US Airways mechanics could be voting soon to trade in their old union for new representation.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has fielded the needed papers with the National Mediation Board requesting an election. The union says it has collected 2,800 signatures from the 4,500 US Airways mechanics who are currently represented by the International Association of Machinists.
“Through the last 12 years we have taken hit after hit after hit, and we feel that the I-M (International Association of Machinists Union) no longer can serve our needs as our representation,” said Ted Vallandingham, a Pittsburgh-based US Airways maintenance inspector.
Vallandingham said it has been a rough 12 years for the industry as a whole and for US Airways specifically. The company emerged from bankruptcy in 2003.
The Teamsters are moving in the same direction with the mechanics at American Airlines, who are currently represented by the Transport Workers Union. US Airways and American are in the process of merging operations.
Vallandingham said it makes sense to organize under a new union rather than trying to adopt the Transport Workers’ culture.
“We feel that getting a fresh start with the Teamsters at both carriers and bargaining for the best contract for all of us… is best," he said. "We would be better served with the Teamsters.”
International Association of Machinists officials have not been available for comment and Transport Workers officials have used their website to call the Teamsters “thugs” and characterize the union’s efforts as a campaign of lies and misrepresentation.
Maintenance workers at United Airlines are already represented by the Teamsters, and Vallandingham said he likes that the union is already fighting to end the practice of airlines outsourcing their routine maintenance to off-shore and non-union contractors.
“We see some of the terrible maintenance that comes in from those places ... And we feel that is a safety issues as well as losing our jobs to unqualified people,” Vallandingham said.
It is unclear when a vote would be held.