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American Airlines Loses Effort to Stop Union Election

Oct. 3 (Bloomberg) -- AMR Corp.’s American Airlines lost a bid to stop a union-representation election for a group of employees as a federal appeals court threw out the carrier’s lawsuit challenging the vote.

The decision today by the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans means the union vote among approximately 10,000 passenger-service employees at the airline can proceed, the Communications Workers of America said in a statement. The CWA is seeking to represent the workers.

“For passenger-service agents at American Airlines who have been fighting for a union voice for 15 years, this is extremely good news,” the union said.

The appeals court’s decision is a setback for American, which is seeking to cut labor costs as part of its bankruptcy restructuring. The Fort Worth, Texas-based airline has negotiated cost-cutting deals with flight attendants, mechanics and other workers, and has won court approval to reject its labor contract with pilots.

American sued the National Mediation Board in May to stop the union election by passenger service employees. U.S. District Judge Terry Means in Fort Worth blocked the vote, and said the board exceeded its authority when it authorized an election.

The appeals court said in its decision that Means “erred in exercising jurisdiction.” Judicial review of National Mediation Board decisions is appropriate only when the agency has committed egregious error, the court said.

Don West, a spokesman for the mediation board, declined to comment. Bruce Hicks, a spokesman for American, had no immediate comment.

The case is American Airlines Inc. v. National Mediation Board, 12-10680, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (New Orleans).

To contact the reporter on this story: David McLaughlin in New York at dmclaughlin9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Pickering at jpickering@bloomberg.net

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