March 8, 2016
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – Teamster mechanics tasked with keeping United airplanes flying picketed outside a shareholders and investors meeting on Madison Avenue early this morning. The protest followed a multi-city job action held 10 days ago, in which angry mechanics turned out at airports around the nation to highlight their ongoing contract dispute with United's leadership.
In February, Teamster mechanics overwhelmingly rejected a “take it or leave it” contract from United, and authorized a strike.
Tuesday morning’s protest included United mechanics from as far away as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston.
United mechanics maintain that the company’s leadership is intent on shrinking wages and outsourcing work overseas, and are currently petitioning the National Mediation Board for a release allowing the already authorized strike to go ahead in accordance with provisions of the Labor Railway Act.
“We don’t want this work going out of the country, which they want to do now,” Allen Cosides, a member of the Teamsters’ negotiating team, told LaborPress.
The union wants United’s leadership to avert a strike, and instead, get back to the bargaining table.
Negotiations have be going on for three years. But in October, United abrubtly cut ties with the Teamsters’ negotiating team and forced them to take a “substandard” contract offer back to the membership that was destined to be defeated.
“They came to us and said, listen, it’s been nice working with you. We accomplished a lot of things in the last three years. But, we’re done talking to you,” Cosides told LaborPress. “It was a closeout proposal. In other words — it was take it or leave it.”
More than 9,000 Teamster mechanics service United airplanes across the country. Workers suffered greatly, losing pensions, stocks and even their livelihoods, when the company slipped into backruptcy several years ago.
"United mechanics are only asking for a contract that does right by their families," George Miranda, Teamsters International VP At-Large, said this week. "These workers sacrificed to save United and now that the company is making billions in profit, it needs to recognize that sacrifice."
United is currenlty spending big bucks buying back stock at the same time it is seeking to reduce profit sharing for machanics by two-thirds, and giving them a scant 73-cent an hour net wage increase annually.