FORT WORTH (CN) – American Airlines sued the National Mediation Board in Federal Court over its decision to hold a union representation election among nonunionized passenger-service employees of the bankrupt airline.
The ruling came after the Communications Workers of American union asked the board to investigate whether it could be certified to represent the airline’s passenger-service employees.
American claims that under the Railway Labor Act, the board cannot direct a union representation election unless the application is supported by at least 50 percent the employees in the “craft or class.”
American said the CWA’s application does not satisfy the 50 percent standard. It claims that about 10,000 of its 65,000 domestic employees are passenger-service employees, and they rejected union representation in an NMB election held in 1998.
“The CWA’s application was supported by authorization cards from an undisclosed number of passenger service employees expressing interest in CWA representation,” the complaint states. “While the exact number of cards submitted by the CWA is known only to the CWA and the NMB, the CWA itself has publicly indicated the number is substantially less than 50 percent of 9,400.”
The National Mediation Board is a federal agency headed by a three-member board appointed by the U.S. president. Created under the Railway Labor Act of 1934, the board coordinates labor-management relations in the domestic airline and railway industries. Its responsibilities include investigating union applications for representation elections and determining if a union election is warranted.
American’s parent company, AMR, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November 2011. American CEO Thomas Horton said the company runs at a substantial cost disadvantage to its larger competitors, which already had restructured their costs and debt through Chapter 11.
American seeks declaratory judgment that the board is prohibited by the Railway Labor Act from ordering the election.
It is represented by Dee Kelly with Kelly Hart & Hallman of Fort Worth.