Teamsters Applaud Oberstar for FAA Investigation

WASHINGTON -- Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa on Thursday thanked Transportation Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar for investigating the Federal Aviation Administration's cozy relationship with airline management.

Oberstar (D-MN) chaired the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on critical lapses in the FAA's oversight of airlines.

"We've been trying for years to get the FAA to pay attention to how dangerous it is to outsource maintenance overseas," Hoffa says. "Our mechanics keep telling us how they often have to re-do work that was done wrong by airlines' outside vendors."

"Airline mechanics have to meet much higher standards in American than they do overseas," Hoffa says. "Mechanics in foreign shops don't even have to be FAA-certificated."

"The problem has been getting worse. Between 1997 and 2006, U.S. airlines increased their outsourced maintenance expenses from 37 percent to 64 percent," Hoffa says.

On Tuesday, United Airlines mechanics became members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, bringing the Teamsters membership of aviation mechanics to 18,000.

"The root of the problem is at the FAA - it has lost its regulatory and oversight bearings," says Kevin Mitchell, chairman of the Business Travel Coalition (BTC). "This is a well-documented problem with aircraft maintenance practices. Woefully inadequate FAA oversight has become a corporate duty-of-care issue for those accountable for business travelers' welfare."

The Teamsters and the BTC are working together for one standard governing the operations of airline-owned maintenance facilities and domestic U.S. and foreign repair facilities.

Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million men and women in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. There are 18,000 Teamsters aviation mechanics and related staff at 12 airlines.