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May 15, 2012

TWU’s Lawyers Continue to Argue on Behalf of All Members in NYC Bankruptcy Court Today While Union Leadership Promotes Merger with US Airways as Best Option for American Airlines, its Customers, and Employees

NEW YORK – Election results were released this morning for seven separate work groups at American Airlines represented by the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU). Five bargaining units, representing Fleet Service Clerks, Dispatchers, Ground School Instructors, Maintenance Control Technicians, and Simulator Technicians voted “Yes” -- meanwhile Aircraft Maintenance and Related workers along with Stores Clerks voted to reject the terms in the company’s last offer. Each bargaining unit's vote is binding on the workers in that specific contract group.

Voting was conducted by Internet and telephone balloting and certified by the firm BallotPoint Election Services. TWU members began voting Thursday on a last offer from the bankrupt airline’s management. Voting concluded at midnight Central Time Monday.

Fifty-nine percent of Fleet Service Clerks (3,872 to 2,722) voted to accept management’s last offer; along with 92 percent of Dispatchers (134 to 12); 96 percent of Ground School Instructors (126 to 5); 84 percent of Maintenance Control Technicians (72 to 14); and 85 percent of Simulator Technicians (53 to 9) voted “yes.” With these approvals the TWU leadership will next seek court approval of these five successor contracts.

Stores clerks voted “no” in a close vote (521 to 495) with 51 percent opposed; and the union’s Maintenance and Related bargaining unit voted down the company’s last offer with 56 percent opposed (5,307 to 4,179).

The American Airlines' offer being considered was an improvement over the Section 1113 term sheets filed by management in bankruptcy court in March. American Airlines’ lawyers at that time had called for the judge to approve dramatic changes in working conditions and the elimination of 9,000 TWU members’ jobs. Despite three months of negotiations, no tentative agreement was reached between American and the union prior to the vote. The TWU leadership put the last offers to a vote for each of its seven bargaining units.

The company’s last offer reduced job losses for the two largest TWU work groups. The jobs to be saved in the last offer versus the March court filed term sheets were 1,960 for Maintenance and Related positions (700 through reclassification) and 1,300 for the Fleet Service Clerks. The last offers that were approved contain early out provisions, future raises, and other items.

TWU’s International President James C. Little promised members that they would have the right to vote on a tentative agreement or the company’s final offer. “Our goal from the start has been to create options for our members and to give our members a voice in the bankruptcy process,” said Little. “The bankruptcy courts are designed to protect assets not people. Some of our members found the company’s last offer to be a safer bet than waiting on the court to make a decision. The members in bargaining units that voted ‘no’ thought the proposals were not in their best interests. We respect our members decision regardless of how they voted."

The bargaining units that voted to accept the company’s offer will not see any changes to their employment status, wages or working conditions until after the court rules on American Airlines’ Section 1113 motion to break labor agreements or, in the alternative, those bargaining units reach a consensual deal. The TWU groups that voted yes also received "me too " protection, and as a result will get the same financial benefit that any other union groups receive from a reduction of the total concession sought by the airline. That court ruling on the issue of rejecting the labor contracts is expected on or after June 6. American Airlines is seeking $1.25 billion in cuts from all of its workers.

Labor unions representing workers at American Airlines, including TWU, are presenting their Section 1113 case in bankruptcy court this week in New York City.

TWU, along with the two other unions representing workers at American Airlines, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), and the Airline Pilots Association (APA), are supporting a potential merger between US Airways and American Airlines. Terms reached between TWU and US Airways are on a separate track from either the vote on American’s last offer or any decision from the federal bankruptcy court in New York City. A merger with US Airways would save roughly 1,000 additional jobs for TWU members over what was in American’s last offers, maintain ground operations in 30 cities with staffing by TWU represented ground workers and provide protections for American Airlines’ Tulsa maintenance facility, along with other improvements.

Recently, after pressure from TWU and other creditors, American Airlines agreed to consider a possible merger before exiting the bankruptcy process.

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