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Feb 17, 2010 12:19 PM by Associated Press

American Airlines union seeks first step to strike

The union representing ground workers at American Airlines wants to take a big step toward a strike against the nation's second-largest airline. The Transport Workers Union said Wednesday it will ask federal mediators to let the employees walk away from contract talks if there is no deal by March 8.

If federal mediators agree, the workers could go on strike 30 days later in early April, although the president or Congress could block a walkout. The issue could become a test of the Obama administration's handling of labor issues.

The union represents 28,000 American Airlines workers, including mechanics and bag handlers, and has been negotiating over a new contract since 2008.

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