Nearly 10,000 passenger service agents at American Airlines got some good news on Thursday – the union election they have been fighting for has formally been scheduled by the National Mediation Board (NMB) to begin on Dec. 4. However, there is one thing we already know about American Airlines — it will use every frivolous legal tactic and delay mechanism available to prevent this election from ever happening.
This is a company that, in an effort to deny these workers a vote, previously attempted to apply a new voting standard retroactively, delaying the election. Congress changed the law to increase the showing of interest required from 35% to 50% of eligible employees before an election could be held. American claimed that the new standard should apply to an election petition filed by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) in December 2011, two months before the law changed. Just this week, a Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit rejected this Hail-Mary legal theory, paving the way for a December election. But not to be discouraged by the facts, American is now promising to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
These employees, already reeling from American’s bankruptcy filing, have faced threats of massive outsourcing, wage cuts and draconian work rule changes – the types of issues that would be negotiated in the presence of a strong union, not imposed by a belligerent management. Of course, by blocking the organizing drive, American is counting on never having to negotiate with this group at all.
American’s passenger service agents have waited long enough. Time to vote.