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Mechanics Hit the Hill: TAMC Continues Fight against Outsourced Aircraft Maintenance

Brisk autumn air chilled the nation’s capital early on November 12 as nine Teamster mechanics and leaders walked over to Capitol Hill, kicking off a two-day lobbying push in the ongoing fight against outsourced aircraft maintenance. Rank-and-file TAMC members held 12 meetings with congressional staff to educate lawmakers on the perils of outsourcing. Lawmakers heard mechanics’ accounts from the frontlines of aircraft maintenance and the impact that third-party maintenance providers (MROs) are having on safety in the industry.

Rank-and-file TAMC mechanics Fred Lewelling (LU 19), Larry Bailey (LU 210), Ervin Cornavaca (LU 210), Tom Reid (LU 210), Gary Kagel (LU 769), and Pramod Thomas (LU 781) were joined by Local 986 Business Agent Dave Saucedo, Airline Division Representative Bob Fisher and TAMC Chair Chris Moore as they walked the halls of Congress.

A dozen meetings were held over the course of two days with various staff members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, members of the Subcommittee on Aviation, and both the Majority and Minority Staff Directors of the Aviation Subcommittee. Additionally, TAMC meetings were held with staff members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee as well as Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA) of the Committee.

Discussions with lawmakers centered around the May 1, 2013 Department of Transportation Inspector General Report (AV-2013-073), which once again supports the TAMC’s claim that the FAA is failing to adequately oversee the work being done by MROs. With photos of shoddy MRO repair work in hand, the Teamster mechanics provided expert analysis of the missed inspections, unauthorized repairs and coercion of unlicensed mechanics that are ongoing at the outsourced maintenance facilities.  

“This was my first time participating in lobbying in Washington, DC on behalf of the TAMC,” said mechanic Fred Lewelling. “It was great to be part of the TAMC’s efforts against outsourcing and to see firsthand the political muscle we have as a Coalition and as Teamsters.”

“All the congressional staff and offices we met with were very receptive to our message about the dangers of aircraft maintenance outsourcing and the need for better oversight,” said TAMC Chair Chris Moore.

In the interest of public safety, the TAMC has taken the position that the current Moratorium prohibiting Initial Certification of Foreign Repair Stations (FAA Document N 8900.47) should be modified to include adequate FAA oversight and that Initial Certification of any new domestic repair stations should be halted until such time as the FAA can show they can oversee the work being performed.

More added, “We are pleased that so many lawmakers in Washington are aware of the outsourcing problem that our industry faces and are eager to learn more about how to address it. We look forward to following up with the offices we visited and organizing future lobbying events to keep up the pressure in Washington.”