United Airlines to Layoff 414 Mechanics at SFO

Union decries job outsourcing as threat to passenger safety

Thursday, Oct 9, 2008  |  Updated 6:54 AM PDT
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United Airlines to Layoff 414 Mechanics at SFO

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United Airlines announced this morning that it will layoff 414 mechanics at San Francisco International Airport.

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United Airlines said today it will lay off 414 mechanics at its San Francisco maintenance base.

The layoffs are part of 7,000 job eliminations announced previously by the Chicago-based carrier as it reduces its flying and eliminates the Boeing 737 from its fleet.

United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said the notices went to the workers on Sept. 29, and the layoffs will take effect on Dec. 7.

"We feel it's reprehensible they're laying off people while work is being outsourced overseas where there are less-qualified mechanics working on the planes," said Paul Molenberg, a spokesman for Teamsters Local 856 in San Bruno, Calif., which represents the laid-off workers.

Every major work group at United is shrinking. Enough flight attendants volunteered for furloughs that it avoided involuntary layoffs, allowing it to reduce the cabin staff by 1,550 positions. McCarthy said efforts to reduce 950 pilot positions will continue into next year, and cuts of as many as 1,600 managers are continuing, too, she said.

That leaves the Teamsters-represented mechanics, as well as baggage handlers and customer service agents represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. McCarthy said totals for those groups have not been announced.

United shares rose 38 cents, or 7.6 percent, to $5.40 in Wednesday trading.

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