Bloomberg News

American Wins Fight With Mediation Board Over Union Vote

June 22, 2012

AMR Corp. (AAMRQ:US)’s American Airlines won a court ruling preventing a union-representation election among passenger service employees until they meet a higher threshold for proceeding with a vote.

The National Mediation Board used the wrong standard when it authorized the election and “acted in excess of its delegated authority,” U.S. District Judge Terry Means in Fort Worth, Texas, said in a decision today.

The ruling comes as American is seeking $1.25 billion in annual labor cost reductions as part of its bankruptcy reorganization. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Sean Lane postponed a ruling to next week on whether the Fort Worth-based airline can scrap union contracts.

The Communications Workers of America, which seeks to represent the employees, said in a statement it would appeal the decision, which it called “a disgrace and a travesty of justice.”

“Agents have been denied their democratic right to vote,” the union said.

American sued the National Mediation Board in May, saying the agency applied the incorrect standard when it authorized passenger service employees, who book reservations and work in airports, to vote on whether to join the CWA.

The airline sought a ruling prohibiting the agency from directing an election unless there is a “showing of interest” from at least 50 percent of the employees, not the 35 percent standard the board used.

Means sided with American, saying the 50 percent standard governs the board’s conduct and blocking the agency from directing an election unless that threshold is met.

American spokesman Bruce Hicks said in a statement that the airline was pleased with the decision.

The case is American Airlines Inc. v. National Mediation Board, 12-00276, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Fort Worth).

To contact the reporter on this story: David McLaughlin in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Pickering at

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