Bloomberg News

AMR Workers Reject Union After Legal Battle to Hold Vote

January 15, 2013

American Airlines passenger service workers voted against joining the Communications Workers of America, after the union won a legal battle to hold an election.

The workers rejected representation by the union by a vote of 51 percent to 49 percent, the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier said. AMR Corp. (AAMRQ:US)’s American has about 9,700 passenger service agents, who work at airport ticket counters, gates and baggage areas, the union said. American put the number eligible to vote at almost 7,900.

The result means American will have one fewer union to deal with as it completes bankruptcy restructuring, either independently or through a merger with US Airways Group Inc. (LCC:US) American is cutting $1.06 billion a year from labor costs, which it blamed for helping push the company into court protection on Nov. 29, 2011.

“Hundreds of agents at American Airlines have been active in this fight for a union for more than 15 years, and they won’t stop now,” the Communications Workers said in a statement. “There is no doubt that this group will get the union voice they want.”

US Airways passenger service agents are represented by a union, and a merger would give their counterparts at American another chance at representation, the statement said.

‘Work Closely’

“The company looks forward to continuing to work closely and directly with our agents and representatives as we build the new American Airlines,” Missy Cousino, a spokeswoman for the carrier, said in an e-mailed statement.

American disagreed with the CWA over the amount of support the union needed among workers to hold a representation vote. The union petitioned the National Mediation Board in December 2011 to stage an election, after collecting signatures of support from at least 35 percent of those eligible to vote, the minimum required by the agency.

In February 2012, Congress raised the threshold to 50 percent. When the mediation board said the vote could proceed under the previous standard, American appealed to a federal district court, which agreed to block balloting.

The CWA won an appeal before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and the airline filed papers with the Supreme Court on Nov. 21 asking that the election be delayed until the case could be heard. Justice Antonin Scalia denied the stay on Nov. 27.

AMR’s $460 million of 6.25 percent convertible notes due October 2014 fell 1 percent to 95.125 cents on the dollar at 5:24 p.m. in New York, compared with the closing price on the previous day of trading on Jan. 11, according to Trace, the bond-price reporting system of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mary Schlangenstein in Dallas at maryc.s@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ed Dufner at edufner@bloomberg.net


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