Passenger service agents rally outside the District Court in Fort Worth, Texas, then go inside as Judge Means hears American Airlines' bid to further block workers' democratic vote.
American Airlines agents and supporters rallied today outside the U.S. District Court in Ft. Worth, Tex., then went inside where Judge Terry Means was hearing American Airlines' case for a preliminary injunction that would further stop the 10,000 agents from exercising their democratic right to vote.
A decision by Judge Means was expected late today or Friday. The court required agents and supporters to turn their red t-shirts inside out so that the "CWA Organize" message wasn't visible. But the judge also asked critical questions of American Airlines' attorneys. He pressed for an answer as to how the airline would be "irreparably harmed" and found the response not convincing.
"Agents are being denied their basic democratic right to vote, and this is a travesty in a country that prides itself on democratic tradition," said CWA Organizing Director Sandy Rusher.
Worse, this legal action is based on inaccurate statements by American Airlines and its willful misrepresentation of federal aviation law, despite hearing from the law's authors — Senators Reid, Rockefeller and Harkin — that the law does not apply to the agents' election, she said. "Two days ago, agents should have been celebrating their election victory. Instead American Airlines has sued the National Mediation Board and a fair, lawful election has been delayed twice. Now that vote is stalled again."
At a rally before the hearing, a crowd of agents and supporters from CWA Locals 6201, 6215, 6111 and 6186 stressed that having union representation was critical if passenger service agents were to have any voice in the demands American Airlines is making of them. American Airlines filed for bankruptcy with $4 billion in the bank, mainly to throw out collective bargaining agreements of unionized workers and slash the jobs, wages and benefits of agents.
CWA Vice President Claude Cummings said working people unfortunately are "used to seeing corporate greed — the 1% stepping all over whomever they need to in order to take care of themselves. But American Airlines management has hit a new low."
"This company won't even let you decide if you will have a collective voice or any voice in this process. It has been willing to lie to a federal agency, the NMB, and then file a frivolous lawsuit against that same federal agency. It has been willing to waste millions of dollars on union-busting attorneys, all to deny agents a right that should be fundamental in a democracy, the right to vote," Cummings said.
Salma Kassam, who has worked as a passenger service agent at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport for the past 18 years, said, "We are here with our hands bound because this court has imposed a restraining order on our right to vote in an election for representation. We are here to express our outrage that American Airlines has fought our right to vote at every step.
"Under the guise of bankruptcy, American Airlines is trying to destroy everything we have worked for and do it before we can have a voice in the process. There are people here today who are losing their jobs because the company has decided the way to make this company great again is to impede our ability to provide customer service," she said.
CWA will continue to focus attention on how American Airlines is ignoring Congress and is trying to impose its own interpretation of congressional intent. We will make every legal challenge and argument necessary to make sure that agents get their right to vote.