American Suspends Manager Who Chewed Out Mechanic

Filed Under: American, Videos

Last week I shared a video of an American Airlines mechanic being chewed out by his manager. While we don’t know the full context, here’s part of the conversation in the video:

“Every time you come down here you write s*** up and you f****** leave. You stuck a plane in my a** last time for three f****** minutes and I trusted you, you said…

“I did my job.”

“You’re not doing your job. If you did your job you’d fix these f****** engines you’re writing up.”

“I am.”

“Bull, okay then show me where the f****** sign-off is.”

“I only work eight hours.”

Here’s the video (once again, note that it has a lot of bad language, so if you’re offended by that I’d recommend not watching):

Well, it looks like there’s now some more information regarding the situation. CBS Chicago did a story on this, and even interviews the mechanic who took the video:

According to the mechanic being interviewed:

  • The manager was angry because a flight took a three minute delay the previous week because he “had a lot of work to do on the plane”
  • He filed a formal complaint with American and the FAA over this incident, but nothing was ever done about it
  • Shortly before the plane was taken out of service, the mechanic noticed paint bubbling around an engine from corrosion, which was the trigger for the situation
  • He says that he doesn’t want the manager to be fired, noting “American wants mechanics to look away and not address [safety issues],” so it’s a systemic issue

American confirms that the manager has been suspended pending an investigation, and says that “the actions captured here do not reflect caring and respect, core values we expect all of our team members to show each other.”

For what it’s worth, this incident happened late last year. At the moment American is having serious issues with their mechanics, accusing the union of trying to “illegally gain leverage in contract negotiations by directing a coordinated and deliberate illegal slowdown focused on the maintenance operation.” This topic has resulted in management filing a lawsuit against the union.

While the issue has been going on for a while, it’s anyone’s guess to what extent this situation is related to the current dispute.

(Tip of the hat to Marc_ORD)

Comments

  1. So in other words: you are posting a video for which you don’t know what’s happening, can’t provide any context for, and have to take an absolute guess at what the point is.

    OK, quality work there, Lucky. Seems more appropriate for a FT rant post than what is usually the pretty good blog you run here.

  2. @ Bob — I’m sorry if that’s what you took away from this. We’re never going to see a video like this and get the full, official story from the airline, since this was an internal discussion. The reason I posted this is because it sheds some light on just how hostile the situation is internally regarding maintenance delays. I knew this was a serious issue at AA, though I didn’t think the internal discussions taking place were this toxic.

  3. Ben, I agree that posting this is what it is and whatever this discussion about/the context is might not even be relevant. The reason to post this in the first place is simply because something like this happened and that’s what’s the most F’d up. I feel bad for everyone involved and who will be affected by this all summer long.

  4. This is a labor dispute within the airline. Luckily they are not the only airline flying. You have option, albeit they may be an inconvenience to you. Simply don’t fly AA until their labor house is in order. Southwest just had something similar, and UA has had their issues through the years.

  5. @Ben – Are the mechanics working without a contract? If they have one, that would show bad faith on the part of the mechanics. If they’re working without one, that would likewise show bad faith on the part of American.

  6. AA mechanics have the reputation of being lazy do nothings. I lived in Tulsa, a big main depot
    So bad that if a guy worked at AA and was applying somewhere else, he’d never be considered for the job.
    Now, airline management has nothing to brag about, trying to get employees to work for subpar wages. I’d say stay away fm AA completely, go Delta.

  7. I really have no idea why you felt this was something aviation newsworthy to post. Especially as you have no idea of context.

    I have worked in automotive factories where this happens on a daily basis. I wouldn’t expect a auto enthusiast blog to post anything about it.

  8. It really makes me wonder how safe the aircraft are when workers have to work under those kind of conditions.

  9. While American Airlines is having some issues at the moment, I really don’t get this website’s obsession with AA bashing. Every day a new post about AA that bashes the company. OMAAT just isn’t The Points Guy and is not quite as informative when it comes to maximizing points and how to strategically use loyalty programs. I come to this site less and less.

