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Delta Air’s Ticketing, Gate Agents Reject IAM Union

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Dec. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Ticketing, gate and reservation agents at Delta Air Lines Inc. rejected unionization, becoming the eighth group to do so after Delta bought Northwest Airlines.

Of the 12,518 people who cast ballots, 8,746, or almost 70 percent, voted against joining the International Association of Machinists, the Atlanta-based carrier said today in a statement. The Delta workers had been nonunion, while their Northwest counterparts were represented by the IAM.

The vote reaffirms Delta’s standing as the least unionized among major U.S. carriers, dating to the company’s start in the 1920s as a crop-dusting service. Union efforts have failed for at least 55,000 workers, including flight attendants and baggage and cargo handlers.

The IAM said it plans to file an interference claim over “intimidation” tactics by Delta, without providing further detail. The Association of Flight Attendants filed an interference claim last month and Delta has until Dec. 21 to respond, Mike Campbell, the airline’s labor chief, told reporters on a conference call.

Interference claims should be dismissed because the carrier’s actions during the voting campaigns were “completely within the bounds of what’s allowable and acceptable,” he said.

New Rule

“The voice of the people should be heard and that decision respected,” Campbell said.

The Delta votes are among the first under a new National Mediation Board rule that makes it easier for employees to organize by letting the majority of ballots cast determine the outcome. Previously, an abstention was counted as a “no,” setting a higher threshold for unions to win approval.

Delta is the world’s second-largest carrier, behind United Continental Holdings Inc., which was formed in October through the merger of United Airlines and Continental Airlines.

Delta fell 36 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $13.12 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have gained 15 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mary Jane Credeur in Atlanta at mcredeur@bloomberg.net.

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

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