Mechanics, passenger rights group team up to oppose mergers

By Andrew Compart

An airline mechanics union and passenger rights group said they are joining forces to oppose mergers of major U.S. carriers.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) and the Coalition for an Airline Passengers Bill of Rights (CAPBOR) said they will work together to oppose “ill-advised” mergers by coordinating legislative efforts and “by demonstrating that mega-mergers are not in the best interests of the flying public, airline workers or the cities the airlines currently serve.”

The passenger rights coalition, which claims to have signed up 21,000 members since its formation a year ago, has shown some clout in getting Congress and several states to consider passenger rights legislation and in getting the state of New York to pass a law requiring airlines to provide certain services for passengers stuck on an aircraft on the tarmac.

Joseph Tiberi, an IAM  spokesman, said IAM would oppose any merger involving a combination of any of the following two carriers: United, Continental, Delta, Northwest and American. IAM represents workers at United, Continental and Northwest (as well as at US Airways and Southwest).

A merger between any of those carriers would lead to a “loss of jobs, loss of air service, and further deterioration of customer service,” he asserted.

“We’ve both objected to and supported mergers in the past, depending on the impact they would have on workers and communities," Tiberi said. "The current merger candidates, if they were to get together in any combination, would be something we’d oppose."

Kate Hanni, CAPBOR’s founder and executive director, said in the joint press release that "combining two major airlines with diverse corporate cultures is a recipe for disaster" and would worsen airline service.

Robert Roach Jr., IAM’s general vice president, said in the press release that the union and coalition are joining forces because "employees and passengers are the two groups essential to an airline’s success, yet they are the ones who are most hurt in mergers."

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