American Airlines has been negotiating with its mechanics for more than three years. An agreement, however, has been elusive as negotiations have become more contentious.
Last week, the company sued the TWU-IAM—the two unions who have been representing the mechanics since American Airlines and US Airways merged in 2013—accusing the unions of “directing a coordinated and deliberate illegal slowdown focused on the maintenance operation.”
Following the filing of the lawsuit, a heated exchange took place at a American Airlines employee “town hall” at La Guardia airport between TWU International President John Samuelsen and American Airlines President Robert Isom [see video below].
“I stand here to tell you that you’re not going to get what you want,” the TWU president told Isom. “If this erupts into the bloodiest, ugliest battle that the United States labor movement ever saw, that’s what’s going to happen. You’re already profitable enough.”
During the exchange, which was reported by Travel Pulse, after berating the executive for the $3 billion in profits American Airlines made last year, Samuelsen told Isom that “[i]f we ever get to a point where there’s self-help, we are going to engage in (an) absolutely vicious strike action against American Airlines to the likes of which you’ve never seen.”
“Not organized by airline people,” the union boss continued, “but organized by a guy that came out of the New York City subway system that’s well inclined to strike power, and who understands that the only way to challenge power is to aggressively take it to them. We’re going to shut this place down.”
“I will tell you this, that anybody that seeks to destroy American Airlines, that is not going to be productive,” American Airlines’ Isom stated in response. “It just won’t. I’ll tell you what, the rhetoric that says we’re going to battle, we can’t live this way.”