Workers protest planned American Airlines layoffs

Employees picket at Miami International Airport

MIAMI - American airlines Transportation Workers Union employees have taken their fight against the company curbside. 

Dozens of mechanics, flight attendants and cargo workers protested proposed layoffs outside Concourse D at Miami International Airport on Wednesday. 

"We are just numbers. We are something that whenever they need, they come to us, and then they discard us like, you know, we are nothing," said fleet service worker Allen Clark.

After American filed for bankruptcy protection last November, it announced plans and eliminate 13,000 jobs nationwide, but it is still not clear how many jobs would be lost in South Florida.

"It's warfare against their own employees," said flight attendant Gailen David. 

"I've got four kids and bills like everybody else, and the job market now is not favorable," said an airline mechanic who wished to be identified only as Antonio. 

American Airlines spokesman Bruce Hicks released the following statement Wednesday: 

"These are challenging times for everyone at American Airlines and we know change is difficult. It's important to remember every employee group -- labor, independent, support staff and management -- is affected. These were not easy decisions to make, but they were made out of necessity. Our goal is to preserve as many jobs as possible and emerge from restructuring a successful, profitable company. Our focus right now is quickly reaching consensual agreements with each of our unions to help American Airlines reduce its costs and regain competitive footing in the industry." 

Union representatives said that even though American views Miami International as a hub with great growth potential, local jobs here are still at risk. 

"Out of the 50 most profitable routes, they're right here in Miami, absolutely," said Fred Frost, of TWU Local 568. "But what they're not telling you is the people out in Tulsa, New Mexico, that have more seniority are going to come here and bump people out of jobs here, and the people that are coming here are going to work here and then spend their money elsewhere."  

Employees said the company is using bankruptcy protection against them. 

"They need to show us the financials so that we can negotiate fairly before the judge makes the decision," said flight attendant Suzy Bower. 

They are hoping these protests will get public opinion on their side. 

"You have got to fight for your rights, or else they will step all over you," said American Airlines passenger George Quint. 

But, many employees feel like they are simply flying by the seat of their pants. 

"I want them to go ahead and let us know something, so I can move on with my life," said cargo worker Vanessa McAdams.

American Airlines is one of the largest private employers in Miami-Dade County.

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