Two unions that represent ground workers at American Airlines and US Airways Group said on Tuesday they would combine to become the bargaining agent for nearly 30,000 employees after the airlines merge.
The move comes as the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a third union, seeks to represent mechanics at US Airways.
The Transport Workers Union of America and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers said they reached agreements this week to represent mechanics, fleet and Stores workers at the new American Airlines.
The unions said the partnership, which will be called the TWU/IAM Employee Association, will file with U.S. mediators to hold elections for ground workers once the merger is completed. Should the partnership be certified as the agent for workers at the combined airline, negotiating groups from each union will work on labor contracts.
The TWU currently represents ground workers at American, while the machinists represent the employees at US Airways.
Last week, the Teamsters filed an application with the National Mediation Board seeking elections to represent US Airways mechanics. At the same time, the Teamsters union also said it intended to file to represent ground workers at American, a unit of AMR Corp .
The TWU and machinists unions assailed the Teamsters filing last week. Garry Drummond, the air transport division director at the TWU, said in a statement that the Teamsters were trying to "steal members from other unions."
The merger of American and US Airways is expected to close in the third quarter, subject to approvals.
(Reporting by Karen Jacobs in Atlanta. Editing by Andre Grenon)