AMR union to vote next week on proposal: sources

Mon Apr 23, 2012 7:46pm EDT

A US Airways plane and an American Airlines plane share a terminal at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington April 23, 2012. Three unions representing workers at AMR Corp's American Airlines would support a merger with US Airways Group Inc, calling it the ''best strategy and fastest option'' to complete a restructuring at bankrupt AMR. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

A US Airways plane and an American Airlines plane share a terminal at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington April 23, 2012. Three unions representing workers at AMR Corp's American Airlines would support a merger with US Airways Group Inc, calling it the ''best strategy and fastest option'' to complete a restructuring at bankrupt AMR.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

(Reuters) - The union representing seven work groups at bankrupt American Airlines will vote starting next week on the carrier's best and final contract offer, with results expected before unions testify in a hearing on the airline's request to void their contract, three sources said on Monday.

American, a unit of AMR Corp, is finalizing the language of the offer, which features fewer job cuts than the 8,500 originally proposed, airline spokesman Bruce Hicks said.

AMR filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November, citing labor costs that were higher than its peers. The carrier has about 74,000 full- and part-time workers. The company has said it must cut 13,000 jobs as part of a plan to trim its labor costs by $1.25 billion a year.

The sources, who are close to the talks, said the timing of the vote will yield results around May 14 before the unions make their case in court to block the airlines attempt to scrap their current deals. The sources requested anonymity because the negotiations are confidential.

AMR began making arguments in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan supporting its request.

The proposal would be sent directly to the workers, an unusual step because unions frequently bless an offer as a "tentative agreement" before submitting it for a vote. AMR has yet to reach deals with its pilots unions or flight attendants.

Ratification of the proposals by the TWU work groups would erase the airline's need to end their contracts.

A spokesman for the Transport Workers Union, which represents 26,000 members, declined to comment on the state of negotiations.

(Reporting By Kyle Peterson)

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