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AMR Union Election Delayed By Forgery Charge and Voter Challenge

CHARLOTTE, N.C. ( TheStreet) - Two months after the Teamsters Union called for a union election among mechanics at American (AAMRQ.PK), federal officials are still trying to determine whether the union has submitted enough signatures.

The Transport Workers Union says it is challenging the authenticity of signatures the Teamsters have submitted, while the Teamsters are challenging the list of eligible voters, submitted by the airline, from which the National Mediation Board is working.

The issues are scheduled to be addressed at a July 16 meeting where the two unions will make their cases. To approve an election, the NMB requires valid signatures from 50% plus one of the eligible voters.

"We believe from credible sources that one of the Teamster organizers had forged signatures on some cards," said Frank McCann, TWU director of organizing, in an interview. "We expressed that to the NMB. At the meeting, we are prepared to submit evidence that we believe will show that signatures on these cards were forged.

"I think the Teamsters are desperate," McCann said. "I don't think they have the 50% showing of interest that is required for an election." McCann said hundreds of signatures are in question. He declined to specify what evidence of forgery the TWU has, saying that it must be shown to the NMB before it can be released.

Teamster spokesman Galen Munroe did not respond directly to the charge that some signatures were forged. However, he said the IBT "is confident that we will have enough cards to make a showing of interest so that this campaign can move forward to an election."

"The IBT has already submitted more than 1,300 challenges to the list and intends to submit additional challenges in accordance with the NMB calendar," Munroe added. "The NMB has not made a final showing of interest finding because the eligibility list is in dispute."

Apparently one reason for the challenge is that the list includes names of furloughed workers. They are typically eligible to vote in union elections, although they can be disqualified for reasons such as taking another permanent job. McCann said the Teamsters dispute the right of furloughed workers to vote. He said the bargaining unit includes about 11,000 mechanics and related workers, including furloughed workers with recall rights.

The question of whether the Teamsters have enough signatures for an election at American was first raised by the union's opponents following a news conference on May 28, where the IBT announced that it had submitted signatures in support of a representation election, but a union spokesman declined to say how many signatures had been collected.

That was in contrast to the union's announcement on May 7, that it had submitted 2,800 signatures from about 4,500 US Airways (LCC) mechanics and related workers, active and inactive. A month later, the NMB announced it had set the dates for a union representation election among mechanics and related workers at US Airways. Voting began July 8.

McCann said he believes the IBT is in trouble because it is losing membership and has been under government control since 1989 and its biggest pension fund, the Central States Fund, is severely underfunded. (The IBT also has dozens of other pension funds.) He said the union left the AFL-CIO in 2005, saying the umbrella organization was not focused on organizing and long-term development of the labor movement, and yet the IBT is now raiding other unions.

The labor movement "should be focused on spending its money and time and resources to improve benefits for workers in this country," McCann said. "Instead, we are raiding each other."

Monroe said: "The IBT is the largest aviation mechanics union in the U.S. with a proud record of raising standards, protecting jobs and advocating for the craft. We're proud to be working with the thousands of AA mechanics who have reached out to us in order to build the power necessary to restore high standards and respect in the workplace."

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Ted Reed

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