For release Dec. 7, 2012
After A Year of Obstruction by American Airlines, Passenger Service Agents Are Exercising Their Democratic Right to Vote on Union Representation
Washington, D.C. — American Airlines passenger service agents today are exercising their democratic right to vote on union representation, one year after the Communications Workers of America (CWA) petitioned the National Mediation Board for the election on behalf of agents. Over the past year, American Airlines schemed to delay the vote, intimidate workers and disregard the law, all to block agents’ democratic right to vote.
The National Mediation Board (NMB) mailed out voting instructions to nearly 9,700 agents on Dec. 4, and agents have begun voting, by telephone or Internet. The election runs through January 15th. The passenger service group includes airport ticket counter and gate agents, ramp and cargo handling personnel as well as both office and home-based reservations agents.
Last May, the company sued the NMB to block the vote, and for months tried to rewrite national legislation passed in February 2012 that changed the rules for airline elections going forward, but not retroactively.
AMR's suit was upheld by a Dallas-based federal judge, but was struck down by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled unanimously that AMR was obligated to follow the directives of the NMB and that the election should go forward. A subsequent petition to the U.S. Supreme Court was dismissed by Justice Antonin Scalia.
Most recently, AMR tried to pad the voting lists by adding 900 individuals, some of whom have not worked for the airline for a year, and tried to block the votes of agents who do have recall rights.
Today, AMR continues to outsource jobs across its system, hiring low-paid contractors in the middle of the busy holiday travel season.
At Boston's Logan Airport, gate agents with over a decade of experience, earning a maximum of $50,000 a year, have been laid off and replaced by inadequately trained workers making $9.00 an hour — with no health benefits. At seven airports, AMR has outsourced its entire customer service operation over the past year.
AMR filed for bankruptcy in November, 2011 with $4 billion in the bank and now has more than $5 billion.