American Airlines begins bankruptcy hearings

TULSA - American Airlines workers in Tulsa are watching closely as the airline began hearings Monday in a New York City bankruptcy court.

The airline is considering severing union contracts. On Monday, representatives told a judge it's the only way the company can survive.

Dozens of union workers protested outside of the courthouse.

The Transport Workers Union Local 514 briefed workers on the hearing Monday afternoon.
Workers say they're concerned about their contracts -- and it's still a waiting game.

"This is long and drawn out. And it's, you're watching it day by day, and the stress is very high," said  American Airlines worker Allen Vice.

Here in Tulsa, union workers are watching the proceedings closely.

"Morale is difficult but we're professionals, so we step up," Vice said.

Allen Vice has worked at American Airlines for 22 years as a mechanic and says he loves his job.

"That is the worst part of it. Is figuring what we're going to do moving forward. How we're going to support our families, and support our own retirements," Vice said.

About 2,100 American Airlines jobs are on the line in Tulsa. Overall, the airline wants to cut 13,000 union jobs.

"Our membership will get the opportunity to vote on an agreement. But the question is, will it be a tentative agreement that we have reached with the company, or whether it will be the company's last, best offer," said John Hewitt with the union.

Union members stand behind their contracts. Chris Rhinehart, a machinist, has been with American Airlines for 23 years now.

"They're looking to basically remove 60 years of negotiated language, and it's troublesome for us. It's not anything easy to swallow," Rhinehart said.

Rhinehart worries if his pension is frozen, he'll be working a lot longer.

"Especially if the pensions are turned over, it's a possibility that we may have to go longer before we can retire. How long, I'm not sure," Rhinehart said.

If the unions and the airline can't reach an agreement, the unions will present their case.

The judge is expected to make a decision by June.

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