A federal judge in Fort Worth ruled in favor of American Airlines on Friday, blocking a union election representation vote for the carrier's passenger service agents.
In its lawsuit, American alleged that the union did not collect authorization cards from 50 percent of workers, as required by a law enacted in February.
The National Mediation Board argued that the previous standard, 35 percent, should be used since the union filed the election application in December.
The Communication Workers of America is trying to organize American's 9,700 customer service and gate agents and originally the NMB had planned to hold the vote from June 21 to August 2.
Judge Terry Means agreed with American and in his ruling said the election could go forward if the NMB determines that the union was able to collect authorization cards from 50 percent of the workers.
"Because the Board misapplied the plain text of Section 2, Twelfth, of the 2012 Act, and thereby acted in excess of its delegated authority, the Court has jurisdiction to hear American’s challenge to those actions," Means wrote in the six-page ruling. "Moreover, to give proper effect to the Court’s declaration that the 2012 Act prohibits the Board from ordering an election absent a fifty-percent showing of interest, the Court concludes that a permanent injunction is necessary."
The CWA said it plans to appeal the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals.
"American Airlines and the court continue to willfully misrepresent federal aviation law," the union said. "In correspondence with American Airlines CEO Thomas Horton, Senators Reid, Rockefeller and Harkin made clear that retroactivity did not apply, and addressed this specific petition in their discussion on the Senate floor. Judge Means is ignoring these statements, but he cannot change the facts."
American said it was pleased with the judge’s decision and reiterated that the union has admitted it can’t meet the 50 percent standard.
"As always, American respects the National Mediation Board’s committement to upholding the law and our employee’s right to free choice on issues of unionization," said spokesman Bruce Hicks.