The Transport Workers Union speaks out about American's bankruptcy filing

TULSA - More than 140,000 jobs in Oklahoma are in some way connected to the aerospace industry.

As to how this bankruptcy announcement will impact the industry as a whole, that question is still unanswered.

Industry leaders and union members continue to think positive thoughts regarding the possibility of the maintenance yard shutting down.

"We just need to keep going like we were yesterday, because our contract is still in full force," said John Hewitt, the Chairman of Maintenance at the local Transport Workers Union (TWU).

Once the bankruptcy legal battle begins that will change, fast.

Union members at American are concerned they will take some of the biggest hits, from retirement to pay and job cuts.

"What I've seen in bankruptcy is the workforce is asked to make sacrifices in bankruptcy while the executives are given bonuses in order to stay and help reorganize the company," said Hewitt.

The TWU believes the airline is blaming the bankruptcy on its members.

"The airline claims it's because of the cost of its labor force, what they have to pay is so much higher than any other airline, analyst will tell you it's the management style of the company," said Hewitt.

Mary Smith is the executive director of the Oklahoma Aerospace Alliance.

According to Smith, the current industry climate is good in Tulsa.

"It's a great place to do business, a great place to live so I look at the positive things we have to offer and wonder why would anyone want to leave us," said Smith.

She talks to the major players in the industry regularly. She sees the positives of filing for bankruptcy, because all the industry leaders look for their best options.

"These are smart business people, they're making decisions that not only affect them personally but affect their companies, I don't know of a single leader in the aerospace industry in the state of Oklahoma that isn't looking out for their own workforce as well," said Smith.

For now it's a waiting game.

"This is a legal process that has to play itself out and it has many directions it could take," said Smith.

The union has planned to file its own claim in bankruptcy court to protect its members.

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