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American Airlines suit roils talks with TWU

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The decision last month by American Airlines, the world's largest carrier, to sue two mechanic unions in Federal court alleging they were deliberately orchestrating a slowdown in order to increase their leverage in labor talks has escalated tensions and prompted talk of a strike.

Reuters reported that in American's May 20 filings it accused mechanics of causing 650 flight cancellations and more than 1,500 maintenance-related delays since February. "American estimates that, for each day that the slowdown continues into the summer, it will disrupt the travel plans of approximately 3,400 additional passengers per day," the airline said in its filing.

Added to Its Woes

The suit against the Transport Workers Union of America and the International Association of Machinists came as the airline had to roll back its 2019 profit forecast in April, which was diminished by a $350-million loss attributable to the international grounding of Boeing 737 MAX planes that came after two of those jets crashed within five months, claiming 346 lives.

In 2013, American Airlines merged with US Airways to become the world's largest air carrier, employing 31,000 mechanics. The TWU historically represented American's mechanics, while the machinists union covered the US Airways workforce.

Four years ago, American began talks with the unions, which are now being conducted under the auspices of the National Mediation Board. Airline workers are covered under the National Railway Act and their contracts don't lapse, with the terms of the last contract carrying over, pending a declared impasse or the approval of a successor contract.

John Samuelsen, international president of the TWU, which represents two-thirds of American's mechanics, said in a phone interview that the lawsuit was baseless and counter-productive at a time when talks appeared to be "stalemated."

‘Safety Concerns Legit’

"They sued us,........

© Salon