Machinists union seeks AirTran election

The International Association of Machinists has filed for a union election among airport workers and reservations agents at AirTran Airways, in advance of the proposed acquisition of AirTran by Dallas-based Southwest Airlines.

The Machinists union wants to represent about 3,200 airport workers and reservations agents at Orlando-based AirTran, which has its largest hub in Atlanta. The union’s last bid for a representation election among those workers failed a year ago because the union did not submit enough signed cards from interested workers to warrant a vote.

There is a one-year waiting period before a union can file again for an election. The union must submit cards requesting an election from at least 35 percent of eligible employees. The National Mediation Board determines whether an election will be held.

Two prior votes among AirTran reservations and airport agents failed, including a Teamsters election in 2005 and a Machinists union election in 2000.

The Machinists union already represents Southwest customer service agents and reservations agents. Machinists union District 141 president Rich Delaney said in a written statement that “AirTran employees do not want to go through a merger with Southwest Airlines without union protections.”

An AirTran spokesman said the company respects its employees’ right to decide on representation.

The filing comes as employees at Delta Air Lines have been settling labor issues from a 2008 merger with Northwest Airlines through a series of union votes. New voting rules put into effect earlier this year were expected to make it easier for unions to organize, but Delta flight attendants, baggage handlers and stock clerks have all voted against representation.