Published on : Tuesday, May 21, 2019
American Airlines Group Inc. has asked a federal court to halt an ‘illegal slowdown campaign’ by unionized employees. According to them, the slowdown had disrupted the travel plans of 125,000 passengers in the last three months, as 650 flights were cancelled. The airlines say that the mechanics are taking too long to repair jetliners and they are refusing to work overtime in an effort to gain leverage in contract talks. The slowdown led to more than 1,500 maintenance delays. The alleged slowdown will impact travel for 3,400 passengers a day if it continues into the summer, the airline said.
American filed a lawsuit on Monday in federal court in Fort Worth, Texas.
American and the union haven’t been able to agree on issues including pay, health and retirement benefits and limits on outsourcing work. The National Mediation Board is overseeing negotiations between the two sides and will determine the next steps, which could include moving closer to a possible strike.
American said its mechanics ‘en masse’ were ‘taking an inordinately long time to repair aircraft.’ The company also said employees refused overtime and maintenance trips, including weeks “with a 100% field trip refusal rate” at its Charlotte, Phoenix and Philadelphia hubs.
The number of out-of-service aircraft at 7 a.m. each day rose to an average of 44 on May 13 from 36 on Feb. 4, the carrier said.
The union and the company had their 17th negotiating session with federal mediators on April 25, according to the filing.
American said mechanic productivity should be higher than normal due to the grounding of the Boeing Co. 737 Max. American has 24 of the single-aisle planes, with another 16 scheduled for delivery this year. Regulators barred the plane from flying more than two months ago, following the second deadly crash in a five-month span.
American Airlines said that the grounding of American’s 737 Max fleet has freed up an estimated 180 man-hours on average of mechanics’ time per night to work on other aircraft. They complain that the mechanic productivity has significantly decreased.