* Union files formal charges over election
* Delta says allegations have no merit (Adds Delta statement details, background)
ATLANTA, Dec 8 (Reuters) - The machinists union said on Wednesday it filed formal interference charges against Delta Air Lines Inc DAL.N and is seeking a new organizing election for the carrier's 13,000 cargo and ramp workers.
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers said Delta engaged in tactics such as intimidation designed to steer baggage handlers away from backing labor in the election that ended with the union’s defeat on Nov. 18.
“Delta created an atmosphere of such widespread surveillance, coercion and intimidation that a fair election was impossible,” said IAM General Vice President Robert Roach. “The scope and sophistication of their campaign to rig the outcome of this election sets new standards in the annals of election interference.”
The union said it filed the protest with the National Mediation Board and has requested a rerun election for the baggage handlers.
Of 10,593 valid votes counted from the 13,104 eligible cargo and ramp workers in the contested election, 5,569 voted for no union, while 5,024 supported unionizing, according to the NMB.
In a statement, Delta said the union allegations have no merit.
“Even after yesterday’s landslide election in which the IAM was rejected for a fourth time, they have only the union’s own interest in mind, ignoring the will of the employees and delaying our employees’ ability to benefit from one set of pay, benefits, work rules and seniority list,” the carrier’s statement added.
Delta said it would submit a response to the NMB once it reviews the machinists union’s charges.
The baggage handler election was one of four union votes that took place at Delta this fall to resolve labor issues following the 2008 purchase of Northwest. Unions lost all those elections, including one that ended this week in which the machinists were seeking to represent ticket and gate agents.
Delta is the least unionized of major U.S. carriers, but it incorporated thousands of union workers when it acquired Northwest.
The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA also filed formal interference claims last month, alleging Delta used coercive methods to influence an election that ended on Nov. 3 in which the carrier’s 20,000 flight attendants rejected union membership.
Reporting by Karen Jacobs; editing by Andre Grenon
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