More than 2,000 catering employees with United Airlines filed for a union election in January to organize under UNITE HERE.
The group constitutes 75 percent of the airline’s catering staff, according to a union press statement.
Eighty percent of the company’s employees — pilots, flight attendants, bag handlers, mechanics — are unionized nationwide.
The union filed with the National Mediation Board, an independent U.S. agency, created under the 1926 Railway Labor Act, that oversees labor-management relations within the U.S. railroad and airline industries.
Today, five Democratic senators urged United Airlines to respect its catering workers’ efforts to unionize in a letter sent to the company’s CEO last week.
“We are aware of allegations that United Airlines managers have intimidated, questioned and retaliated against workers engaged in protected union activities at the workplace,” the lawmakers wrote. “We call on you to examine these allegations and to take the necessary steps to ensure labor rights are fully respected.”
The letter, dated March 9, was signed by Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Con..) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.).
UNITE HERE, the union seeking to represent the catering workers, claims United Airlines managers have threatened workers with suspension for speaking about union activities. “In Houston, managers approached a group of workers discussing the Union in a parking lot on non-work time and told them to leave,” a UNITE HERE spokesperson told POLITICO. “One manager threatened that if they did not leave, she would call the authorities.”
Airport employees may not be on strike at your airport this week despite earlier reports to the contrary. Politico Pro is reporting that the SEIU union has called off those planned work actions.
American Airlines and SEIU entered talks to end strikes at five airports, the union said this morning.
SEIU temporarily suspended strikes at Philadelphia International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, LaGuardia and JFK while talks proceeded. Another strike at Denver International Airport was scheduled to proceed as planned.
“American and other stakeholders sit down to talks at 11:00 a.m. today,” Rob Hill, vice president of SEIU 32BJ, said in a statement. “While the strike is suspended as negotiations get underway, the airport workers are ready to go back on strike should talks fall apart.”
Union members are protesting alleged unfair labor practices by two airline contractors that employer service workers.