American Airlines passenger service agents began voting in a union representation vote on Tuesday, more than a year since the agents asked federal mediators to conduct the vote.
The Communications Workers of America is attempting to organize the 9,700 American passenger service agents. American has filed several legal challenges to the representation election, with its most recent motion to halt the election denied by U.S. Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia.
Agents can cast their vote by telephone or over the Internet through January 15. The union vote is conducted by the National Mediation Board. If the CWA receives a majority of the vote, the union will be certified to represent the agents.
"American has also tried to disenfranchise agents by seeking to exclude from the voting lists agents who just lost their jobs and have recall rights, as well as those still working during the voting process but have plans to retire," said CWA organizing director Sandy Rusher. "As the election begins, they are still trying to throw monkey wrenches into the process."
The union and American are currently disputing whether or not 900 employees who were hired in the past year should be included in the union representation vote. The CWA says American is trying to pad the voting list to dilute the percentage of "yes" votes.
American said it believes all employees in the work group should be allowed to participate in the vote.
"The CWA accused the Company of trying to 'pad' voter lists when American asked that Agents and Reps hired in the last year be eligible to vote. While the union calls them 'padding,' we call them people. The CWA will certainly want to collect union dues and fees from those same 900 people they now call 'padding,'" the company said in a statement.