The Transport Workers Union of America (“TWU”) has members that are employed as Line Maintenance Aircraft Maintenance Technicians across the country. The recent series of CBS News stories has brought the nation’s attention to American Airlines’ unsafe, illegal, and intimidating management practices. The TWU stands with the and supports the courageous aircraft technicians who participated in these news stories. We also stand ready to defend them and any other TWU Aircraft Maintenance Technicians who suffer retaliation for working in accordance with proper maintenance manual standards. A debt of gratitude is owed to these individuals by the traveling public, their fellow technicians, and the airlines themselves. As CEO of American Airlines, you are responsible for the pervasive practice of intimidation that exists. It is atrocious and immoral that, solely in order to improve the company’s profitability, you would allow and oversee a system that potentially places air travelers at risk. You must correct this deadly serious situation. The first step in correcting these conditions is to first recognize that your company has a problem, and thus far you’ve failed to do so. American Airlines Senior Vice President David Seymour stated in the CBS report, with respect to aircraft mechanic whistleblower cases, “almost all of them have been dismissed.”
That is a bold-faced lie. American Airlines has settled a mind-boggling number of whistleblower cases originating from their Miami, Dallas, and Chicago operations and, in each case, management has demanded that non-disclosure agreements be executed in order to hide the financial settlements you have entered into. These non-disclosure agreements are your tool to perpetuate the ongoing cycle of abuse. With respect to the Chicago case involving six aircraft mechanic whistleblowers, the FAA report determined: • American Airlines “…pressured [mechanics] to not record discrepancies, take shortcuts with maintenance activities, or improperly sign-off on work which was not actually completed.”
• “An [FAA] investigation team … conducted an exemplary investigation, interviewing dozens of witnesses and gathering hundreds of documents, ultimately substantiating all of the complainants’ allegations.”1
Among the specific allegations substantiated by the cited investigation was that Regional Maintenance Director Evita Rodriguez – now known as Evita Garces – instructed American Airlines technicians:
“You need to strike a balance between safety and productivity. When I was stationed in JFK, I signed for sumping [of aircraft fuel tanks on] the Airbus, yet I never did. I am looking for that balance.”2
Instead of terminating Ms. Garces, on November 13, 2018, American Airlines promoted her to the new position of American Airlines Director of Maintenance (DOM). In this role, Ms. Garces will now be working hand-in-hand with the FAA. This action sends a horrific message to the Line Maintenance Aircraft Technicians. It is long past time for you, as CEO, to start making the leadership changes necessary to stop this harassment of TWU members. The chilling atmosphere you oversee is disgraceful and constitutes a clear and present danger to American Airlines’ customers.
John Samuelsen, President Transport Workers Union of America