Passenger service workers for Allegeny Airlines in four cities have voted in favor of union representation, the largest successful organization attempt of airline industry workers in more than a decade.
But results of company-wide balloting, announced Friday, showed that labor failed to organize a second and larger group of the Washington-based airline's workers.
The union involved in both elections is the Air Line Employees Association (ALEA), an affiliate of the Air Line Pilots Association (AFL-CIO)
Voting in favor of the union, by a margin of 333 out of 604 eligible workers were ramp service personnel in Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Philadelphia and Boston - four key cities for the growing airline. The workers involved handle baggage and mail.
In a separate, company-wide vote among some 2,500 eligible reservations personnel, ticket agents and others engaged in passenger service, the union won by 509 votes.
John Manchester, regional director for ALEA, said that while the mixed returns did not reflect "total success, it is a major victory for the Allegheny people." The organizing drive at Allegheny began more than two years ago when some airline workers approached the union, Manchester said.
He claimed that Allegheny "went to extremes to combat" the union and said no formal complaints will be filed. "They beat us . . . but the significance is that we did succeed in organizing the largest group in the airline industry in the last 12 to 15 years," Manchester added.
ALEA also is attempting to hold an organizing election among some 6,000 eligible passenger service workers at Trans World Airlines, in a drive that started in 1974. The Teamsters is seeking to organize similar personnel at American Airlines and the International Association of Machinists recently filed for an election at Eastern Air Lines.
Among passenger service personnel, more than 80,000 currently are not organized by any union, Manchester said.
Pilots, flight attendants and maintenance workers at Allegheny long have been union members. Current contracts with mechanics expire Oct. 31, and with the pilots, on Nov. 30. Overall, the firm employs about 8,000 persons.