American Airlines Fails to Block Agents' Right to Vote



The CWA Executive Board applauds Rosemary Capasso, a passenger service agent at Dallas Ft. Worth Airport.


U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia — one of the most "business friendly" justices — has cleared the way for nearly 9,700 American Airlines passenger service agents to vote on union representation. Denying the airline's last-ditch plea for an appeal, the high court finally put an end to attacks on workers' democratic right to an election.

Sample instructions were sent to CWA and American Airlines management this week, and on Dec. 4, voting instructions will be sent to agents, with voting conducted by telephone or Internet. The National Mediation Board will tally votes at 2 pm on Jan. 15.

This was just the latest legal challenge to employees' struggle for a union voice. For more than a year, American Airlines has been battling workers and CWA over agents' democratic right to vote, ignoring declarations by leading members of Congress that agents were entitled to vote, two decisions by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and previous directives from the NMB setting an election date.

The stakes for agents are high. American Airlines has been cutting and outsourcing jobs, completely closing operations in at least seven stations and cutting agents' wages and benefits, all with more than $5 billion in the bank. Ken Merker, a 20-year airport agent in Miami, says agents have fought long and hard for their right to vote. "When we start voting on Dec. 4, it will have been a year since we filed for this election — and what a terrible year it has been. American in bankruptcy, our pensions frozen, our retiree medical gone, our medical costs skyrocketing,"

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court denied the airline's request for a hearing without comment. But American Airlines hasn't stopped trying to interfere with workers' rights.

"American is trying to disenfranchise agents' right to vote, by seeking to exclude from the voting lists agents who just lost their jobs and have recall rights, as well as those still working for American Airlines during the voting process but who have plans to retire. And it's trying to pad the voting lists by adding nearly 900 workers. American Airlines has had a year to make its claims about changes to the lists, but doing it now, on the eve of the election, makes its true motive clear. American Airlines wants to throw another monkey wrench into the process, but agents are ready," said Sandy Rusher, CWA organizing director.