United Airlines To Lay Off 49 Ramp Workers At Detroit Metro Airport

Aug. 09--United Airlines says it is preparing to lay off 109 workers this fall at Detroit Metro Airport and transfer their work to an outside vendor.

The affected positions include 51 customer service representatives, 49 ramp service workers and various other positions. The layoffs are to happen on or after Oct. 1.

United Airlines announced the terminations in a notice filed with state officials that was posted online late Thursday.

The carrier said the layoffs are needed "to have sustainable financial success and run an efficient and reliable operation." The notice did not identify the new vendor or specify whether the workers could find jobs there.

James Carlson, spokesman for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which represents most of the affected workers, said United has been doing similar outsourcing this year at 11 other airports and that the new vendors almost always pay lower wages.

"We don't believe this is a good move by United to outsource this work," he said.

The union workers who have been on the job since April 2006 or earlier have guaranteed employment with United, but would need to relocate to another airport, Carlson said.

A United Airlines spokesman,Luke Punzenberger, said the layoffs were "a difficult decision, but we need to ensure that our costs are competitive."

Contact JC Reindl: 313-222-6631 or jcreindl@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @JCReindl.

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