United Airlines’ possible outsourcing could affect McAllen airport workers

 SKY CHADDE | STAFF WRITER | Posted: Monday, January 26, 2015 8:45 am Follow @skychadde McALLEN — 

Dozens of local employees of United Airlines might have to start looking for other jobs. The airline is considering outsourcing its baggage handlers and gate and customer service agents at 28 airports, including McAllen­Miller International Airport, in an effort to cut costs, according to a city memorandum. “We need to ensure our costs are competitive,” said Luke Punzemberger, a United Airlines spokesman. 

The other airlines at McAllen’s airport already contract with a third party to provide those services, said Elizabeth Suarez, the city’s aviation director. “It’s definitely a trend throughout the industry,” she said. The airline is negotiating with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, but no decisions have been made yet, Punzemberger said. It’s possible the airline keeps some jobs in house, he said. 

But if United and the union can’t agree on terms, up to 40 McAllen workers will be affected, according to the city memo. Those employees can transfer to another airport for the same job, accept a severance package, or reapply for their jobs with the contractor the airline selects, according to the memo. If an agreement can’t be reached, the transition to contracted workers will most likely start in early summer, the memo states. Flights will not be affected by the staffing changes. 

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