  10. Lucky, I hear you, but I still don’t think posting this helps anyone except the party with the agenda to film/share this publicly. We are all left to infer what happened based on our own perceptions and biases because there is no context around this to determine if this is run of the mill workplace disagreement, a broader labor issue or anything else.

    Still, it is your blog and you can post whatever you want 😉

  11. @Christian

    Well… the problem is with terminology. In aviation, labor contracts don’t “expire”, they “become amendable.” So the mechanics are working under the terms of the old contract, while trying to negotiate terms of a new contract. Because the new contract is inevitably going to cost the company more money, they’re in no hurry to negotiate it.

    So you get the situation we have here, and that’s the mechanics giving the airline an incentive to negotiate a new contract *in good faith*. What the mechanics are doing is making it more costly for the airline to *not* negotiate with them.

    These types of situations flare up every few years, and given the way things work, will flare up again at another airline with a different work group for a different contract negotiation. It is what it is. Because these tricks aren’t new, management knows precisely what is going to happen. So by not settling a new contract in a reasonable amount of time, management creates conditions for these situations to happen.

    In the USA, we like to settle many things in the court of public opinion. So pretty much everything is about one side trying to make the other look unreasonable, and whoever looks most unreasonable loses. That’s how it works.

    One thing the AA mechanics have in their favor is that AA management chose to run one of the most challenging schedules ever out of DFW this summer. That schedule takes an entire team to pull off well, and trying to do that while negotiating with a labor group probably isn’t a smart idea. It won’t take much to send DFW performance down the tubes this summer.

  12. I have no doubt the mechanic is writing up shit right before his clock out time is up, I bet hes doing it on purpose just to fuck with the company just because of those contract negotiations, the mechanics at southwest do it too, I seen it all working as a contractor under American and basically every other operator. Any union based operation has this problem, I’ve worked for non union AND union operators it’s the same story everywhere. It happened recently with the Alaska-virgin merger and those snowflake Alaska airline mechanics and their stupid Boeing pride.

    I’ve met some completely trash people that work at American that treated my contractor coworkers and I with absolute shit just because my company took over their ramp work from the company.

    Absolutely no doubt in my mind that this mechanic is just a piece of shit writing up bullshit PERIOD.

  13. Unfortunately I agree with some of the sentiments above. There really isn’t enough context available for this video to be posted. When we speculate on context, it’s not fair to anyone in the video and it helps spread (potential) misinformation.

  14. We have absolutely no context here. I have no love for AA, but in this instance, I don’t see how posting this video helps anyone at all. For all we know, the guy yelling is not a manager at all, maybe the mechanic taking the video is a horrible employee, maybe this video is from three years ago, maybe it’s totally staged, or maybe it’s exactly what it looks like. How could we possibly know? This post feels very tabloid-y and a bit dishonest.

  15. Ben, if you’re so concerned about this situation at AA, will you commit to not flying them until the situation is resolved? I can’t imagine you want to support a company that fosters such a working environment.

  16. I watched the mechanics put Eastern Airlines and Pan Am out of business because they demanded more than they were worth. It’s a shame they can’t sit down and work this out like adults and remember where their pay checks come from. It’s the passengers.

  17. Eh stop complaining and just don’t fly AA, NK/F9 is perfectly fine. At least you get what you pay for with the latter unlike AA.

  18. The guy screaming is a supervisor for American who is still working today in Chicago. Actually the video is from November, long before management started throwing around false accusations of a slowdown. A similar video was featured in the CBS story on aircraft maintenance technicians being pressured by management. Gather actual facts and realize, we the Aircraft Technicians are the passengers last line of defense for flight safety. And these threats and intimidation are constantly placed on commercial aircraft technicians., by management.

  19. There was a time when this was a useful points + miles blog. It has become the drama Olympics with the author manufacturing conflict.

    Waste of a page click.

  20. @Gary – You’re pretty much dead on about Charlie Bryant and the mechanics at Eastern sinking the airline. Pan Am sank for a bunch of other reasons, among them a lack of domestic route structure, very high legacy costs, unresponsive management, and the Lockerbie incident.

