Calling the decision “a travesty of justice” for American Airlines agents, CWA on June 22 prepared to ask an appeals court to overturn a preliminary injunction issued in federal court to block agents from voting for representation.
“Three days ago, agents should have been celebrating their election victory,” said CWA Organizing Director Sandy Rusher. “Instead, American Airlines has sued the National Mediation Board and a fair, lawful election has been delayed twice. Now that vote is stalled again.”
CWA expected the worst from U.S. District Judge Terry Means, a Texas appointee of George H.W. Bush, and they got it. He ruled in favor of the company on the merits of the case, saying that a law passed in February 2012 should apply retroactively, even though the union filed for the election on Dec. 7, 2011, under different eligibility rules.
“This legal action is based on inaccurate statements by American Airlines and its willful misrepresentation of federal aviation law, despite hearing from the law’s authors, Senators Reid, Rockefeller and Harkin, that the law does not apply to the agents’ election,” Rusher said.
At a rally before the June 21 hearing, agents stressed that having union representation was critical if passenger service agents were to have any voice in the demands American Airlines is making of them. American Airlines filed for bankruptcy with $4 billion in the bank, mainly to throw out collective bargaining agreements of unionized workers and slash the jobs, wages and benefits of agents.
Salma Kassam, who has worked as a passenger service agent at DFW for the past 18 years, said, “We are outraged that American Airlines has fought our right to vote at every step. They have violated an order from a Federal Agency and they have interfered with our right under the Railway Labor Act, and now they are trying to re-write legislation passed this year and doing with the complicity of this court.”
CWA vowed to make every legal challenge and argument necessary to make sure that agents get their right to vote. CWA Vice President Claude Cummings accused American Airlines management of “hitting a new low” of corporate greed.
“This company won’t even let you decide if you will have a collective voice or any voice in this process. It has been willing to lie to a federal agency, the NMB, and then file a frivolous lawsuit against that same federal agency. It has been willing to waste millions of dollars on union-busting attorneys, all to deny agents a right that should be fundamental in a democracy, the right to vote,” Cummings said.