Safety concerns are at the heart of a major ongoing dispute between American Airlines’ mechanics and the company. During a bitter contract renegotiation, one worker union issued the stark warning to its 3,500 members to not fly American if they cared about their families’ safety. The issue arose as American Airlines and their mechanics worked to renegotiate a contract. In a recent move, American Airlines sued their mechanics alleging that they intentionally delayed flights. Subsequently, the airline won a restraining order, resulting in prohibiting union members from activities, including using overtime to engage in activities that kept the planes out of commission.
At the root of the issue is safety concerns. The union alleged that there was a management culture of denying reports of aircraft damage and that union members who reported concerns about maintenance and safety were additionally facing retaliation and fines during the restraining order.
A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) investigation from 2015 found instances where the company worked to keep aircraft damage reports hidden. The report found cases where the company pressured mechanics not to document discrepancies and to take maintenance shortcuts. It also listed findings that a coercive work environment existed throughout the airline and that employees were pressured with emotional distress as well as economic costs to the airline to not report problems.
Workers who are union members have the right to engage in union activities in the workplace. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) stated that it is unlawful for an employer to take adverse action against an employee because they engaged in union activities. For workers engaged in a contract dispute, their rights are still protected. Workers are also protected under whistleblower statutes enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which make it illegal to take adverse action for reporting safety concerns. For states that have their own approved whistleblower laws, workers may report complaints via that specific process. If not, they can report a complaint directly to OSHA through the federal process.
The company has submitted documents alleging the slowdown affected more than 175,000 passengers and resulted in the cancellation of 722 flights since late May. The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, which operates Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines, also issued a warning to its members regarding the dispute.
Cherry Hill Employment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Advocate for Your Workplace Rights
If you believe you have been targeted or retaliated against for reporting a workplace safety concern, a Cherry Hill employment lawyer at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. who is familiar with the regulations governing this area of employment law can help. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, and South Jersey. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 215-569-1999 today.