For Immediate Release: September 25, 2008
Contact: Corey Caldwell 202-434-0586
Congress Examines Antiquated Agency's Impact On Union Elections
National Mediation Board Under Spotlight for First Time in Recent History
Washington, DC – A Congressional committee yesterday scrutinized the anti-worker policies of the National Mediation Board (NMB), the federal agency charged to protect workers’ rights in the U.S. transportation industry. Patricia Friend, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) International President, testified before the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure along with the NMB’s three-member panel.
“For years, the NMB has established a series of onerous rules that have made it difficult for workers to organize in the aviation industry,” stated Friend. “A clear message needs to be sent to the NMB that they can no longer be a party in corporate America’s efforts to usurp the stated policy and precedent of Congress to ‘encourage unionization and collective bargaining.’”
The hearing carries particular urgency as the future of the collective bargaining rights for the vast majority of employees at Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines is threatened by the pending merger between the two carriers. Since Northwest flight attendants are members of AFA-CWA and Delta is not represented, an election must be called to determine union representation. However, under current NMB guidelines, over 50 percent of the combined 21,000 flight attendants must participate in the election in order for it to be valid. If less than 50 percent participate, the entire vote will be voided and Northwest flight attendants will lose over 60 years of collective bargaining rights.
In a Delta flight attendant election earlier this year for AFA-CWA representation, the NMB turned a blind eye to egregious union busting behavior by management. Some of the NMB’s improper behavior throughout the election included changing the election date, keeping over 1,700 furloughed flight attendants and soon-to-be-retired flight attendants on the eligibility list, and failing to remove a deceased flight attendant from the eligibility list. The NMB also has yet to respond to interference charges filed by AFA-CWA over four months ago.
For over 60 years, the Association of Flight Attendants has been serving as the voice for flight attendants in the workplace, in the aviation industry, in the media and on Capitol Hill. More than 55,000 flight attendants at 20 airlines come together to form AFA-CWA, the world’s largest flight attendant union. AFA is part of the 700,000-member strong Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFL-CIO. Visit us at www.afanet.org.