Nearly 10 months after one of Miami’s largest private employers filed for bankruptcy protection, the number of local American Airlines employees who will lose their jobs is still not quite known.
But thanks to a federal law that requires companies to warn workers if there’s a chance they might be affected, the picture is becoming clearer as the airline works its way through restructuring.
The worst case scenario for the airline’s 9,000 employees in the region is glum: more than 1,400 people potentially affected, the vast majority of them at Miami International Airport, according to a notice filed with the state’s labor agency.
But the airline and a local union representative said the number of workers likely to lose their jobs in Miami is expected to be much lower. And some of those whose jobs are outsourced could find employment with companies that are contracted to do the same work.
Nationwide, the airline is sending warnings of possible job loss to more than 11,000 employees with the expectation of laying off closer to 4,400.
American Airlines spokesman Bruce Hicks said Tuesday that fewer than 40 percent of those getting notices will lose their jobs. Federal law requires the company to notify anyone whose position could change including those who could get “bumped” by more-senior employees whose jobs are eliminated or outsourced.
In a statement, Hicks said that through “early out” incentive programs, negotiations and other solutions, the airline expects to need to lay off only a third of the employees it originally estimated systemwide. American said in February that it planned to cut 14,000 jobs, including 13,000 held by union workers.
Over the summer American accepted slightly smaller cost-cutting measures as it negotiated new labor contracts, and it agreed to give bonuses to flight attendants and ground workers who quit. So far 1,800 flight attendants and 800 ground workers have applied to leave, the Associated Press reported.
“Because some of the incentive programs are still open, and because the business changes will take place over several months, we don’t yet have final furlough numbers,” Hicks wrote.
According to a notice filed with the state’s labor agency, the number of employees that could be affected at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on or around Nov. 16 is 47; about 158 employees on the same date could be affected at Miami International Airport and another 1,209 workers could be affected at MIA around Dec. 16.
The bulk of the jobs detailed in the notice — 668 — belong to fleet service clerks and crew chiefs at MIA, followed by 323 mechanics, 174 plant maintenance workers and 102 airport agents.
But Sidney Jimenez, president of the Transport Workers Union’s local Chapter #568, which covers Miami and Fort Lauderdale, said the union expects far fewer people to lose their jobs involuntarily. TWU represents fleet service, plant maintenance and mechanics, among other groups.
“If all the stars align and everything were to be the worst that could happen, that’s what the number could be,” he said. “Because of other internal ways to mitigate the number, we believe it’s going to be substantially lower as far as the number that are involuntarily separated.”