Virgin America says it expects union drive will fail

SEATTLE Wed May 21, 2014 7:17pm EDT

The first Virgin America flight lands in San Francisco, California, August 8, 2007. REUTERS/John Decker Virgin America/Pool

The first Virgin America flight lands in San Francisco, California, August 8, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/John Decker Virgin America/Pool

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Virgin America on Wednesday called its flight attendants' drive to join a union detrimental and said it expects the effort to fail like a similar vote two years ago.

The Burlingame, California-based airline's flight attendants petitioned on Tuesday for a vote on whether to be represented by the Transport Workers Union (TWU), a move that, if successful, would leave no non-union airline in the U.S. industry.

Since launching in 2007, Virgin America has focused on "making flying good again," and "a third party like the TWU would only detract from that," spokeswoman Jennifer Thomas said.

Flight attendants rejected a previous TWU organization drive in December, 2011. "We're confident we'll see a similar outcome this time," Thomas said.

The TWU said it had received signature cards from a majority of the Virgin America flight attendants in a drive that began last July, meeting the requirement set by the National Mediation Board, which holds elections to determine which union, if any, employees want to represent them. The prior drive began in 2009 under rules that required less than half of workers sign cards.

Virgin America flight attendants have raised concerns about work rules and pay, said Thom McDaniel, a TWU international vice president. "The employees really want to have a say in what their work rules are," he said.

Virgin America has a fleet of 53 Airbus (AIR.PA) A320 jets and recently reported its first full-year profit. It has orders for 40 more Airbus planes.

(Reporting by Alwyn Scott; Editing by Dan Grebler)