American Airlines Wins in Court Against Mechanics

American Airlines leapt a big hurdle in court last week over their mechanics after a judge ruled in favor of the airline saying their mechanics intentionally caused flight delays as part of their efforts to secure a new contract. A permanent injunction was issued by the judge in the case giving stricter scrutiny until a contract can be agreed upon.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas issued the Permanent Injunction applicable to the Transport Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO, and the Airlines Mechanic and Related Employee Association, TWU/IAM, and to all employees represented by the Association, the IAM, or the TWU at American Airlines.

The ruling states, “[The company] has shown that defendants’ members conducted a concerted slowdown.” The judge also said the unions failed to “take every reasonable action to prevent or stop it.” The injunction tells the unions to take every step possible to make sure mechanics know that a work slowdown is illegal.

“The purpose of the directive is to instruct all Association, IAM, and TWU represented employees of American Airlines to resume normal working schedules and practices. No union member should engage in any concerted refusal to perform normal operations. Union members must cease and desist all such activity and exhortations or communications encouraging same upon pain of fine, suspension, or other sanction by defendants,” a statement released by the TWU says.

The Union specified to members that they must not:

  • Engage in any concerted refusal to perform normal operations;
  • Refuse to accept overtime and/or field trips as they would in the normal course;
  • Fail to complete maintenance repairs as they would in the normal course;
  • Slowdown in the performance of their job duties;
  • Take any other action intended to cause aircraft to be out of service (and specifically to cause aircraft out of service at 7:00
    a.m.) or otherwise result in flight delays or cancellations or interfere with American’s operations.
  • No one shall threaten or intimidate any employee for accepting overtime or field trips or otherwise performing his or her job duties as he or she would in the normal course.

That TWU statement also said, “All stations must refrain from taking any action in public or private communications that could be construed as a call for a continued slow down or non-compliance with the Permanent Injunction in any manner, including using ‘code words,’ (e.g., ‘work safe,’ ‘work to rule,’ ‘work to contract’) and/or making any statements that undermine or contradict, directly or indirectly, the mandate to restore normal operations.”