American Loses Bid To Block Union Vote

Nov. 28--U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia denied a request by American Airlines to delay a union representation election for passenger service agents so the high court could hear its appeal, union organizers said Tuesday.

Without the delay, voting by the 9,700 agents is scheduled to begin next week on Dec. 4, with votes tallied by the National Mediation Board on Jan. 15.

The Supreme Court request was the latest legal challenge made by the Fort Worth-based airline to try and stop the organizing effort by the Communications Workers of America.

"We believe pursuing this case on behalf of the majority of American's agents and representatives who did not seek or authorize a union election was the right approach," said American spokesman Bruce Hicks. "With the election now going forward, we urge all of our agents and representatives to vote."

American, which is restructuring in bankruptcy court, argued that the union did not collect authorization cards from 50 percent of workers, as required by a law enacted in February. The NMB, which oversees union representation elections, argued that the previous 35 percent standard should be used since the application for an election had been filed in December 2011, while an older law was in place.

"It's been just about one year since agents filed for this election, and many agents have seen their jobs outsourced, wages and benefits cut over that period," said CWA spokeswoman Candice Johnson. "Agents want their union, and today's decision brings that union another step closer."

The union said that American could appeal to the full Supreme Court but would need four of the nine justices to hear the case, which probably would not occur until January. Voting instructions for the upcoming election were mailed out Tuesday. A majority of the votes cast will decide the election.

Andrea Ahles, 817-390-7631

Twitter: @Sky_Talk

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