DALLAS — A federal judge slapped the American Airlines mechanics unions with new, heavier restrictions that could include fines and other discipline for maintenance workers that turn down overtime and off-site assignments.
In the ongoing battle between American Airlines and its mechanics unions, Wednesday night U.S. District Judge John McBryde approved the company’s request for a modified temporary restraining order forcing the two unions overseeing maintenance workers to take more drastic steps to end an alleged work slowdown.
American Airlines has argued that a court order on June 14 hasn’t been effective in stopping a coordinated effort to slow down work.
The new court order doesn’t say what kind of discipline and fines mechanics could face, but the unions are under pressure to comply with the judge’s orders or face steeper consequences down the line.
American Airlines has accused the union of a coordinated effort to turn down overtime work, off-site assignments and not having planes ready when they need to take off the next morning — all to pressure the company during contract negotiations reaching back four years.
The two sides met in a trial on July 1, and McBryde should decide later this month whether he should make this temporary restraining order a permanent one.
The International Association of Machinists and Transport Workers Union representing about 31,000 American Airlines mechanics and other workers testified in court that they did everything they could to tell workers to stop coordinated efforts to punish American Airlines.
It’s tricky to point out exactly which employees may be behind the alleged slowdown because no one is required to take overtime or off-site work assignments. American Airlines managers said they haven’t brought complaints about any individuals they suspect of slowing down work, but pointed to statistics that show an across-the-board problem.
On Wednesday, American Airlines filed testimony from managers in Philadelphia and Dallas who said all requests for overtime were being turned down for stretches of a week or more at certain sites.
The new restrictions also call for union leaders to post more notices, conduct meetings and make videos telling workers to stop any coordinated efforts to slow down work.