The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

American Airlines Mechanics Under Attack

Sep 30, 2019

American Airlines mechanics are facing a concerted attack by the company, the legal system, and the media.

These AA mechanics have been working without a contract since 2015. They are legally barred from striking by the Railway Labor Act. According to the company, mechanics have been refusing overtime and adhering strictly to all safety regulations, which slows down the work process. The company accuses mechanics of deliberately causing problems in order to put pressure on the company in negotiations.

American Airlines sued the mechanics’ unions, the Transport Workers (TWU) and International Association of Mechanics (IAM), claiming that these tactics were illegal. And in June, a judge agreed, issuing a preliminary injunction barring the workers from “any slowdown, work to rule campaign, or any other concerted refusal to perform normal operations.” The judge also said that workers could not refuse “to accept overtime as they would in the normal course.” In other words, the judge said that the workers HAD to accept overtime, and that they were legally barred from following all the safety rules!

On top of that, one mechanic in Miami is accused of “sabotage” and even “terrorism” for setting off warning lights and causing a flight to be cancelled. Now the media and the company are using this case against the rest of the mechanics, trying to paint their work-to-rule and no-overtime campaigns with the same brush, implying that they were endangering passengers—which they were not.

It couldn’t be clearer: American Airlines, like every other big company, has the courts and the media on its side. But the mechanics have lots of potential allies too—the rest of the working class, which has every interest in seeing the mechanics defend their rights.