Inexplicably, a Texas judge has enjoined a union election among 10,000 passenger service agents at American Airlines. His rationale? Well, let me try to explain. The workers filed for a union election last fall under rules that required 35 percent of workers to “show interest” in voting on unionization. They met that standard and filed for the election. In February of this year the law was changed to require a 50 percent showing of interest. Nothing in the law said the rule applies retroactively yet a federal judge has said the new rule applies to an old case meaning the workers would have had to know months ahead of time that the law would change.
As CWA said, this decision is a “disgrace and a travesty of justice.” CWA is correct.
Why does this matter to you? Primarily because we expect our laws and our judiciary to respect the right to vote. These American Airlines employees want nothing more than the right to decide if they want to be represented by a union. Just a vote with no guarantee of outcome.
But American has had a plan all along and now they’re exploiting our federal courts to advance that plan. They just want to run out the clock. For months American has defied an order by the National Mediation Board (NMB), which oversees these union representation matters, to hold an election. The company even refused to hand over an employee list in order for the election to proceed. When the NMB said it would go forward with the election using an employee list provided by CWA, American sued and managed to enjoin the election.
American is in bankruptcy – in fact, it is awaiting a bankruptcy judge’s decision on whether it can break all its collective bargaining agreements and walk away from its contractual commitments to employees. At least those workers covered by union contracts have had unions fighting for them in what has been an eight-month bankruptcy ordeal. The passenger service agents haven’t been so lucky – they’ve been forced to fend for themselves without a union voice.
Let’s be clear here. American management is counting on its passenger service agents not having a union voice. The executives are plotting a wrenching restructuring of passenger service agent jobs, likely resulting in massive outsourcing. These workers deserve the right to decide if they want a union voice to speak for them every step of the way.
But American has another plan. Forget about Democracy. Trample on worker rights.
Tell @AmericanAir it is being un-American.