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Union Claims Piedmont Airlines Retaliated

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CN) - Piedmont Airlines stripped customer service agents of opportunities for higher pay because they unionized, but did not apply the same treatment to nonunion workers, the Communication Workers of America claims in Federal Court.

Piedmont, a subsidiary of U.S. Airways, resisted the union drive from about 3,000 agents by hiring consultants and distributing anti-union literature, the union says in its complaint.

The CWA says Piedmont retaliated against the unionized workers by rescinding their ability to earn more through performance evaluation programs.

Piedmont stripped union members of the ability to participate in its Annual Employee Evaluation and Merit Increase Program, and its Capped Employee Bonus Program, but let nonunion workers keep the program, according to the 6-page complaint.

"Had the customer service agents not chosen to unionize with CWA as their bargaining representative, those two employee compensation programs would not have been suspended," the complaint states.

The CWA sued Maryland-based Piedmont Airlines under the Railway Labor Act, demanding reinstatement of the programs, lost wages and benefits.

The workers are represented by Michael Healey with Healey & Hornack in Pittsburgh.

A U.S. Airways statement called the suit "meritless" and said it "undermines" the collective bargaining process.

"We respect the collective bargaining process and are negotiating in good faith with the certified representative of the employees (CWA) over pay and benefits," the airline said in its statement.

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