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Saturday, July 13, 2024 | Back issues
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American Airlines Loses Union Election Protest

FORT WORTH (CN) - Plagued by bad news this week, American Airlines lost a bid Wednesday to keep nonunionized employees from holding an election for representation.

The decision comes on the heels of suspicious flight delays and canceled flights during heated contract negotiations with the Allied Pilots Association. Rows of seats popping loose on separate planes also caused two emergency landings this week.

American met its latest blow from the 5th Circuit, which slammed U.S. District Judge Terry Means for halting a union election sought by approximately 10,000 nonunionized American Airlines employees.

Means erred in exercising jurisdiction over the suit, which American filed in May against the National Mediation Board.

The Communications Workers of American union had asked the board to investigate whether it could be certified to represent the airline's passenger-service employees, leading federal agency to order a union representation election.

American claimed that the Railway Labor Act bars the board from directing a union representation election unless the application is supported by at least 50 percent the employees in the "craft or class."

CWA's application allegedly failed to satisfy the 50 percent standard.

Passenger-service employees, which accounts for about 10,000 of the airline's 65,000 domestic employees, rejected union representation in an NMB election held in 1998, American said.

Means then ordered a halt to the election after a June 21 hearing.

The 5th Circuit disagreed, saying that only "egregious errors" by the board are subject to judicial review.

An exception spelled out in a previous 5th Circuit ruling "is not applicable on the facts of this case and therefore the district court erred in exercising jurisdiction," the ruling states.

CWA applauded the decision, noting that "those employees finally will have the opportunity to exercise their legal right to vote on union representation."

"The same American Airlines executives who took the airline into bankruptcy with $4 billion in the bank, which now has grown to $ 8 billion, also spent millions trying to stop workers from exercising their democratic rights," the union said.

American's passenger service employees look forward to the board setting a new election date as soon as possible, the CWA said.

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