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There Will Be Blood

TWU President makes powerful strike threat to American Airlines

Kris LaGrange's picture
Jun 03, 2019

Both In These Times and Splinter recently reported on the strong words of Transport Workers Union President John Samuelsen towards American Airlines, the country's largest airline. His union has been locked in a bitter contract dispute and recently saw the company walk away from negotiations. Below we have included some of the coverage from In These Times and Hamilton Nolan at Splinter, as well as video of Samuelson. These are strong words that any labor leader would appreciate.

Splinter: This Union Guy Is Talking Some Real Hardcore Shit

In a nation wracked by inequality, when organized labor is beset by enemies on all fronts, it is so refreshing to hear some good, old-fashioned, pure, unadulterated, threatening righteous shit talk from a union leader.

At American Airlines, unionized mechanics are locked in nasty negotiations with the company. In These Times reports what John Samuelson, the head of the Transport Workers Union, said to the company’s FACE:

On May 21, during one of the airline’s regular town hall meetings with employees at LaGuardia Airport, TWU president John Samuelsen confronted American Airlines president Robert Isom and told him that the union was prepared to strike. “I stand here to tell you—in front of this whole room, in front of everybody, anybody who’s listening—that you’re not going to get what you want,” said Samuelsen. “If this erupts into the bloodiest, ugliest battle that the United States labor movement ever saw, that’s what’s going to happen. You’re already profitable enough.”[...]

“If we ever get to a point where there’s self-help [which forces employees to accept a contract without union approval], we are going to engage in an absolutely vicious strike action against American Airlines to the likes of which you’ve never seen,” said Samuelsen. “Not organized by airline people, but organized by a guy that came out of the New York City subway system that’s well inclined to strike power, and who understands that the only way to challenge power is to aggressively take it to them. … We’re going to shut this place down.”

Now that is the kind of “open door” relationship we love to see with an employer!

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