Virgin America airline flight attendants vote to approve union

SEATTLE Wed Aug 13, 2014 5:01pm EDT

Crew members of Virgin Atlantic Airways stand together in Union Square during a promotional event by the British-owned airline to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth in New York June 2, 2012.  REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

Crew members of Virgin Atlantic Airways stand together in Union Square during a promotional event by the British-owned airline to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth in New York June 2, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Eduardo Munoz

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SEATTLE (Reuters) - Flight attendants at Virgin America airline approved representation by the Transport Workers Union of America, with 58 percent voting in favor, the union said on Wednesday, citing a National Mediation Board tally.

The decision ends the last non-union U.S. airline and marks the first union at Virgin America, based near San Francisco and started by entrepreneur Richard Branson.

Negotiations for a first contract will begin in the fall, the union said in a statement.

"As the airline grows and becomes an increasingly profitable and larger public company, we also want our members to be recognized for their contribution to the airline's success," TWU International President Harry Lombardo said.

The low-cost airline, which had 869 flight attendants as of March 31, filed for an initial public offering in the United States last month.(bit.ly/1zlq4Go)

"We respect the decision by our InFlight teammates to choose third-party representation," a spokeswoman for Virgin America told Reuters.

Branson owns a 22 percent stake in Virgin America through the London-based Virgin Group and a hedge fund.

Virgin America had 53 aircraft as of April 30 and is expected to take delivery of 10 Airbus A320s between July 2015 and June 2016.

(Reporting by Alwyn Scott; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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