American Airlines mechanics and management waited Tuesday to see if the airline's latest contract offer will pass or fail.
An arbitrator started counting the votes Tuesday morning, which will determine the fate of the deal reached after three years of hard fought negotiations. Both union and company officials quietly acknowledge they expect the vote to be close and the outcome could go either way.
Some vocal union members have fought to kill the tentative contract agreement, even though it includes pay increases and bonuses. One of the major sticking points has been retiree medical benefits, which would be reduced for younger workers.
If the contract proposal passes, it would be a win for the Fort Worth-based airline, which could focus more attention on other pending contract battles with the company's flight attendants and pilots. If the deal is voted down, it would mean more months of delays, negotiations, and the lingering possibility of a strike.
Under federal rules, the union cannot strike unless it's first granted release from federal mediation and then sits through a 30-day "cooling off" period.
Results of the vote are expected sometime late Tuesday afternoon.