Local businesses worry after American Airlines union vote

TULSA - American Airlines employees aren't the only ones facing uncertainty in the midst of layoffs.

American Airlines workers fill the booths at Christy's BBQ on Pine and N. Mingo Rd. every day.
The restaurant owner fears the layoffs will mean an end to "business as usual."

Milad Al-Khouri owns Christy's BBQ, which is right down the street from the American Airlines maintenance base in Tulsa. He has a lot of regulars from the airline.

"We know a lot of people that come here because they come lunch and dinner a lot of times," Al-Khouri said.

He estimates 30 to 40 percent of his customers work at American Airlines. Al-Khouri says in the last few months his business has taken a hit.

He worries it will get worse after the layoffs.

"And if they lay off a lot of people right now, it's going to put our business in jeopardy," he said.

He says the workers' worries have become his own.

"Most of them, they have families, they own houses. And they think, 'how am I going to afford to pay the payment on the house?' And we're the same way," he said.

Some wonder why workers would vote down a contract that could have saved nearly one thousand jobs.

Workers 2News spoke with who voted "no" did not wish to identify themselves.

But they say it goes back to the cuts they took in 2003. Since then, they say their pay has gone down and never recovered.

One worker told 2News "a lot of little things added up to big things over the years."

Another said, "I'd rather be laid off than give them everything."

Now that workers rejected the offer, hundreds of families and dozens of businesses are waiting to  see what happens next.

"We are afraid they'll lay off a lot of jobs, and we don't know what we're going to do," Al-Khouri said.

Union representatives will present their case to the bankruptcy court this week. Then a judge will make a ruling around June 6.

The union says this is the first time in its 65 year history that its members are left without the protection of a contract.

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