Jun 14, 2012
The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Terry Means granting a temporary restraining order to block the vote by nearly 10,000 passenger service agents at American Airlines means workers, not American Airlines, will suffer irreparable harm – the standard for such an order.
Judge Means will hold a hearing on June 21 for a preliminary injunction that could further delay the election and again harm workers who have been fighting for their right to a vote at American Airlines for 15 years. Means serves in Fort Worth, Texas and was appointed to the bench by George Bush in 1991.
Last December, CWA filed for an election for the nearly 10,000 agents. The National Mediation Board set an election date, but American Airlines repeatedly refused to turn over its mailing list to the NMB so the vote could go forward. In May, the airlines filed a lawsuit against the NMB, again defying the Board’s legal order for the airline to supply mailing information so the election could proceed. Despite the lawsuit, the NMB moved forward, setting a voting period of June 21- Aug. 2, citing the agency’s longstanding policy and the intent of the Railway Labor Act to resolve representation disputes “as expeditiously as possible.” Now, American Airlines is back in court.
American Airlines filed for bankruptcy with $4 billion in the bank, in large part to throw out its collective bargaining agreements with union workers and gut the jobs, benefits and working conditions for the passenger service group. American Airlines continues to press these workers to make life changing decisions about their jobs, and in a short time frame.
American Airlines doesn’t want to follow the law, it’s trying to rewrite the law.
There is no retroactivity for legislation, and clearly none for the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization. That’s been made clear to the airline by Senate leaders, who wrote to CEO Thomas Horton on May 15. “Beyond the clearly established precedent that limits the retroactivity of changes in the law, in this case, Congress included specific language in the amendments addressing this issue,” they said.
The Senate went even further, they wrote, with floor discussion by the two leading chairmen, Senators Rockefeller and Harkin, confirming that “the showing of interest requirement set forth in this legislation should only apply prospectively.”
CWA President Larry Cohen said CWA and agents have a message for American Airlines management. “This decision will live in infamy as an atrocious assault on workers’ rights. It will be remembered as total collaboration with a management discredited not only by vicious union busting but by the disgrace of bankruptcy. CWA will carry on this fight for representation and justice and decency for as long as it takes. American Airlines CEO Thomas Horton has picked the wrong fight.”