Machinists top Teamsters in vote to represent US Air mechanics

Mon Aug 12, 2013 6:12pm EDT

U.S. Airways jets are seen at Reagan National Airport in Washington July 12, 2013. REUTERS/Larry Downing

U.S. Airways jets are seen at Reagan National Airport in Washington July 12, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

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(Reuters) - The machinists union on Monday won an election to represent nearly 5,000 US Airways Group LCC.N mechanics, beating back an attempt by the Teamsters to gain a foothold at the carrier ahead of its merger with American Airlines.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers received 1,903 votes, or 57 percent of votes counted, in the month-long election, based on certified results from the U.S. National Mediation Board. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters garnered 1,418 votes, or less than 42 percent of ballots counted.

In a statement, the Teamsters said it hoped the US Airways workers who supported its union would be heard. The US Air mechanics have been represented by the machinists union since 1949.

"Hundreds of mechanics and related (workers) at US Airways had the courage to launch a campaign and more than 1,400 voted for change," said Bret Caldwell, communications director for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

"They reached out to the Teamsters because they are the lowest-paid mechanics and have the lowest standards in the industry and wanted a strong alternative to their failed representation," Caldwell added in a statement.

The Teamsters made a big push this year to displace unions at both US Airways and its merger partner American. In May, it filed with the U.S. mediation board seeking an election for mechanics at American, who are currently represented by the Transport Workers Union.

But the Transport Workers fought back, alleging in filings submitted to the NMB in July that Teamsters organizers forged signature cards that purported to show workers' interest in switching their membership. A union needs to show interest from 50 percent plus one of eligible voters in a worker group to qualify for a national election.

Don West, a spokesman for the National Mediation Board, said the Teamsters-American Airlines matter was still being investigated. The Teamsters have denied the forgery charge from the Transport Workers Union.

US Airways said in a statement that it plans to resume contract talks with the mechanics' bargaining agent.

The proposed merger of US Airways and American would create the world's largest carrier.

(Reporting by Karen Jacobs in Atlanta; Editing by John Wallace and Dan Grebler)

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