Teamsters Take on Frontier-Republic Airlines


     MILWAUKEE (CN) – The Teamsters say Frontier Airlines is violating contract and the Railway Labor Act by failing to employ at least 127 union mechanics at its Milwaukee hangar – positions transferred from Denver, where Frontier’s other maintenance work is done. A strike does not appear imminent.

     In its federal complaint, the union says that Frontier Airlines and Republic Airways Holdings, which acquired the bankrupt airline in August 2009, have repudiated its union contracts, refused to arbitrate grievances and fired union mechanics to outsource union work to nonunion employees.
     The Teamsters say Frontier and Republic are contractually required to employ union mechanics until at least March 2012, whose work cannot be contracted out without a furlough of the union employees.
     The Teamsters say that during Frontier’s bankruptcy proceedings, the airline “obtained temporary contractual wage and benefit concessions,” then told the Teamster later that it planned to permanently slash wages and eliminate pensions.
     The Teamsters say the airline also planned to violate contract by laying off union mechanics and outsourcing the heavy-check maintenance work to Aerospace, a third-party vendor in El Salvador, but those plans were killed in an appeal in Manhattan Federal Court.
     After that decision, the bankruptcy court approved a settlement in which Frontier cut wages, but restrictions on outsourcing union work remained, the Teamsters say.
     Now that Republic has completed the acquisition, the Teamsters say, it is contracting out the maintenance jobs again.
     The union says that Republic has claimed that the company “might not have to deal with the Teamsters” in the future.
     Asked about the possibility of a strike against the airline, Teamsters attorney Marianne Goldstein Robbins said, “While it’s always impossible to rule that out, our focus right now is on the injunctive relief that we are seeking.”
     The Teamsters say that 35 union mechanics have been relocated to Milwaukee and were told in a memo – which the Teamsters were not provided – that though they would do the same work in Milwaukee that they did in Denver, they would not be protected by the bargaining agreements and would be paid less, given fewer benefits and put at the bottom of Republic Airlines’ seniority list.
     The Teamsters seek arbitration and an injunction. Its lead attorney, Goldstein Robbins, works with Previant, Goldberg, Uelmen, Gratz, Miller & Brueggeman.

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