The Transport Workers Union July 23 filed with the National Mediation Board objections to a representation election being sought by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters at American Airlines, alleging that an IBT organizer forged authorization card signatures of workers.
The Teamsters, which denied TWU's charges, previously submitted a petition and authorization cards to NMB for an election to represent the carrier's 11,000 mechanics and related workers, currently represented by TWU.
TWU is an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, while the Teamsters is part of the Change to Win coalition of unions.
After examining the authorization cards, NMB directed TWU and the Teamsters to file challenges to the list of eligible voters provided by the Dallas-based airline and to raise objections on any other matters in the representation dispute.
As evidence in support of its claim that cards were forged by an IBT organizer, TWU submitted two affidavits, one from a second IBT organizer who was involved in the American Airlines campaign and one from a former employee of the Teamsters' Organizing Department who was in regular contact with organizers.
"While our declarants did not directly witness the commission of the forgeries, they were alerted to this misconduct by fellow organizers and other staff who either witnessed the misconduct or were made aware of it," TWU told NMB.
Forging authorization cards is not only a violation of NMB rules but also a criminal offense, according to TWU.
IBT Denies Any Wrongdoing
TWU said it had only limited information on how many forged cards were submitted or how they were processed. "[W]e have no evidence of any remedial actions undertaken by the IBT aside from taking the organizer primarily in question off of the American raid," TWU added.
TWU noted that the affidavits came from two IBT professional organizers and that they were not "spies" planted by the TWU within IBT's operations.
In copies of the affidavits that were publicly released, TWU blacked out the names of the two declarants and of most witnesses named by them. But it submitted unredacted affidavits to NMB.
TWU urged NMB investigators to subpoena and interview the two former IBT officials "and the various witnesses" to obtain full evidence regarding the forgeries and accurately assess their impact on IBT's petition for an election.
If the allegations are confirmed, "NMB must remedy these violations and consider requiring the Teamsters to start their tainted drive over again," Frank McCann, TWU director of organizing, said in a separate statement.
In response, David Bourne, director of the Teamsters' Airline Division, issued a statement July 23 denying TWU's allegations.
"We deny any wrongdoing or knowledge of wrongdoing in the campaign by American Airlines mechanics and related workers to achieve Teamsters representation," Bourne said.
He said TWU's allegations are "a diversionary scheme to bring the Teamsters into public disrepute."
"The NMB is conducting its routine eligibility verification process, and we trust its findings will finally clear the way for the workers at American Airlines to choose new, strong representation," Bourne said.
IBT has not yet filed a formal response to TWU's charges but plans to do so, a spokeswoman said July 24.
Two Cards Received for Same Worker
In one affidavit, a former IBT organizer stated that he or she was told by another Teamsters employee that the organizer in question was not conducting routine home visits to the American Airlines workers he was assigned to visit. Instead the organizer in question "sat in his car and filled out house call sheets and falsely signed authorization cards" and submitted them to the union's organizing office in Tulsa, Okla., according to the affidavit.
In some cases, two authorization cards from the same American Airlines employee were received, one from the worker and one from the organizer, and the signatures did not match, according to the declarant.
In the second affidavit, the former Organizing Department employee said he or she was told by "multiple persons involved in the IBT raid at American Airlines" that a Teamsters organizer along with directors and coordinators "were involved in falsifying authorization cards and other related documents and concealing the facts from the NMB."
The former employee said Teamsters officials conducted an investigation and discovered the organizer had falsified house call sheets and had turned in more than 480 authorization cards. Out of fear NMB might learn of the misconduct, IBT removed the organizer from the American Airlines campaign and relocated him, the declarant said.
December 30, 2011: Members of the International Brotherhood or Teamsters have ratified a first contract with United Airlines, a subsidiary of United Continental Holdings Inc., that provides some 5,500 aircraft mechanics and related employees with “significant” wage increases, maintenance of health care benefits, and enhanced job security protections, the union announced Dec. 29.
“Passage of this agreement was a real breakthrough and a major step toward achieving the ultimate goal of a single combined contract for the 9,000 mechanics” at a merged United and Continental Airlines, Roger Apana, a member of the IBT negotiating committee, said in a statement. “It feels good that we were able to achieve an $11,500 signing bonus along with restoring many of the items that were conceded in bankruptcy and securing the best job protection we've had in our 70-year history.”
