January 21, 2015
To the Membership,
Yesterday, your Union filed a four-count lawsuit against American Airlines, Inc. in the United States Court of the Northern District of Illinois alleging violations of the Railway Labor Act. The lawsuit was prompted by Local 591’s concern that our members are being pressured into practices that violate Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs), put their A&P licenses at risk, and jeopardize the traveling public.
Throughout 2014 we have experienced an ugly corporate culture that seems to emphasize pushing planes back into revenue service over all other considerations. Local 591 members located in Chicago and Dallas were driven to file formal complaints with the United States Department of Labor -- commonly referred to as AIR 21 complaints – the allegations of which included accounts of:
- A manager encouraging aircraft technicians to resort to maintenance fraud as a means to improve “efficiency”;
- Managers and supervisors instructing aircraft technicians not to perform lightning strike inspections, despite clear evidence of lightning strike damage, unless the technicians had actually witnessed the lightning striking the aircraft;
- Supervisors pressuring aviation technicians to disregard mandatory federal standards in their remediation of maintenance discrepancies;
- Relegating technicians who reported maintenance discrepancies to a “rogue’s list” and subjecting them to ongoing discriminatory treatment; and
- The possible return of multiple aircraft to revenue service in an other than airworthy condition.
The Department of Labor referred the AIR 21 complaints to the Federal Aviation Administration, which immediately commenced an investigation focusing, in part, on whether American Airlines has abandoned its commitment to its In Accordance With (IAW) program, which was designed to ensure lawful aviation maintenance practices. To date, the FAA has interviewed over thirty aviation technicians, who overwhelming expressed the view that they were under management pressure to disregard FAR and IAW standards.
In response, certain management representatives have attempted to spread propaganda apparently designed to subvert the FAA investigation, asserting that the FAA would only target individual technicians for enforcement action and not the Company.
And then it got worse. Local 591 officers trying to support our members’ efforts to express their safety concerns have been subjected to surveillance and threatened with arrest and termination.
We feel no joy in litigating against our employer. Indeed, Local 591 has offered to sit down and discuss the issues underlying the troubling AIR 21 allegations. This offer was met with a point blank refusal from the Company.
It is our earnest wish that American Airlines comes to the realization that aviation safety is a matter of mutual interest. The sooner the better. Then we can stop litigating and start talking again.
Gary Peterson President
Membership_Letter_Jan_21_2015 Regarding Legal Action Against AA.pdf
TWU Local 591 v AA Regarding Maintenance Fraud Action Document.pdf