AP News

Bag handlers OK Eagle offer, mechanics reject it


FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Baggage handlers at American Eagle approved a new contract, but mechanics rejected an offer from the regional affiliate of American Airlines.

The airline said Friday that it might ask a bankruptcy judge to let it set pay and working terms for the mechanics.

Eagle and American Airlines are owned by AMR Corp., which filed for bankruptcy protection in November. American has asked the bankruptcy judge to throw out its contract with union pilots, who also rejected a company contract offer.

Eagle flies mostly short routes and connects passengers from secondary airports to American Airlines hubs. AMR tried to sell or spin off the regional airline but has put that plan on hold during the bankruptcy process.

The Transport Workers Union said bag handlers would get a 3 percent wage increase during the 6-year agreement and got job-loss protection, current holidays and an improved profit-sharing plan. They voted 549, or 67 percent, to 273 to approve the deal.

Mechanics voted 593, or 65 percent, to 319 to reject Eagle's offer.

"Our members are frustrated that they have been asked to accept concessions to solve problems which we have nothing to do with in the first place," said the union's president, James C. Little.

AMR spokesman Bruce Hicks said the contract ratification by the bag handlers moved Eagle closer to a successful restructuring. He said the company was disappointed that the mechanics rejected their agreement, and will consider whether to seek to cancel their current contract, which was approved in 2003.

AMR is trying to cut expenses and return to profitability after losing more than $10 billion since 2001.


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