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Unions grapple with U.S. Airways-American Airlines merger

STEPHON JOHNSON Amsterdam News Staff | 5/3/2012, 4:37 p.m.

U.S. Airways Group and the Transport Workers Union (TWU), representing seven work groups at American Airlines, agreed on a measure that would cut fewer jobs if the two entities are able to merge, according to information distributed to union members last week. It would be the best-case scenario for the TWU rather than American Airlines' bankruptcy plan.

The TWU released to its 26,000 members details of the contract terms they would receive if such a merger takes place while AMR Corp., American Airlines' parent company, remains under bankruptcy-court protection.

In November, American Airlines filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and said they needed to cut close to 13,000 jobs, freeze or terminate pension plans, curb health benefits and change work rules nationally to trim labor costs. American Airlines asked the bankruptcy court to reject its labor contracts and impose concessionary agreements. AMR Corp. lost close to $12 billion since 2001.

U.S. Airways' terms are concessionary but less severe than the cuts American Airlines is trying to make to its union's contracts and suggests that the jobs of about 3,500 mechanic and ramp worker jobs at American Airlines could be saved, according to union documents.

U.S. Airways also said it wouldn't outsource 1,390 ground crew positions at 30 airports around the United States and 625 cargo and mail handling workers at airports in New York, Dallas-Fort Worth, Miami and Los Angeles. The airline would also offer something called an "enhanced severance program" that includes a severance allowance of $22,500 to TWU workers over the age of 45 who had over 15 years of work experience and relinquish recall rights.

U.S. Airways said that only 1,500 TWU workers would be able to participate in the program.