December 3, 2020
After the merger of American Airlines and US Airways in 2012, the IAM and TWU fought together in solidarity with the singular focus of bargaining the best joint collective bargaining agreement for our members at the new American Airlines. Together, we proved what concession focused AMFA organizers said could not be done, fighting together and winning an industry leading contract, and we continue working jointly for our members every day.
Make no mistake, it was our solidarity that led to a joint contract with over 90% of our members voting to ratify it. Your efforts supporting the negotiating team and walking picket lines nation-wide demonstrated your collective resolve to the company, giving your negotiators the needed leverage to obtain that success for us all. This is an agreement that provides for the industry’s best wage scale, job security, and scope of work protections. Significant financial gains including license, overtime, field trip, holiday, 401(k)/pension, & premium pay. Quality of life improvements include added vacation, sick, holiday, and IOD time off. Add to that the improved contractual shift swaps & profit sharing, the retirement HRA or cash option for banked sick days, and the many other contractual improvements and together we achieved a solid first agreement. And just last week, the Teamsters announced that United’s mechanics will receive an additional 7% raise, on top of the 1% in the CBA, because of the agreement we achieved together as members of the Association.
As you recall, American fought us tooth and nail every step of the way, especially on job security and scope. In fact, American proposed we accept the inferior Southwest/AMFA scope language in return for Southwest/AMFA wages. Using actual current Southwest/AMFA numbers, that language would have given American about a 66% reduction across our Mechanic and Related membership. It would have eliminated the vast majority of our in-house overhaul maintenance, all facilities maintenance and most GSE work, and Line Maintenance work would have been wholesaled to the lowest cost vendors, like AMFA does at both Southwest and Alaska. We not only rejected that misguided plan, we told American and the mediators that would never happen! That’s when American management tried to take negotiations onto JetNet and into the breakrooms where sympathetic AMFA organizers joined the Company in calling for a vote on the Company proposal. It was the membership, both on JetNet and on the shop floor, that blasted American and AMFA’s organizers; telling them that the Company’s “cash for concessions” offer was unacceptable. We can never permit those who promote the Company’s claimed negotiation position, especially via Jetnet or on social media, to lead us. Knowing that the membership had our backs, and that we had theirs, is what fueled our ability to fight on in achieving the contract we all deserved.
And when American turned up the heat and went before a friendly federal judge to enjoin us with bogus claims of an illegal job action, it was the TWU-IAM Association that fought back against American for our members in the courtroom. Unlike AMFA who, while faced with a distinct possibility of going bankrupt, sold out their members and settled with Southwest to arbitrate any alleged job action, we relinquished none of our members’ rights to the federal courts. With the hard work and solid research by several local representatives and members, not only did we not back down, but instead American backed down and withdrew their lawsuit, knowing they could not prevail with their bogus claims.
When the Association was formed, the primary thought was surrounding negotiations to gain our collective membership the best contract in the industry. So, while we have achieved (and in some cases overachieved) the goals set out by the membership with regard to the JCBA, we also recognize that organizationally we are not perfect and that there is much room to improve as an organization. Our goal, and as stated all along, was to address the internal representational issues upon completion of the JCBA.
Many of our plans were slowed down, as a result of the pandemic, so we could put the safety of the membership ahead of all else. Nevertheless, we have been soliciting thoughts on how we can make improvements, based on member feedback. The objective of the leadership at the TWU Locals and the IAM District is to build upon the success of the contract and improve representation for the members. Plain and simple, our goals are your goals, and we are working to put those thoughts into action.
The messaging from the membership we’ve heard is clear, and we recognize there is still much work to do. With the JCBA now ratified, the contracts implementation near complete, and always with our members safety in mind, we can again focus on improving our organizational structure and improving our internal unified processes. With continuing input from the members and elected representatives, we are confident that together we can find sound solutions for the remaining internal representation and implementation issues. We must always be vigilant of management attempting to capitalize on our perceived differences.
Now is the time to further strengthen, and not weaken, our unity! We are addressing our organizational challenges, while enforcing our industry-leading contract, as we continue to work together into the future. We cannot allow the solidarity and power that brought us this historic agreement to be torn apart by the empty AMFA promises that history proves simply do not exist; just ask the mechanics at United or Northwest who were left to pick up the pieces after AMFA failed them.