  21. Is there anything stopping AA from contracting out their maintenance work to a different company, and simply stop working with the existing mechanics union? I have trouble understanding how this situation is allowed to continue happening – at some point, the one-time cost of laying off every one in favor of contractors or non-union workers might be justifiable considering the ongoing cost of all these ongoing maintenance-related delays.

  22. The video reminds me of dealing with all AA employees. All of the naysayers here are paid spokesmen for AA. There is no way the managers behavior can be remotely acceptable. The manager should be fired.

  23. Believe it or not this is standard operating principal for the mechanics to do something like this. So both “managers” in this case are actually both supervisors with one trying defuse the situation. The “manager” who is clearly agitated is actually a excellent guy with two decades with American, the one trying to defuse the situation is another outstanding individual with a number of years with the company. The sad truth is that the mechanics at American have an over inflated sense of entitlement. In some respects they have a legitimate gripe, but nothing excuses their behavior and honestly the Union is more to blame than the management; especially the supervisors. Supervisors at American get handed a really raw deal, they have all the responsibility to make sure planes leave on time, they take all the heat when the mechanics play their games and cause failures and yet they have none of the authority to get things done.
    It is common for mechanics to find a very minor problem which a normal mechanic, and indeed they themselves, can rectify or even acknowledge that the problem is not worth a delay fairly quickly. But if these minor problems are even addressed in a three word sentence in the maintenance manual, they use that leverage to make a mountain out of a mole hill. Most of the time with the results and heat landing on the supervisors shoulders and not their own. I assure you, this supervisor has a solid argument, and the TWU Union that is in place in Chicago has more freaking power than the management staff do.
    There are more than one guilty party in this video, but if you have to point the finger somewhere, point it at the Union. I assure you they are to blame for more than one or two delays. Be careful however not to blame all mechanics, they don’t all think or act the same. It’s only a small percentage that cause this type of problem.

  24. Those of you doubting this is happening have your head in the sand. Just google “american airlines mechanics” under news. Last night in DFW, my flight delayed delayed delayed then cancelled. Delayed again this morning. Pilot and agent announcements clearly indicated skepticism about mechanics’ findings and operational disruption from their actions.

  25. Unions are poisons to this country.
    They destroyed steel industries then railroads now airlines.
    Eliminating unions, banning unions and illegalizing union activities can Make America Great Again even without Trump.

  26. I would rarely comment on something that is not of relevance to a post BUT I couldn’t let this go. And just to be clear, I am in upper management with a major hotel company. I have been in management for 25+ years. @ Creditian, Unions are what MADE the middle class. Things you wouldn’t have without Unions.
    Weekends Off
    Paid Vacations
    Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
    Breaks at Work—Including Lunch
    Sick Leave
    Paid Holidays
    Military Leave
    40-hour Work Week
    And don’t bring the argument that free market competition would have brought these about anyway. Because at the time that most of these were won, the Government didn’t care and neither did major companies.

  27. I’ve been following this story as many have, to gain the most insight into the management/mechanics saga as possible. This video not only provides that insight, but the obvious hostile working environment the worker is subjected to will no doubt help fuel public opinion about AA culture, as well as the mechanics that are trying to bring their pay in line with other airlines in the face of the billions in profits AA made last year.

  28. I suggest you re-imagine what the video is about. Your confirmation bias is showing. You could pay a bit more attention to the rest of the video and then look at the comments under it as well, at the very least.

  29. This comment bears repeating:

    “Gary Peterson says:
    June 9, 2019 at 7:03 pm

    The guy screaming is a supervisor for American who is still working today in Chicago. Actually the video is from November, long before management started throwing around false accusations of a slowdown. A similar video was featured in the CBS story on aircraft maintenance technicians being pressured by management. Gather actual facts and realize, we the Aircraft Technicians are the passengers last line of defense for flight safety. And these threats and intimidation are constantly placed on commercial aircraft technicians., by management.”

    The supervisor is screaming at a guy who does his job. This is a longstanding issue that the news has not covered–the way AA mechanics get treated when they follow FAA procedures and policies.