In March, the parties reached an initial tentative agreement, which was rejected by union members (107 DLR A-17, 6/3/11). Five months later, the parties reached the revised tentative agreement (219 DLR A-2, 11/14/11) and put it out for ratification.
The agreement is the first between the parties since IBT won the right to represent United's mechanics in March 2008 (62 DLR A-8, 4/1/08). It was reached nearly one year after United Continental Holdings negotiated a similar agreement with IBT to cover Continental Airlines' 3,700 mechanics (249 DLR A-6, 12/29/10).
United and Continental merged on Oct. 1, 2010, but the two airlines continue to operate as separate operating subsidiaries. The two carriers hope to harmonize as a single carrier. The holding company and the union will forge a single agreement to cover all the carrier's mechanics.
Parties Now Will Negotiate Joint Agreement
In a Dec. 29 statement, Jim Keenan, senior vice president of technical operations for United, said with the ratification “we now turn our attention to a joint agreement for all United and Continental mechanics, and are committed to reaching an agreement that is fair to the company and fair to our employees.”
Under the United agreement, employees will receive wage increases averaging 16 percent over the life of the agreement, Teamsters spokeswoman Leigh Strope told BNA Dec. 29.
According to a summary of the agreement, upon ratification, technicians with 13 or more years of service will be earning $36.06 an hour on the day shift, $36.57 on the afternoon shift, and $36.64 on the evening shift. Those rates will increase July 1, 2012, to $36.92 on the day shift, to $37.43 on the afternoon shift, and to $37.50 on the evening shift.
In a Dec. 2 letter to members urging ratification of the revised tentative agreement, IBT General President Jim Hoffa and David Bourne, director of the union's airline division, said the new contract would provide a signing bonus of $11,500, a significant increase from the $3,000 lump-sum payment that had been included in the agreement rejected in June.
Another major change from the rejected agreement provides that once the contract becomes amendable on June 30, 2013, the existing medical plan will remain in place while the parties negotiate for a new agreement and continue until the new agreement is ratified by the membership.
Under the rejected tentative agreement, the medical plan would have sunset or defaulted Jan. 1, 2013, if the parties were unable to settle on a new, less costly plan by that date.
The contract provides for an early out, buy-out program that is based on a cost of $75,000 per employee, according to the summary. “Unlike prior company buy-outs, the program … is not conditioned on a minimum number of employees opting to take the buy-out.
Likewise, it does not contain the restrictive age-and-service requirements that were contained in prior buy-outs and which made those prior buy-outs rather ineffective,” Hoffa and Bourne said.
The agreement establishes a committee to study the cost of living for mechanics based in San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Denver, and Washington, D.C.
Text of the summary of the tentative agreement, the full tentative agreement, and the Hoffa and Bourne letter may be accessed here.
Michelle Amber BNA Daily Labor Report.
September 15, 2011: At the official debate for candidates for Teamster president, two of the three present were stumped when asked what to do about the recent contract rejection by 5,000 United Airlines Teamster mechanics. Ken Hall and Fred Gegare punted, because it was clear they didn’t know anything about it. Sandy Pope addressed the issue of bargaining with a profitable corporation that previously got deep concessions when it was in bankruptcy.
That sums up the situation in the airline division: an International Union that is on the sidelines at best, instead of leading.
Teamster mechanics at United Airlines and Continental will soon be merged, a unit of nearly 10,000 members.
The United Airlines contract is a crucial pace-setter, and the International should be mobilizing for a good contract, as they did when the Teamsters competed with other unions to get the mechanics into the union. A good start would be a bargaining committee responsive to the members.
Campaigning for Sandy Pope
Mechanics at both carriers are campaigning for Sandy Pope, and for a leadership with a plan and commitment to the airline members.
“We’re kept in the dark. We don’t even know if the International will change the negotiating team after the contract rejection.
“The company has a plan, and our union needs to have a plan. That’s why we’re backing Sandy Pope,” said Mike Albertin, a chief steward for United Airline mechanics in Locals 856 and 986 in San Francisco.
At Republic Airline Holdings, 3,000 Teamster pilots are bargaining with a management that is writing the book on stalling and regressive bargaining. Presently they are retaliating against the pilots with the threat of lay-offs, even though they need more pilots. (Republic operates as Chautauqua, Frontier, and Shuttle as well as Republic.) These Teamsters need an active, aggressive Airline Division to back them up.
