Union Loses Continental election

The Transport Workers Union fell nearly 300 votes short in its bid to represent baggage handlers and cargo agents at Continental Airlines Inc., the union's second setback in as many years at the Houston-based carrier.

The union said it received 3,350 votes supporting it but needed about 3,800 to represent the workers. The election was conducted by the National Mediation Board.

The union tried to convince workers that it would protect their jobs in case a rumored Continental-United Airlines deal takes place.

Company officials have denied they are planning a deal with United, and they accused the union of running a scare campaign.

The TWU effort was among the biggest organizing campaigns this year. The TWU fell 308 votes short in an election last year. The International Association of Machinists and the Teamsters have also failed in efforts to organize the Continental ground workers.

Although the percentage of private-sector workers represented by unions has been falling for decades, the airline industry remains highly unionized. Continental's pilots, flight attendants and mechanics are represented by unions.

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