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Agency Sets American Airlines Union Election

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aabank Agency Sets American Airlines Union Election

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FORT WORTH (AP) - A federal labor-relations agency has scheduled an election to decide whether customer-service agents at American Airlines will be represented by a union.

American had tried to block the election sought by the Communication Workers of America. About 10,000 agents who work at ticket counters and airport gates will be eligible to vote.

The National Mediation Board had originally ordered an election to be held in May but was stymied when American sued the agency in federal district court in Fort Worth.

American said that under a new federal law, the union needed support from at least 50 percent of the agents before holding an election. The union argued that it needed just 35 percent support, the standard in effect last year when it requested the election.

In an order Wednesday, the mediation board said it was going ahead with the election because American had not won a court ruling to block turning over mailing lists of potential voters. It set the voting to begin June 21 and end Aug. 2.

American Airlines spokeswoman Missy Cousino said the company was disappointed in the board’s decision and is considering its response. She defended American’s lawsuit to try to block the election.

Cousino called the dispute “unprecedented” and said it “merits a court review before any election takes place.”

American has been operating under bankruptcy protection since November and is trying to break labor contracts with three other unions that represent pilots, flight attendants and mechanics. American has about 73,000 employees including nearly 55,000 who are represented by unions.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and two other House Democrats last week told AMR CEO Thomas Horton that it was “troubling” that a company in bankruptcy would spend limited resources on a lawsuit to prevent employees from organizing. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and two colleagues said Congress clearly didn’t intend for the 50-percent standard to apply retroactively.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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