Mechanics of ExpressJet, a regional airline for United Airlines, and their supporters conducted informational picketing at McGhee Tyson Airport on Tuesday morning.
The picketing was set to start about 5 a.m. Tuesday, according to a statement from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. It ended about noon, said Becky Huckaby, vice president of public relations for the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority. That was the limit for the 24-hour permit granted at noon Monday by the MKAA Safety Department.
The ExpressJet mechanics picketed outside on the curb of the departure entrance on the second level of the airport terminal. The Safety Department reported no problems caused by the presence of the picketers, Huckaby said.
“They had signs and flyers that they were distributing to anyone who was interested in receiving one of those,” she said.
The Teamsters had not as of Tuesday afternoon applied for another permit to picket at TYS, but a release datelined Alcoa on Nov. 25 said the mechanics would “begin” informational picketing starting last Monday, which is when the initial permit was applied for and granted.
After five months of contract negotiations with ExpressJet, the workers are no closer to an agreement, a union statement stated.
“They want the public to know that after 10 years of concessions they are no longer waiting for the airline to do the right thing, and it could cause the company’s service to suffer because more and more of them are quitting every day,” a Teamsters release stated.
According to the union, the company is trying to take workers’ retirement “to fund a paltry wage increase that leaves them thousands of dollars behind their peers in the regional industry.”
In June, early in the negotiations, the Teamsters Airline Division asked the National Mediation Board for mediation assistance, the union said from its Washington offices. The Teamsters said ExpressJet mechanics are paid about half of what United Airlines mechanics make despite passing the same licensing requirements of the Federal Aviation Administration.
Neither ExpressJet nor Teamsters Local 519 in Knoxville responded to requests for comment Tuesday.