  30. Finally, Americans are recognizing the near-irreconcilable conflict between labor and capital.

    Do we honestly think that these aircraft mechanics have any other choice? Are they supposed to ask nicely for a raise or more favorable contract? Are they supposed to perpetually accept declines in their standard of living and watch their communities erode?

    I know most of us on the blog are somewhat well-off. I sense most of us are some form of managers or small business owners, but we’re not true capitalists. We’re even not temporarily inconvenienced capitalists-in-training. Most of our wealth and income is derived from our labor or ability to supervise others doing labor we’ve specialized in. We primarily work for living. We don’t own for a living. We’re better off economically than aircraft mechanics because we either were fortunate enough to be specialized or we’re talented at bossing around people like aircraft mechanics for our owner’s gain. In the end, we’re no different than aircraft mechanics. We don’t plan the economy. Those who own for living, the capitalists, do.

    If you think this is ugly and hostile, go research the history of the labor movement in this country. It could be so much worse and it will continue to get worse.

    As long as we are going to continue on with this rent-seeking economy where we continue to reward leaders like Doug Parker, this is what we should expect. The guy is not compensated for running an airline. He’s compensated for selling miles to banks and setting back the working class further.

  31. I am laughing so hard. Based on the mechanic responses, he will rank bottom of the bottom10 at my company.

    That is why US airliners can’t compete with Asian or Middle East airliners. If US has an open sky policy, all US airlines will end up like the Detroit big 3.

  32. Sorry, charm in again on Jeff’s comment “Do we honestly think that these aircraft mechanics have any other choice? Are they supposed to ask nicely for a raise or more favorable contract? Are they supposed to perpetually accept declines in their standard of living and watch their communities erode?”

    Never in my 25+ year career did I asked for a pay raise. I was given. Many times, I got a big bump, when they and not me acknowledge my work performance.

    Adam Smith law, supply and demand. If you think somewhere else pay better, just leave. When company can’ find workers or they want to keep you, they respond with higher pay.

  33. Gary P. has it spot on as this goes back to last year at ORD. Not sure where N is getting information but it is incorrect. This mechanic found corrosion and wrote it up. I don’t fly AA, but on any airline I would want a mechanic to do the right thing and write it up. In what world is this abuse acceptable? So N would you accept the verbal abuse from your superior? I doubt you would. Are you really saying that the “union” caused the supervisor to yell and use profanity? That is total BS and you know it N.

  34. Flying LAX to PHL tonight and as we are about to board, just learned that the flight is delayed at least 30min. I asked a gate personnel if this had to to do with the Mechanics dispute and she said: “ yes, at least partially” This sucks for passengers… blaming the mechanics for shitty tactics.

  35. @Traveler_Texas In a unionized environment it does not work as you think (wish?) it would where the benevolent manager hands out raises effortlessly. I see that your written english is non standard so assume you are not familiar with the laws and customs of the United States. Pay and benefits are collectively bargained and it has been many years since a new contract for the AA mechanics. I am sorry you did not have the nerve to ask for a salary increase and only accepted what was doled out to you by your caring manager. You do know you left some dollars on the table right? As for your bottom 10 comment again you have little to no understanding of how things work here in the US. We are not a gulag like in ME or Asia where the worker will continue working for hours beyond their shift. That is why it is written up and the next shift works the issue. Do some research first then post with something intelligent to say which adds value to the discussion. I don’t agree with all posts above, but where the comment is clearly defined and makes some sense I can at least see where that person is coming from.

  36. Just so you understand, coming from someone that knows exactly what’s going on here. It was ITEMS not ENGINES… You misunderstood. An item is a description of something that this Licensed Line Maintenance (working at the terminal) Aircraft Maintenance Technician (AMT) found while he was assigned to an aircraft. The supervisor here, is angry because this Tech is writing up additional items for discrepancies that he observed while working on an aircraft. The management team only wants to see the planes leave on time. They get heat from their Manager (level 5 above them) if they take a delay. The get scared and angry. If you find something wrong, Wright up in the logbook an item, you can either repair it or you can possibly contact Technical Support to get an authorization to defer the item (if allowed) to a later date or not authorized to defer… Then it would need to be repaired or the plane is taken out of service. This Saftey scenario is typical everyday. If the AMT finds nothing wrong, the plane doesn’t have a problem departing on time. This man was going home and he had documented what items he found. How is he wrong? How is the supervisor right for using intimidation towards one of his AMTs?

