Fired Baggage Handler Battles Airline And Union

What's an airline baggage handler supposed to do when a passenger's luggage falls off the conveyor belt, pops open, and spews forth an untidy trail of socks, pajamas, and shampoo?

The answer, customer service baggage handler Bosco F. Sylvince, 47, of Willingboro, says in a lawsuit filed last week, is to grab the contents, stuff them back into the suitcase, fasten the clasps, and send the bag on its way.

That's company policy, and that's what Sylvince says he did on July 12, 2010, while working for United Airlines at Newark Airport. Instead, though, the suit says, Sylvince was accused of going through a passenger's bag without permission and was fired three weeks later, on Aug. 5.

The suit says that in 2009, Sylvince was fired over a similar incident, but the termination was rescinded after it was proved that he was replacing items that had fallen out of a customer's baggage.

Last week, Sylvince sued both United Airlines and his union -- the airline, for wrongful discharge and the union, for failure to represent him as he struggled to get back the job he lost in 2010.

The airline declined to comment, and the union, the International Association of Machinists (IAM), did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

Contact Jane Von Bergen at 215-854-2769, jvonbergen@inquirer.com, or follow @JaneVonBergen on Twitter. Read her workplace blog at www.philly.com/jobbing.

Copyright 2013 - The Philadelphia Inquirer

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