Major South Florida employer files for bankruptcy
AMR Corporation — the parent company of American Airlines, which provides a large number of South Florida jobs — filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 today.
Unable to cut costs enough to fend off creditors, American and its parent company, AMR Corp., filed for Chapter 11 protection Tuesday morning while it tries to lower its debt and reorganize its business. American is one of the five largest private employers in Miami-Dade County, with about 9,000 workers.
The Herald adds that American Airlines
is responsible for about 70 percent of the traffic at Miami International Airport, which is one of American’s five hubs across the country. That status meant something of a windfall for Miami during the recession, with American adding flights out of MIA amid cutbacks by competitors across the country. American funnels most of its Latin American connections through MIA.
Sydney Jimenez, president of Transport Union Workers of America (TWU) Local 568, tells The Florida Independent that what is going to happen with the Chapter 11 filing remains unknown, but “if you go with what has happened at other airlines, it is going to be a painful transition for every employee group.”
“It is too soon to tell, but if you go by what other airlines have done,” Jimenez says, “and you see the contract they have you would assume that pensions and certain things in our contract as far as productivity will come into play in order for the bankruptcy process to take place and put them in a competitive stance matching up against the other airlines that have gone to bankruptcy.”
George Rojas, president of TWU Local 561, tells the Independent his union represents approximately 800 American Airlines workers, responsible for aircraft maintenance, vehicle maintenance and storage personnel, 95 percent of whom work at Miami International Airport.
“We have to see what’s gone on with other companies; we expect similar changes,” Rojas says, adding, “Of course if they decide to close or minimize their operations elsewhere that could impact our members adversely.”
“We view this as very unfortunate,” Rojas says. “We’ve been working with the company to secure a contract but it is very unfortunate that things turned out this way.”
The Dallas Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that ”American’s workers gave up $1.6 billion a year in contract concessions to help the airline stave off bankruptcy in 2003,” adding that “for pilots and flight attendants most notably, there are factions within the unions that adamantly oppose any contract provisions this year that would appear concessionary. Still, union leaders know they cannot escape economic reality.”
Allied Pilots Association president David Bates said in a statement issued Tuesday:
I spoke with newly appointed AMR Chief Executive Officer Tom Horton and Vice President-Flight Captain John Hale a short time ago and received assurances that American Airlines will be operating a normal schedule. The announcement of a bankruptcy filing should not cause any interruptions to your flight schedules or problems on your layovers.