Press Releases

American Airlines Agents Come Close in Union Vote, CWA to File Objections Over Management Tactics

Monday, December 14, 1998

The Communications Workers of America will immediately file objections with the National Mediation Board over the illegal actions American Airlines management carried out during the drive by agents to win union representation.

Despite falling short this time in the election balloting, AA employees are determined to continue their fight for a real voice at their airline and the right to join their colleagues at the bargaining table. Nearly 5,800 agents voted for union representation.

"For more than year, we've worked hard to build a strong nationwide organization and to demonstrate to our co-workers that we can win the respect we deserve from our employer. As agents, and the only non-union group at AA, we know the only way we'll get that respect is through representation. We came closer this time than ever before, and I know that with CWA, we'll reach our goal," said Richard Shaughnessy, a Miami agent.

The vote count indicated that about 41 percent of the agents voted for union representation. Under the Railway Labor Act, more than a majority of the workers in the unit must cast votes in order for the election to be valid; anyone not returning a ballot- for any reason- is counted as a "no" vote. The number of agents at American Airlines eligible to vote in this election was 14,177.

Under the labor laws that govern most private industry workers, AA employees would have won their seat at the bargaining table, said Larry Cohen, CWA executive vice president and organizing director. The RLA also requires a standard for election that, if used in our national political elections, would mean that very few officials, including our president, could be voted into office, he noted.

American Airlines ran an aggressive, anti-union campaign, orchestrated by one of the nation's leading union-busting law firms. CWA said that the airline committed numerous illegal actions during the campaign, and will be filing formal objections with the NMB. "We believe that agents should have the opportunity to cast their votes in a fair election and we'll be with them all the way," Cohen said.