  37. I guess I am somewhat shocked that the majority of replies to this topic think it’s ok for a manager to speak to an employee this way. Are the majority of readers of this blog the “Trump locker room talk” squad? I don’t care how angry said manager is, this is NOT how you speak to employees, period. I’m glad this mechanic exposed this manager.

  38. Trump doesn’t talk like that to his employees. Why would you say that? When he is under attack, he fights back. It’s a good thing. As it seems in the video here, This supervisor (
    level 4) is using intimidation practices to scare those that might do the job too efficiently. Delays make the supervisor look bad. He must answer to his boss. The level 5 manager.

  39. “So in other words: you are posting a video for which you don’t know what’s happening, can’t provide any context for, and have to take an absolute guess at what the point is.

    OK, quality work there, Lucky. Seems more appropriate for a FT rant post than what is usually the pretty good blog you run here.”

    @Bob – Agree 100% with your comments — all of them.

    @ Lucky — “I’m sorry if that’s what you took away from this. We’re never going to see a video like this and get the full, official story from the airline, since this was an internal discussion. ”

    If this is the case then why continue to post videos that won’t show the “full, official story from the airline” without more information”?

  40. Context – some of you are worried about context! Nobody should be treated that way. Both of these positions are in a public facing role in a company that is public facing. Deal with your differences in a professional manner. Everybody gets heated from time to time, but come on. Would some of you who are obsessed with the context of the video want to be treated this way. As a OneWorld Sapphire I have noticed the decline in AA and have begun to migrate my business elsewhere. If employees can’t treat others with respect, they are sure not going to treat passengers with respect. I have a fairly complex trip with AA in July and thanks to Lucky’s reporting I am mentally preparing myself for problems and have made additional plans to save as much of the trip if something goes wrong. Many of you probably live near an AA hub. I don’t – I have to transit to two AA hubs to get to my destination. Thanks to this blog I am better informed. Keep it up Ben!

  41. CBS Chicago interviewed the mechanic today. I posted a link, but maybe was taken down. Like I mentioned in a previous post there was an item (corrosion) that he wrote up which required the equipment to be taken out of service. Why can’t AA have a spare or two in a major hub to swap out – they must know these things happen. All you trumpers would be screaming bloody murder if there was an accident – blaming the mechanics for not doing their job.

  42. @M – “When he is under attack, he fights back. It’s a good thing.”

    Problem #1, right there.

  43. “I only work eight hours.” Everything wrong with unions summed up in this statement. I’m going to write up a safety issue on a plane in the last minute of my shift, but I won’t take any corrective action because I have worked my eight hours. Seems like this mechanic has a habit of doing that but then not fixing this issue resulting in delays. Its never appropriate for a manager to be unprofessional like this guy was, but this whole thing sounds the mechanic is trying to spin it to help the union with their nonsense. I’m a bit confused how the corrosion just happened to suddenly appear right before flight time. On the flip side for an interesting read here is a vanity fair article about how major airlines use repair centers in foreign countries and the issues surrounding that. Its eyeopening. https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2015/11/airplane-maintenance-disturbing-truth?verso=true

  44. More than likely the pilot doing the walk around called maintenance out to look at the corrosion… some mechanics work only eight hours, some mechanics do double shifts
    (16 hours) some mechanics work 10 hour shifts and some work their eight with four hours overtime.. that’s what he meant by that. I only worked eight hours. In the End, it doesn’t matter. would you recommend the man not write up anything because he’s going home and he’s afraid to get yelled at?

  45. @M It doesn’t seem to me at all that the manager is suggesting that he not write it up. What the manager has an issue with is that this guy has apparently does the same thing repeatedly where he writes things up and then leaves without doing the repairs. Sounds like a mechanic with an agenda or just a lazy mechanic who when he spots a problem holds off on handing in the write up until the very end of his shift so he doesn’t have to do the repair work which causes unnecessary delays. I’d be pissed too if some mechanic kept doing that to me.

