American Airlines Failed to Stop Union Election

by San Antonio Attorney

American Airlines, Inc was unsuccessful in its efforts to prevent passenger service agents from forming a union.

The decision made by the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans on Wednesday signifies that the union election among the airline’s 10,000 passenger-service agents can move forward, according to the Communications Workers of America, which seeks to represent the employees.

The union is very happy about the court decision, saying that they have been fighting to have union voice for 15 years.

The decision of the appeals court is a predicament for the airline, which hoped to reduce its labor expenses through its reorganization plan. The Texas-based air carrier has worked out agreements to cut costs with mechanics, flight attendants, and other workers. The court also approved to throw out its labor contract with pilots, who rejected the airline’s offer in August.

In May, American Airlines filed a case against the National Mediation Board to block the union vote by passenger service agents. The election was blocked by U.S. District Judge Terry Means, saying the board went beyond its power when it allowed an election.

In February, a law took effect to raise the percentage of workers that should sign cards stating they would like a union vote of 50 percent or bigger, instead of the 35 percent minimum.

The judge stopped the vote scheduled in June, because it found that the 50 percent standard was applicable to the Communications Workers of America’s application to represent the employees.

In the decision of appeals court, it said that Judge Means “erred in exercising jurisdiction.” A reevaluation of the decisions made by National Mediation Board is apt provided that the agency has done a flagrant oversight, according to the court.

American Airlines sent letters to employees saying the ruling meant that the 50 percent law may still be applicable and may eventually prevent a legitimate election.

A new schedule of the election is now necessary, said CWA spokesman Chuck Porcari. The initial schedule of the vote was between June and August 2012.


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