Release

Aviation Maintenance Technicians Against Concessions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 14, 2002

CONTACT: Richard Turk, 707-746-6618 or 707-322-5929 (cell)

Email: cntdrv55@pacbell.net


On November 20, 2002, mechanics from American Airlines, United Airlines and other carriers will hold pickets in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Dallas/Fort Worth, and New York City. Mechanics are picketing to show support for job security and inform the flying public of the declining state of aircraft maintenance today. This is not a union-sponsored demonstration, but a grassroots reaction to the wave of concessions sweeping through the industry. Mechanics feel that cutting more costs in maintenance budgets is not a safe or effective way to make up for a lack of revenue.

"Sending or ‘outsourcing’ aircraft to overseas and domestic non-airline maintenance facilities is a new, disturbing trend," said Kasi Tkaczyk, a mechanic for United Airlines and an organizer for the picket. "One of the many concessions United Airlines wants from their mechanics is that all restrictions on outsourcing be eliminated. This would allow the closing or transfer of its major maintenance facilities throughout the country," she said.

Increased outsourcing will mean more aircraft overhauls will be done overseas. At these facilities, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) readily admits that mechanic certification requirements are simply non-existent and FAA inspections must be announced well in advance and are conducted infrequently. U.S.-trained mechanics are concerned about loss of jobs to foreign facilities where there are no human rights and wages are just dollars a day. Even domestic third party maintenance facilities do not require most personnel to hold a FAA license to work on aircraft. Both domestic and overseas facilities are not held to the same high standards as the airlines’ "in-house" maintenance programs.

While not unsympathetic to the state of the industry, mechanics feel strongly that concessions will not help the airlines in the long term.

"The airlines seem to only talk about high labor costs, but fail to go into any more detail on the subject. Even the lowest paid, non-skilled American worker earning minimum wage throughout the last 20 years got a 54% raise from 1981 to 2001," said Ken MacTiernan, an American Airlines mechanic and the Director of Aviation Maintenance Technicians Association. "Starting wages at the airlines for a mechanic however have remained virtually stagnant for the last 20 years, changing little over 2%," MacTiernan said.

Throughout the late 1990’s the airlines saw unprecedented growth and profitability. During this time, the industry made over .7 billion in profits. At United Airlines (UAL), the mechanics took an approximate 20% paycut and pay freeze in 1994 just as the last recession ended. However, the airlines from 1995 to 2000 made a collective 22.7 billion dollars. United made billion. Much of this profit was lost to questionable investments and "capitalization" to non-ESOP shareholders and executives. These and other costly business decisions and outrageous management bonuses positioned the airlines in a shaky financial shape long before the devastation of last September.

Yet another problem the mechanics are facing is from the government—specifically the Air Transportation Stabilization Board (ATSB). This board was formed last September in order to help the airlines get through the financial fallout of the September 11th tragedies, yet so far the ATSB has denied the airlines their help unless draconian cuts have been made to employee wages. This is a direct attack on what are already depressed wages.

Now only months after settling a contract with United mechanics—which raised the wage bar for all mechanics—the airlines want to take these gains away. Concessions throughout the history of aviation have never once saved an airline from bad business decisions. Eastern, Pan Am, TWA, People’s Express, Branniff, Midway, are but a few that have tried. The mechanics from these and now current airlines, feel there is no need to be denied a decent and fair living wage in order to subsidize the lack of sound business planning that plagues our industry.

AMTs Against Concessions is a network of activist mechanics dedicated to improving their profession.

Aviation Maintenance Technicians Association (AMTA) is an organization created to promote the craft and profession of the Aircraft Technician. AMTA seeks to educate the public about the contributions and professionalism of Aircraft Technicians.

Available for interviews:

Richard Turk

Mechanic, United Airlines/San Francisco

(707) 746-6618 or (707) 322-5929 cell

Ken MacTiernan

Mechanic, American Airlines/San Diego

(619) 395-6681

Dennis Fastenow

Mechanic, United Airlines/Los Angeles

(714) 525-2820

Ben Alexander

Mechanic, United Airlines/New York City

(516) 410-1625 cell

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