  46. I bet Jason Lopata won’t find job elsewhere since he has such terrible ethics toward his duty. Submitting the problem sheets right before signing off, not fixing it before leaving, is to disrespect his job. No employer would accept this kind of employee.

    A union guy will always be the union guy. Union is the cancer of this country, not China or Mexico. America impose chemo to get rid of union activity.

  47. @Creditian How do you know the issue was not found 5 hours into an 8 hour shift and that the fix would take 4 hours to repair? The corrosion was found while repairing other items and was not indicated as the initial reason for attention from mechanics. I doubt you were there as you were so busy on Savushkina Street in St. Petersburg many time zones east. You are a troll paid to stir the pot with false information. Your lack of knowledge disturbs me. If you can’t speak intelligently and add to the discussion then I suggest you not post at all.

  48. Think all we can deduce from this is American has a poisonous atmosphere in it’s technical operations area – but then most airlines do .

    I flew Qantas and the flight was delayed as “There are insufficient mechanics to fix the aircraft” – was in the terminal three weeks later & same excuse was announced over the PA.

    Just saying American would definitely not be the only airline in this position – and as for the supervisor ? pressure those guys work under – sometimes it’s hard to not let off steam.

  49. Conclusion: The manager is rude and lacks proper management skills for insulting an employee and barking orders with obscene words are counter -productive and the mechanic is an unprofessional aviation employee when he replies that he only works 8 hours.He should work at a restaurant cooking pancakes for 8 hours sharp because in the Aviation Industry his sensitive job implies he should be ready to work as much as he can to solve a safety issue.

    So AA should fire them both.End of the story.

  50. I just can’t stand reading through some of these comments about not understanding the context so you must “infer”, then proceed to bash mechanics for doing their jobs, yet you’re not mechanics. I am an aircraft mechanic, but I don’t work for American, so my ideologies may somewhat seem semi-biased. However, I work on planes everyday, where I am not protected by a union, and so I understand what the mechanic in the video is talking about. Management, no matter where you work, will put their performance goals way before yours. Safety plays a major role in this industry and of course we understand safety can be stretched with MELs and CDLs, until it’s no longer deemed airworthy. However, if I ever write something up because I have determined it is unsafe or requires further evaluation, I don’t care who you are, this A&P certificate grants me the right to take this plane out of service, so don’t ever come at me the wrong way for it. If I see hydraulic fluid leaking from a strut, and management tells me to wipe it off and send the plane into the skies, it is my signature that states the plane is safe for service. Not yours, not anybody else’s. Then if that gear fails, it is now my license and livelihood that is jeapordize… NOT YOURS NOT ANYBODY ELSES. So please skip all the nonsense about the mechanic, and his true intentions of gaining leverage in a labor dispute. It may be true, but corrosion is corrosion, and if you spot it, write it up, because when an incident occurs because of that buildup up of corrosion, you’re gonna be the first person they wish to speak to you.

  51. Your right! These spectators probably have the utmost respect for their BMW mechanics but yet a professional aircraft tech gets none.

  52. Why are people chewing out Ben here? He did provide context (perhaps not at first, but eventually). And even without any context, it is worth posting as it highlights a hostile work environment at AA, which shouldn’t exist. Whoever said this happens in automotive factories everyday, well, it shouldn’t happen there either. What’s wrong with you people? Why do you support the existence of hostile workplaces?

  53. @Caroline: he says he works eight hours because that’s in his contract. He has no obligation to work any longer. AA can find another mechanic to fix the issue.

  54. @Ahmed, sure it is in his contract but he can put in extra hours to fix the problem or declare the aircraft unfit to fly if it is the case.I thought the employee’s remark was not appropriate for his industry.(I would say the same for the Medical/Hospital industry and wherever Safety is a crucial part of the job)

    At AA they also need to hire proper managers who are soft spoken, polite and with inter personal skills.There is no way you ll get the best from people yelling at them

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