New York, NY – On Wednesday, October 18, members of the Transport Workers Union of America held a
massive demonstration in Times Square to protest American Airlines’ outsourcing of U. S. jobs. TWU Locals 591, 513, and 501 members, representing Aircraft Maintenance, Fleet Service, Facilities/Ground Support and Stores, as well as other supporting locals from around the country, gathered hundreds strong, holding signs, chanting, forming a marching picket line and handing out flyers full of information to the public. Among them were TWU leadership, officers and members of other labor organizations including APA, APFA, CWA, IBT, and IAM. The crowd was massed outside of Times Square Towers, where contract negotiations were taking place.
Brian Parker, Strategic Action Committee coordinator at TWU Air Transport Local 513, AFL-CIO, addressed the crowd, saying, “Every American Airlines plane has an American flag on it. Then why are they sending out American jobs to China, Chile, and Brazil? American Airlines needs to know that we’re not gonna stand for it anymore. We will take them on today, tomorrow, next week, and next year. We’re not playing games.”
Parker told LaborPress, “Consider that the company is called ‘American Airlines’ and is trying to outsource our work to other countries. Consider the irony of that.” He added, “American Airlines wants to call us ‘team members;’ they don’t call us employees. I played sports my whole life. Any team I ever played on always tried to recruit the best – not, as they are now doing – inferior team members.”
American Airlines is currently moving forward with its plan to invest $100 million to build a new aircraft maintenance facility – in Brazil. In this facility, the foreign workers will include many not certified by the FAA, and none subject to the same FAA drug and alcohol testing as the U.S. based workers. Additionally, some American Airlines planes are being maintained and repaired in Argentina, Chile, and other countries, leaving Americans out of work.
Victor Gonzalez, president of Air Transport Local 501, as well as a TWU International Executive Board member, told
LaborPress, “We need a contract now. We’ve been waiting two years, because it is not being negotiated in good faith. We’re concerned about public safety. Who would you rather have [working on the airplanes]? Someone with 20 to 30 years of loyalty to American Airlines, and that experience — or someone off the street? We have the support of pilots and attendants because they don’t want those people touching their planes.”
Supporting that concern, a huge electronic ad was broadcast on the side of one of the gigantic buildings in Times Square overlooking the rally — in red, white, and blue, it asked: “Who’s Working On Your Airplane?” and gave a website for more info, www.AAOutsourcing.com.
Mark Hnat, a mechanic at LaGuardia Airport and member of Local 591, said, “American Airlines is very profitable; they are making more money than they know what to do with.”
In a letter to President Trump written in July, TWU International President John Samuelsen said, “President Trump, you have spoken at length about the need to protect our jobs and stop the offshoring of America’s middle-class. You’ve also spoken about the need to bolster national security. American Airlines’ actions present you with a unique opportunity to address two of your core issues at once. We ask that you look at this situation and let American Airlines and CEO Doug Parker know that this behavior is downright un-American.”
Gary Schaible, vice-president of Local 591, said at the rally, “American Airlines has taken the uniforms off our backs and taken them to Brazil. They are trying to make South America great again.”