Apprentice Mechanics

Bob Owens

Sep 9, 2002
I was reading through your tentative agreement but I did not see a pay scale for "Apprentice Mechanics". What is their pay rate?

I see this is old language that probably didnt matter when you had thousands laid off but I think you guys may burn through your recalls as fast as AA did.

It also says that "The mechanic to whom the apprentice is assigned will be held responsible for proper training and guidance". So now you are responsible for the work of another?

"Shift assignments may be made without regard to seniority when approved by the joint apprenticeship committee"?

It says an Apprentice works for three years but only gets two years seniority when he is done.

Where is "Article XI Paragraph B" as referenced in 23 (I)? Some of the LOAs also refer to Articles with roman numerals and dont seem to make sense.

It does cover where they are placed when finished but it also says that the company can have up to 10% Apprentice on a systemwide basis. In other words they could have up 50% in one location as long as they didnt have any in other locations.

This is a very bad idea if its how I read it. We've waited 30 years for the Mechanic shortage to materialize. Back in the late 80s things were starting to go that way until recession and consolidation in the form of EALs, and later Pan Ams, demise helped alleviate the shortage. Recently we've seen UAL/CAL, SWA/Air Tran, Delta NWA, USAIR/America West all merge. None of them reduced their mechanic headcount as a result of the merger, first time ever I've seen that happen. AA burned through their recall list of mechanics. Every mechanic who was laid off from either TWA or AA has been offered a spot and now they are hiring off the street. In my Local out of nearly 400 mechanics only around 20 returned. From what I hear other carriers are seeing the same response from those they furloghed. AA is desperate for mechanics. We have airplanes sitting out of service at the OH bases waiting for a Dock so they can do heavy checks. OT is at highs like we havent seen since the late 80s. Every time you turn around there's another blurb out there about how AAR can't find mechanics, how Kalita Air in Michigan, one of the states with the highest unemployment, claims they have to import foreigners to work on their airplanes, how the few schools that are left training A&Ps have 100% placement for their students, the shortage is upon us, it may not last, we need to capitalize on it and not blow it for a few crumbs. Allowing the company to eliminate the need for A&Ps by giving 10% of your work, your OT, to Apprentice mechanics is a bad idea.

Consider what we had to do years ago. Either go in the military or work for the small outfits like todays equivelent Jet Blue or AIR Tran to get the experience we needed to get to one of the majors. I remember when I interviewed with UAL in the late eighties for an Avionics position in LAX, (then I had to fly up to SFO for a dehumanizing physical, walking around in my underwear) I had to show five years experience. I turned the job down because they were only offering around $16/hr and I would have had to move across the country. More than twenty years later and I see your starting wage is still only $16/hr(base).

UAL, AA and Delta cant rely on getting experienced mechanics from the military and smaller carriers any more because those outfits now offer better pay than UAL, AA and Delta. They offer better pay not because their rates got better but because we allowed ours to get much worse. We shouldnt let the airlines off that easy.

The TA that we rejected at AA was clearly designed to drive A&Ps out of OH to the line. Obviously AA had planned on using its OH as a well from which to draw a supply of A&Ps to the line as needed, it looks like UAL is planning to use the Apprenticeship program to avoid a shortage and the leverage it would give mechanics at the bargaining table.

Its one thing if this was a union setting up an appentice program, like we see with craft unions such as plumbers, electricians and steamfitters but to allow the company to do this is nuts. Besides Apprenticships exist in craft unions, the IBT is an industrial union why is an industrial union playing the craft union game? In craft unions "Union History" is part of the training, those guys learn how important the union is to preserving their craft and standard of living. Are there any such plans to include this in the Apprenticeship Program? I doubt it. Instead it will likely be a UAL/school partnership where these guys are indoctrinated into corporate cultism. Where they try and select the highest scoring students and brainwash them into how they need to put the good of the corporation above their own well being. This language either needs to go or needs a serious rewriting.