AMR Corp.'s American Airlines, whose pilots last month rejected a contract extension, is expected to begin talks today with a union representing 31,000 ramp workers, mechanics, flight dispatchers and meteorologists. The Transport Workers Union will seek an "industry-leading contract," union President Timothy Gillespie said in a letter to members on the TWU Web site. The second-largest airline didn't return calls seeking comment. American has been trying to improve relations with its labor groups. The unions often clashed bitterly with the Fort Worth-based company under Chief Executive Robert Crandall, who retired in 1998. Current Chief Executive Donald Carty's efforts to change the situation haven't yet met with much success. The Allied Pilots Assn.'s vote against a proposed one-year contract extension last month followed the September 1999 rejection of a tentative agreement by American's flight attendants. American now is in talks aided by a federal mediator with the flight attendants union. The contract extension rejected by the pilots would have freed AMR from most limits on use of regional jets at its American Eagle commuter airline. American also remains in a legal battle with the pilots union, which has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court a judge's order that it pay $45.5 million to the carrier. On Friday, AMR shares fell 63 cents to close at $29.88 on the New York Stock Exchange.