American Airlines Wins Order Blocking Union Election

AMR Corp.’s American Airlines won a court order temporarily blocking passenger-service employees from conducting a union representation election because it might violate labor laws.

U.S. District Judge Terry R. Means in Fort Worth, Texas, yesterday granted the provisional order requested by the airline three days ago. He also denied a National Mediation Board bid to dismiss the carrier’s lawsuit and slated a consolidated preliminary injunction hearing and trial for June 21.

“American appears likely to succeed on the merits of its claims, and thus immediate, substantial and irreparable damage, injury and loss will result to American before a hearing on its request for a preliminary or permanent injunction can be had,” Means said in a four-page order.

The passenger-service employees, who take reservations and work at airports, are scheduled for a vote on whether to be represented by the Communications Workers of America. The balloting is set to take place from June 21 to Aug. 2, according to the union.

The third-biggest U.S. airline sued the board in May over its decision to order the election, arguing it failed to determine whether the election was supported by 50 percent of the employees in the class as required by federal labor law.

There are 9,400 workers in the passenger service employee class, according to the union.

‘It’s Un-American’

“It’s agents at American Airlines who will be irreparably harmed because they are being denied their democratic right to vote,” Candice Johnson, union spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement. “It’s un-American.”

In its May 2 complaint, American said that while the union’s request for the election in December met a then-applicable employee-interest standard of 35 percent, the threshold was raised to 50 percent, effective immediately, in February before the board ordered the vote.

The National Mediation Board, seeking dismissal of the suit, argued there was no requirement that the statute be applied retroactively to election applications, and that the court had no jurisdiction over the dispute.

Means rejected that argument yesterday and ruled the case could go forward.

“Now, as we have hoped all along, the court will have a full opportunity to review and rule on whether or not the correct law was applied in the NMB’s decision to call for an election,” Missy Cousino, a spokeswoman for Fort Worth, Texas-based American Airlines, said in an e-mailed statement.

There was no reply to a voice-mail message left with the National Mediation Board information hotline in Washington.

The case is American Airlines Inc. v. National Mediation Board, 12-cv-276, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Fort Worth).

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