IAM Celebrates US Airways Win as Teamster Hopes Fade
CHARLOTTE (TheStreet) - As US Airways (LCC) mechanics left work at the airline's Charlotte hangar on Monday afternoon, they were greeted by about two dozen waving, cheering backers of the International Association of Machinists, who had staked out a strategic corner on the exit route.
Drivers honked their horns as the union celebrated a conclusive victory in a representation election for 4,376 mechanics and related workers, active and inactive, after Teamsters sought to raid the group, part of an effort to represent mechanics at what would be the world's largest airline following the pending merger of US Airways and American (AAMRQ.PK).
Now that effort is shattered. The IAM won 58% to 42%, amassing 1,903 votes compared to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters' 1,418. Meanwhile, the IBT's effort to have a representation election at American has been stymied by the allegation that some of the signatures on union representation cards were forged. The National Mediation Board is investigating.
Bill Wise, president of US Airways IAM Local 1725, was among the group gathered on the Charlotte corner. He attributed the IAM's victory primarily to economic issues."The IAM won because of what we have in the form of guarantees moving forward as far as seniority and retirement," Wise said. "We have a better chance of obtaining a better contract right now, without a long drawn out process, and we have a better pension plan. The Teamsters haven't demonstrated that they can come out with a better contract than what we have." Wise noted that staying under the IAM contract would guarantee seniority, which could not be assured under a contract with a new union once the carrier begins a merger integration. The IAM was in the late stages of contract negotiations when the Teamsters announced in May that they would seek an election. The negotiations were suspended. On Monday afternoon, after the votes were counted, a notice was posted on union bulletin boards at maintenance stations. "It is time to resume negotiations," said Tom Higginbotham, District 142 general chairman, in the statement. "The wait-and-see excuse has now passed. I have contacted both Mediator Walter Darr and US Airways Vice President Labor Relations Al Hemenway insisting negotiations resume immediately."
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