Workers Picket Union

By | September 9, 2006

In a twist, thirty former TWA flight attendants picketed outside the Association of Professional Flight Attendants(APFA) headquarters. After American Airlines bought TWA when it was in bankruptcy in 2001, TWA employees were put at the bottom of the seniority list. They carried placards stating, “A real union protects all of its members.”
At TWA, the Flight Attendants had been represented by the International Association of Machinists, which represents many airline workers. When they became employees of American, their new union put them at the bottom of the list, which made employees with decades of seniority the first to be laid off. A class-action suit over this is still pending in federal court.

AMR, the parent company of American Airlines, got rid of 40,000 jobs between 2001 and 2005. The rehiring rights of the former TWA employees expire five years after they were laid off. And for the post-9/11 layoffs, that will happen later this year. Most union contracts require hiring back laid-off employees before recruiting new ones. But because by contract experienced employees would be paid more, American may be holding off any plans for any recruitment until after they have rid themselves of this potential liability.

They have elicited support from the Teamsters and the Association of Flight Attendants. The AFA represents the Northwest Airlines flight attendants in their ongoing struggle with management.

We firmly believe these TWA employees were given unfair treatment. If TWA had gone under, they would have been laid off and had absolutely no rights. But American bought TWA, and thus absorbed its employees. Thus, their union should have protected their rights by placing them in the appropriate place on the seniority ladder based on years of service to an airline that was now absorbed into American.

Author: Guru

Guru is the Editor of Flight Wisdom and a long time aviation enthusiast.