Eastern Lays Off 259 Mechanics to Save $17 Million
MIAMI (AP) _ Financially troubled Eastern Airlines on Friday announced the layoff of 259 mechanics and related positions in Boston and Miami, saying the cuts will save $17 million.
Eastern’s Machinists Union district president Charles Bryan immediately denounced the move, calling it one more step in parent company Texas Air Corp.’s plan to dismantle Eastern.
He said the layoffs violated contract seniority rules and were aimed at provoking a work stoppage to give Houston-based Texas Air an excuse to break union contracts.
″They are thumbing their nose at the contract and at the Railway Labor Act, and doing everything they can to create an adversary relationship,″ said Bryan.
Bryan has been the airline’s most outspoken union critic. The Machinists Union has refused to renegotiate its contracts before the expiration despite Eastern’s warnings that costs must be cut if the airline is to survive.
Eastern strongly defended the layoffs, saying in a statement they were part of the company’s ″streamlining and realignment of fleet mix, maintenance locations and other operations.″
The company showed a meager profit of $6 million for the last quarter of 1986, but had an overall loss for the year of $130.8 million.
″We just can’t continue losing $130 million a year,″ said company spokesman Jim Ashlock.
In Miami, 174 mechanics and four support positions will be eliminated by shutting down one of the four lines used for periodic major overhauls. The shutdown was made possible by the removal of six A300s and five Boeing 727-100s from the fleet, plus the recent sale of two L-1011s, the company said.
Some of the planes have been transferred to Continental Airlines, another Texas Air unit, while others were sold overseas.
In Boston, the home station for 28 Eastern aircraft, routine annual checks will be eliminated at the facility and will be performed in Atlanta.
The resulting cuts will eliminate 59 mechanics jobs and 13 related positions, the company said, reducing the overall maintenance force in Boston to 169 positions.
Bryan said his union will redouble its efforts to unwind the Texas Air takeover of Eastern, and he will continue testifying in Congress about alleged irregularities in the deal.
Texas Air bought Eastern last year for $676 million at the climax of its labor negotiations.