The Norman Transcript

Opinion

February 10, 2012

AA’s decision a blow to Tulsa

NORMAN — The announcement by American Airlines that it will likely lay off almost a third of its Tulsa work force is terrible news. Looking for the bright side, the huge Tulsa maintenance facility will keep almost 70 percent of its employees working.

There is, however, no way to sugarcoat what is about to happen. Losing 2,100 jobs is a blow to the city’s very fabric.

AMR Corp., AA’s parent company, announced that as part of its bankruptcy restructuring process, it would eliminate 13,000 jobs companywide.

The company plans to close its Fort Worth Alliance Airport maintenance base, terminate the company’s four defined-benefit pension plans, outsource “a portion” of its aircraft maintenance work, cut 15 percent of its management positions and impose 20 percent cost reductions totaling $1.25 billion a year on every employee group.

No doubt, drastic measures were needed to keep afloat. AMR reported a $904 million loss in December and more than $10 billion in losses over the past 10 years.

Employees of AMR have made concessions over the years to try to keep the company above water. Now they will be faced with further challenges. If no agreement can be reached between the company and union negotiators, the company could file a motion in bankruptcy court to reject all its collective bargaining agreements.

American is as much a part of Tulsa’s history as oil. Of its 7,200 employees in Tulsa, 6,800 work at the Maintenance and Engineering Center. Most are good-paying jobs.

The decision by AMR will affect more than the 2,100 employees and their families. It will have a ripple effect throughout northeastern Oklahoma. Many small businesses rely on American for ancillary work. Cutbacks at American could force those smaller companies to do the same.

Fortunately, AMR chose to keep the Tulsa facility open and retain most of its workers. That is no comfort to those who face the loss of a job, but it does allow hope for future employment when and if the company rebounds.

American officials are confident and determined to see that the company and its employees weather this storm. As bad as this loss is, we hope that American remains a vital part of Tulsa and the state.

— Tulsa World

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