IAM Presses for Contract at US Airways

IAM members at US Airways continue their fight for a fair contract with the carrier.

IAM representatives at US Airways are continuing to press the National Mediation Board for a release from mediated contract talks despite the company’s stalling tactics. American Airlines CEO Doug Parker tried to paint a rosy picture of good labor relations at the “new” American Airlines during a JP Morgan investor conference call, but the company’s actions were much different.

Parker and his management team have stalled negotiations for almost three years while focusing on the merger of US Airways and American Airlines. The company refuses to settle contracts with IAM-represented employees that provide comparable wage rates to those negotiated with American’s employees who perform the same work.

Even after Parker’s remarks about how good labor relations were, the company continued its stalling tactics at a meeting at the National Mediation Board (NMB) office in Washington D.C., where IAM Transportation Department officials met with NMB Chairwoman Linda Puchala. The IAM reiterated that an impasse has been reached and pressed the NMB to release both parties from mediated talks. Releasing the parties from mediation is a critical step to gain the right to strike.

“US Airways’ refusal to settle fair contracts that provide comparable wage rates to what it negotiated with American’s employees who perform the same work is an insult,” said IAM District 141 President Rich Delaney. “We demand a release from these fruitless discussions so we can exercise our right to strike.”

“We will not walk away from years of negotiations because that is what US Airways wants,” said District 142 President Tom Higginbotham. “IAM members at US Airways sacrificed when needed to save the airline, and now’s the time for fairness, not disrespect.”

In a quarterly meeting in February, Parker stated that American’s goal is to achieve single joint contracts with all its labor unions. IAM members at US Airways have been in contract negotiations with the carrier for almost three years and have demanded that they settle stand-alone agreements before any joint negotiations take place.

“The IAM has stated all along that fair stand-alone contracts for IAM members at US Airways must be achieved before the idea of joint negotiations is entertained,” said IAM General Vice President Sito Pantoja. “With our TWU sisters and brothers, there are almost 30,000 voices at the ‘new’ American who are demanding fairness and respect.”

“The TWU and IAM are partners,” said Transport Workers Union President Harry Lombardo, in a public show of support for IAM ground workers. “Both unions belong to the AFL- CIO. We represent workers that share the same skills and classifications; the nearly 30,000 ground workers represented by IAM and TWU at the new American Airlines are union brothers and sisters. We will not sit idly by as management tries to drive a wedge between workers.”

“I thank TWU President Harry Lombardo for his public statement of solidarity,” continued Pantoja. “Mr. Parker should take notice that clear lines of division have formed at his airline. All we ask for is fairness, and we are prepared to fight for it.”

The TWU and IAM formed an official representation alliance last year after the merger of American and US Airways, and plan to combine both union’s considerable resources to represent TWU-IAM ground workers at the “new” American.

The NMB has yet to issue a decision to release both parties from mediated negotiations and extend a proffer of arbitration.