Teamsters File for Petition to Represent United Airlines Mechanics

CHICAGO -- The Teamsters on Monday filed for a petition with the National Mediation Board seeking a vote to represent United Airline mechanics. The filing culminates a 2-year campaign by hundreds of rank-and-file mechanics to gain strong union representation by United airline mechanics. The Teamsters expect a vote in the next 6 weeks.

"This campaign is part of a larger struggle to ensure the safety and security of the flying public and to keep airline workers in the middle class," Clacy Griswold, Teamsters Airline Division international representative said at a news conference in Chicago.

"Aviation mechanics throughout the industry are highly concerned about the safety and security of our aviation system as more maintenance work is outsourced overseas," Griswold said. "At the Beijing contractor that United uses for some of its jet maintenance there are only five Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified mechanics overseeing 2,179 noncertified mechanics. In contrast, at the United San Francisco maintenance base there are 4,248 FAA-certified mechanics out of a total of 4,542."

"The airline's management now says it wants to sell its heavy maintenance facility in San Francisco," Griswold says.

"United management is betraying both its workers and its passengers who trust that the airline is using the most skilled ground and flight crew employees and the safest equipment," Griswold says. "It is also betraying its workers and customers by trying to sell off its Mileage Plus program.

"Airline mechanics throughout the aviation industry want good skilled jobs to stay in the United States. So do the Teamsters. The Teamsters also believe that any revenues gained from the sale of assets should be used to restore workers' wages and benefits, not to enrich United's management."

Rich Petrovsky, a mechanic at United's San Francisco maintenance facility for 38 years, led the campaign from the beginning. Teamster airline mechanics at Continental Airlines have worked side by side with United airline mechanics. Together they have staffed information booths, knocked on doors, made telephone calls and handed out leaflets throughout the country.

The campaign has also been helped by Teamster airline mechanics at UPS, US Airways (Allegheny), Aloha Island Air, AirTran, Frontier, NetJets, ExpressJet, Executive Jet, Piedmont, Champion Air, Ross Aviation and GE Engine Services.

"Airline workers have made huge sacrifices since the Sept. 11 attacks," says Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. "At the same time, outsourcing of maintenance work has undermined airline safety and security.

"United's airline mechanics deserve a strong voice that will stand up to management's attack on their economic security and on the flying public's safety," Hoffa says. "The Teamsters are ready to be that voice."

The announcement was made at a news conference at the Hilton Chicago O'Hare Airport. Also speaking were airline mechanics Kevin Giegoldt from Chicago O'Hare International Airport, Tom Reid from Dulles International Airport and Kevin Zunker from Denver International Airport.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 40,000 airline employees, including more than 9,000 mechanics and related at 11 airlines.