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American Airlines fires 40 workers just before probation ends

December 14, 1997

DALLAS (AP) _ Phil Simpson was minutes away from punching out from his job at American Airlines _ and completing his milestone 180th day when he would qualify for health insurance _ when he and handful of other employees were told to gather for ``special training.″

After they waited in a training room for about 30 minutes late Friday, he says, an airline official addressed the group and fired them.

The employees, about 40 workers who loaded and unloaded baggage and freight from planes at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, were dismissed just minutes before completing their probationary period. The company offered one week’s salary as severance pay, workers said.

The company decided several months ago not to offer the probationary employees permanent jobs, said Mary Frances Fagan, a Chicago-based American Airlines spokeswoman.

``We had worked with the union and it was a case of, `We don’t need the full head count we have at this time,‴ she said. ``It’s unfortunate this happened around the holidays.″

After Friday the workers would have qualified for health insurance, flight privileges and other benefits.

``They do people wrong,″ said baggage and freight handler Ruben Ramirez, 33, of Carrollton. ``They used us to the very last day and then dumped us.″

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