U.S. Markets open in 4 hrs 9 mins

American Airlines pilots eye strike authorization

DALLAS (AP) -- The pilots' union at American Airlines is pushing ahead with a strike-authorization vote, while the company says a walkout would be illegal and the vote is just a symbolic tactic.

The Allied Pilots Association is protesting American's impending cancellation of the pilots' labor agreement.

On Monday, the union board approved sending out strike-authorization ballots, which will be counted Oct. 3, said spokesman Tom Hoban.

American, which is in bankruptcy protection, responded by warning that even the union's lawyers say pilots can't legally strike over the company's cancellation of the contract.

Federal law makes it illegal for airline workers to strike without permission from federal labor-relations officials, which hasn't happened. The union's acting president has said that pilots won't strike illegally.

Also on Monday, a union disclosed American's plans to eliminate 1,090 jobs when it shuts down a Fort Worth maintenance facility in December, and that flight attendants signed up to get $40,000 severance payments.

The airline announced plans to close the maintenance facility several months ago. It gave details on the timing and job losses to the Transport Workers Union on Friday, and the union posted the document on its website.

American plans to shut down four maintenance lines at Alliance Airport in November and begin layoffs on Dec. 15, according to the document. AMR Corp.-owned American, which filed for bankruptcy protection in November, plans to outsource the work done at Alliance or shift it to facilities at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Tulsa, Okla.

The airline plans to eliminate 993 out of 5,150 maintenance jobs in Tulsa. The airline closed a Kansas City, Mo., maintenance facility in 2010.

Separately, the union for American Airlines flight attendants said 901 of its members have signed up so far to get payments of $40,000 apiece for quitting their jobs at the financially troubled company. Sign-ups end Sept. 20.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants said briefings on the buyouts have been standing-room only.

The payments were part of a concessionary contract that flight attendants approved with the airline, which is trying to cut its workforce and labor costs while it's under bankruptcy protection. The buyouts are designed to reduce the need for layoffs at American, which wants to cut about 2,000 flight-attendant jobs.