Flight Attendant Union Defends Fair Elections For Aviation Workers

Washington, DC – The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) today participated in a public hearing before the National Mediation Board (NMB) regarding the recently passed amendments to the Railway Labor Act (RLA), specifically as it relates to the NMB’s merger policies and procedures. The anti-labor changes to the RLA included a new section of the statute, Section 2, Twelfth, which raises from 35 to 50, the percentage of the craft or class that must sign authorizations before the Board will conduct an election for union representation. AFA, together with many other transportation unions, argued that this new section of the law does not and should not apply to representation issues in a merger.

On February 6, 2012, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stated in a colloquy on the floor of the Senate “it is our intent that the National Mediation Board’s existing merger procedures…shall determine the percent of the craft or class to establish a showing of interest. Otherwise, employees could lose their representation simply by merging with a slightly larger unit without even having the opportunity to vote, which is unacceptable.”

Terry French, AFA president for Flight Attendants of former Mesaba Airlines, also told the Board of the devastating impact the new section of the law could have had on the merger of Pinnacle, Mesaba and Colgan Airlines and the subsequent representation election if it were applied retroactively to mergers. Because AFA represents only 30 percent of the entire Flight Attendant craft or class, AFA could have been banished from the election ballot and lost its certification without an election. Fortunately, within the two-week showing of interest period, hundreds of Flight Attendants signed cards in support of an election with AFA on the ballot. That election, including 1,800 Flight Attendants at the new Pinnacle Airlines, officially began yesterday and will conclude on July 16, 2012.

“No reading of the RLA can possibly support a policy that results in the loss of certification without an election,” said Pinnacle Flight Attendant and AFA Mesaba President Terry French who spoke at the hearing. “It is clear that Congress did not intend to apply this new showing of interest standard in mergers involving previously certified unions. As the government agency charged with the duty of ensuring that employees can freely choose union representation, the NMB must do everything possible to implement policies that preserve existing union certifications, not extinguish them.” 

The Association of Flight Attendants is the world’s largest Flight Attendant union. Focused 100 percent on Flight Attendant issues, AFA has been the leader in advancing the Flight Attendant profession for over 65 years. Serving as the voice for Flight Attendants in the workplace, in the aviation industry, in the media and on Capitol Hill, AFA has transformed the Flight Attendant profession by raising wages, benefits and working conditions.  Nearly 60,000 Flight Attendants at 21 airlines come together to form AFA, part of the 700,000-member strong Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFL-CIO. Visit us at www.afacwa.org.


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