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The Associated Press June 6, 2011, 6:43PM ET

Federal board to investigate Delta union elections

Delta Air Lines Inc. now faces a second investigation over its handling of another union election.

The federal National Mediation Board told the airline on Monday that it would take a closer look at whether elections for three groups of workers were tainted. Last week, the NMB said it would do the same thing regarding a vote late last year that was narrowly lost by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA.

Pilots were the only large unionized group at Delta when it bought Northwest Airlines in 2008. The purchase triggered elections to see whether the unions who had represented Northwest workers would represent the combined groups.

Three votes covering about 29,000 workers ran through November and December. The groups were passenger service workers, such as those who work at ticket counters; fleet service workers, who include baggage handlers; and stock and store clerks. All three groups rejected the IAM.

The union had complained that Delta improperly interfered. The airline has countered that some workers were intimidated by union tactics.

The NMB notices on Monday said further investigation is needed to see if the elections were tainted, and that interviews and an on-site investigation will be conducted.

Delta has been frustrated by what it has claimed is a playing field that has been tilted toward the unions. "The AFL-CIO seems to control the NMB and this administration," Delta CEO Richard Anderson said in a hot line message to workers last week.

In a written statement, IAM General Vice President Robert Roach Jr. said the union "asked for and welcomes this investigation so the breadth of Delta's illegal actions can be exposed and employees can finally vote free from Delta's interference."

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