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Latest News - December 2010

December 03, 2010
Union Requests AirTran Unionization Vote Before Merger
Source: Wallstreet Journal
By: Joan Solsman

An airline union is making a representation push at AirTran Holdings Inc. (AAI) ahead of the discount airline's proposed merger with Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV).

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, also known as IAM, has requested a representation election for more than 3,200 fleet-service, passenger-service and reservations workers at AirTran.

"AirTran employees do not want to go through a merger with Southwest Airlines without union protections," IAM District 141 President Rich Delaney said. "Even if the merger is not completed, the machinists union will ensure these AirTran employees receive the compensation and respect that every worker deserves."

AirTran "respects the right" of its crew members to choose representation, spokesman Christopher White said. The last three times this work-force group voted on unionizing it opted against it, he said.

AirTran's pilots, flight attendants and dispatchers belong to their own respective unions, he said.

The IAM union currently represents 5,000 Southwest customer-service and reservation agents.

The National Mediation Board, an independent agency that facilitates labor relations in the railroad and airlines sectors, will review the union's request.

Southwest, the country's biggest discount airline, plans to buy AirTran for about $1.4 billion in cash and stock. The deal is expected to close in the first half of next year.

AirTran shares were down a penny at $7.45 in recent trading. The stock is up 43% so far this year.



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