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McCaskill and Bond Work to Protect Airline Workers In Mergers

Provision included in spending bill would prevent scenarios similar to TWA-American Airline merger

December 17, 2007
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Less than a week after Lufthansa agreed to purchase 19% of Jet Blue, a struggling U.S. carrier, U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill and Kit Bond today secured a provision to the Senate’s omnibus spending bill to provide air carrier employees with a base level of protection during mergers. With 1,253 former TWA employees still at risk of losing recall rights five years after being laid off from TWA’s merger with American, McCaskill and Bond are seeking to prevent similar scenarios from occurring in the future.
 
The provision would ensure a merger process by which airline employee seniority lists can be integrated in a fair manner. If a dispute occurs, the parties can engage in binding arbitration. This provision would make it harder for one airline or union to add the employees of another airline or union to the bottom of the seniority list.  Thousands of former TWA flight attendants lost their seniority after American Airlines acquired TWA and were furloughed after September 11. This provision would help prevent such occurrences in the future.
 
In addition to the recent news about the Lufthansa investment in Jet Blue, news reports are fanning rumors about the potential for other major commercial airlines to engage in mergers. McCaskill, who successfully offered a similar amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act in May, believed that the recent talk of mergers raised the level of urgency to sign such protections into law. She was pleased to work with Bond, along with U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Il), to ensure the provision was included in the omnibus spending bill. The bill is expected to pass in both chambers and to be signed into law by the holiday recess.
 
“This provision is an important piece of the puzzle to ensure workers in the future don't suffer the same fate as the TWA workers. I'm also hopeful it will aid in negotiations towards a final settlement for those workers,” McCaskill said.
 
“Our TWA workers were given promises and only got pink slips, this provision is a critical step in protecting airline workers from this fate in the future,” said Bond.  “It was a pleasure to work with Senator McCaskill to secure these protections.”
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