Skift Take

American Airlines' bankruptcy is a numbers' game to cost-cutters, but it is changing the lives of some of the airline's now-former workers forever.

American Airlines will now lay off 436 mechanics at its Tulsa Maintenance & Engineering Center, 66 more than reported a few weeks ago.

Workers at the local facility, which employs 7,000 people, began receiving layoff notices Thursday morning, a final confirmation they would actually lose their jobs after many months of worry and speculation.

The new totals come as the company recalculates early retirements and other factors that will affect the total number of workers needed at the Tulsa base.

“Despite the significantly reduced numbers of furloughs, involuntary separations are an unfortunate but necessary part of the restructuring process,” said Bruce Hicks, a spokesman for American Airlines.

The company is touting that many of those workers could move into some of the 282 vacancies at the Maintenance & Engineering Center, although those jobs would require less skill and come with lower pay.

American also is planning to cut about 70 fleet service workers, but that number could change in the coming days, an official with the company said.

American’s parent company, AMR Corp., is struggling to cut billions in costs after filing for bankruptcy in November 2011. AMR initially proposed cutting 2,700 positions in Tulsa, but through union negotiations, early retirement offers and other changes, the company has been able to lower that number significantly.

The company has not released layoff totals for thousands of non-unionized workers.

Earlier this month, some 3,000 workers received Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notifications, or WARN notices, which told workers that they were among many that could lose their jobs in the coming months.

The notices were given to thousands of higher-seniority workers whose jobs were not in jeopardy to comply with federal notification laws for mass layoffs.

The numbers for the Tulsa layoffs have changed from previously reported totals as the company gets clearer data on how many employees will take an early retirement option.

Initially, 709 mechanics and related workers took the retirement option, which promised a severance of up to $39,000 for experienced workers. After the deadline, workers companywide were given a week to recant and the number of early retirements dropped by 26 in Tulsa.

Union “bump and roll” provisions and decisions by workers in other parts of the company further affected the final layoff total.

Across the company, 1,564 mechanics have taken the early retirement option.

“These drastically reduced layoff numbers are the direct result of TWU officials making jobs and wages a number one priority for our members here in Tulsa, which is the nation’s hub for heavy maintenance,” said in a statement from Tulsa Transport Workers Union Local 514 official John Hewitt.

“While we hate to have our membership experience even one layoff, our hard bargaining and persistence in bankruptcy court with American Airlines over the last several months has saved thousands of workers and their families from job cuts previously planned by the company.”

Tulsa layoffs by the numbers

Initial estimated layoffs: 2,700

Current mechanics to be cut: 436

Fleet service and nonunion cuts: unknown

Lower-level job vacancies: 282

Mechanic/related early retirements: 683

Source: AMR Corp.

Kyle Arnold 918-581-8380

[email protected] ___

(c)2012 Tulsa World (Tulsa, Okla.)

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

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Tags: american airlines, bankruptcy

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