Delta, UPS, Carriers Sue L.A. Airport Over Union Deals

A group representing air carriers including Delta Air Lines Inc. and United Parcel Service Inc. sued Los Angeles International Airport to block a new requirement for companies that clean and provide baggage services for their planes to bargain with unions.

A new rule mandates that companies providing services including aircraft fueling and cleaning, baggage handling and ticket services negotiate so-called labor-peace agreements with unions representing workers in those fields, even if their employees aren’t members.

Airlines for America said in its complaint filed today in Los Angeles federal court that only U.S. law, not local law, can regulate labor relations in the airline industry and that the city’s requirement is illegal.

“Creating a patchwork of conflicting local labor regulations inappropriately interferes with airlines’ ability to manage their operations,” Rob DeLucia, a vice president for the group, said today in a statement. “This proposal unnecessarily harms airlines and the customers we serve.”

Airlines for America filed a similar complaint Nov. 11 against the Port of Seattle, seeking to block a planned increase in the minimum wage for about 3,500 workers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The pay raise would affect airlines’ prices and services, the group said.

The group also represents American Airlines Group Inc., Federal Express Corp., JetBlue Airways Corp. and Southwest Airlines Co., among other carriers.

‘Enormous Leverage’

Nancy Castles, an LAX spokeswoman, said in an e-mail that Los Angeles World Airports, which operates the city’s airports, hadn’t yet received the complaint and declined to comment on it.

According to the complaint, the city’s requirement gives unions “enormous leverage” over the airlines’ servicers because the unions can seek concessions for agreeing to a no-strike provision.

This would make the union the bargaining representative for workers who aren’t members, according to the complaint.

The case is Airline Service Providers Association v. Los Angeles World Airports, 14-cv-08977, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

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