Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Votes for Some

The Communication Workers of America (CWA) is in an ongoing dispute with bankrupt American Airlines over an attempt to unionize the struggling carrier’s passenger service agents. Under National Mediation Board (NMB) rules—as an air carrier, American’s labor rules are set by the Railway Labor Act — 50 percent of the agents must sign a statement of interest before an election can be held.

Before February, that threshold was 35 percent. Since the CWA started its campaign before the law changed, it argued that it only needed to meet that threshold, but a federal judge disagreed. From the Associated Press:

Judge [Terry R.] Means, who oversaw a brief trial in his Fort Worth, Texas, courtroom this month, ruled that the 50-percent standard applied by the time that the mediation board got around to reviewing the union’s election request in April. He issued an injunction barring the board from conducting any further election-related activities.

Needless to say, the CWA is displeased. And to garner support, the union is promoting this advertisement:

Of course, the CWA didn’t always think that “stopping workers from voting is UnAmerican.” Back in 2009, the CWA and its parent, the AFL-CIO, endorsed and pushed hard for the so-called “Employee Free Choice Act,” which would have curtailed employees’ right to vote on whether to unionize. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, the CWA has backed voting.


Categories: AFL-CIOCenter for Union Facts