Union Attempt at Continental Fails

Field services employees at Continental Airlines voted against a bid to be represented by the Transport Workers Union of America, the carrier said Thursday.

It was the second failed attempt by the union in the past two years.

The vote to represent the 7,800 workers, which included ramp, operations and cargo agents, fell less than 300 votes short, according to the union.

The union-organizing campaign at Houston-based Continental had made the possibility of more airline mergers into an issue, a move the carrier had criticized.

The union said it received more than 3,300 votes supporting it but fell about 285 short of the majority of the votes cast, which it needed to become the workers' bargaining agent, according to the Associated Press.

The union fell 304 votes short to represent the workers in an election in 2005.

TWU International President James Little had called the topic of a merger "a driving force" in the latest election at Continental.

Some workers said during the campaign that the possibility of a merger between Continental and the larger United Airlines has workers especially concerned. They said they were worried they would lose seniority if there was such a combination and they were not represented by a union.

Several fleet service workers also contended they've suffered more than other employee groups as a result of recent cutbacks at Continental.

Continental had said previously that the transport workers and other unions had failed repeatedly in efforts to unionize ramp and cargo employees over the past 11 years.

Bill Meehan, senior vice president of airport services for Continental, said in prepared remarks Thursday that the airline was pleased that employees recognized the value of a direct working relationship.

"By honoring our commitments to employees, we will continue to maintain the culture of trust we've built at Continental Airlines," Meehan said.

About 3,000 of the carrier's fleet service workers are based in Houston. The National Mediation Board conducted the election.

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