Aviation maintenance professionals working in San Francisco and Los Angeles will traded their tools for picket signs to protest stalled negotiations with United Airlines this morning. Aircraft mechanics, represented by Teamster Local Unions 856 and 986, called for a picket of departure terminals at both San Francisco and Los Angeles International Airports on one of the season’s busiest flying days.
The protest comes as negotiations enter their 24th month – the last twelve having been overseen by the National Mediation Board. In 2010, United Airlines merged with Continental Airlines and the parties have attempted to amalgamate bargaining agreements representing aircraft maintenance and related workers from three different work groups (Continental, United and Air Micronesia).
“This merger has taken a toll on everyone, including passengers,” said Lucy Ricard, a 29-year aircraft mechanic. “We have the potential to be a world-class carrier, but we need United to believe in us and invest in the human capital we have,” she said.
“Providing affordable healthcare to employees and retirement security are important issues and also based in common sense, said Rudy Gonzalez, Teamsters Local 856 Vice President. “Nobody wants cheap labor maintaining our aircraft. Let’s face it, there isn’t room for error in the work these professionals perform,” Gonzalez continued.
Workers have called for this protest and warn that if United Airlines negotiators drag their feet, larger and more far-reaching actions may follow. The organizing committee of the protest has adopted the motto: “Whatever It Takes.”