Sandy Pope stated, “We have real power if we take seriously our position in trucking, distribution, rail and airlines. That's what I intend to do."
We’re Backing Sandy Pope
“We’re kept in the dark. We don’t even know if the International will change the negotiating team after the contract rejection. The company has a plan, and our union needs to have a plan. That’s why we’re backing Sandy Pope.”
Mike Albertin Chief Steward, Local 856, San Francisco Airport
August 24, 2011: The IBT has filed objections to the recent vote of United Airlines and Continental fleet service workers. The International Association of Machinists won the vote narrowly (by 311 votes) over the IBT, to represent the 14,000 workers. The IBT statement is here.
The official vote tally is availble here.
August 12, 2011: The union that represents ramp workers at United Airlines won an election on Thursday to cover more than 14,000 workers as it combines with Continental.
It's a big win for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which just gained more than 7,300 Continental workers from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
Click here to read more at the Chicago Tribune.
July 28, 2011: In early June, 5,000 United Airline mechanics voted down their proposed tentative agreement. Now they are looking at how to get a bigger voice in our Teamsters Union.
Whether they voted Yes or No on the contract, airline Teamsters want our union to be a powerful force for workers in their industry.
They want the right to elect their negotiating team. They want real communication between the leadership and the rank and file. They want an airline division with the staff and the vision to back them up in bargaining, and to mobilize members to win a good contract.
United Airline Teamsters are joining with other airline Teamsters to back Sandy Pope for Teamster president.
Greg Sullivan, a United mechanic in San Francisco and a Local 986 chief steward, said, “Sandy Pope has the vision, the smarts and the program we need. She’s not afraid to involve the members in decisions and in mobilizing for a good contract.”
Sandy Pope is reaching out to airline Teamsters in various crafts and at various carriers.
If you are an airline Teamster who wants to learn more about the Sandy Pope campaign, call (718) 282-0282 or visit www.SandyPope2011.org.
“Sandy Pope has the vision, the smarts and the program we need. She’s not afraid to involve the members in decisions and in mobilizing for a good contract.”
Greg Sullivan, United Airlines Mechanic Local 986, San Francisco Airport
April 21, 2011: In what may be the strongest signal yet of the new pro-labor orientation of the National Labor Relations Board under President Obama, the agency filed a complaint Wednesday seeking to force Boeing to bring an airplane production line back to its unionized facilities in Washington State instead of moving the work to a nonunion plant in South Carolina.
In its complaint, the labor board said that Boeing’s decision to transfer a second production line for its new 787 Dreamliner passenger plane to South Carolina was motivated by an unlawful desire to retaliate against union workers for their past strikes in Washington and to discourage future strikes. The agency’s acting general counsel, Lafe Solomon, said it was illegal for companies to take actions in retaliation against workers for exercising the right to strike.
Click here to read more at The New York Times.
March 30, 2011: Imagine an election where all non-voters are counted as “NO” voters. It’s undemocratic, and it would make it extremely hard to get enough “YES” votes to pass anything.
That’s exactly what House Transportation Chairman John Mica has in mind for airline and railway workers who are voting in union elections. Mica, who has taken more than $620,000 in campaign contributions from the airline industry, has put a provision into the FAA reauthorization bill that would make it much more difficult for railway and airline employees to form unions.
Click here to read more at Jobs with Justice.
August 16, 2010: As Delta Air Lines workers prepare to vote in massive union representation elections later this year, labor leaders say wins at the company could influence organizing around the Atlanta area and the South.
“Delta is an icon in Atlanta,” said Patrick Scott, who works with the AFL-CIO-organized ATL Solidarity Committee, a coalition to support union efforts. The Delta elections will “set the tone” for other unionization campaigns, he said.
Click here to read more at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
May 11, 2010: A 76-year-old transportation law was swept away Monday under a rule change announced by a federal agency.
The National Mediation Board, which oversees labor-management relations in the transportation industry, said future elections will require a simple majority of employees voting in favor of union representation. The upshot is that workers in the airline and railroad industries will have an easier path to organizing.
The previous rule, under the Railway Labor Act, counted any worker who did not participate as a “no” vote.
Read the full article at the Kansas City Star.