A federal labor agency has requested the Department of Justice determine whether a major labor union submitted knowingly fraudulent signatures in a recent organizing drive at Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines.
Earlier this week the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) withdrew its application with the National Mediation Board to organize Delta’s 21,000 flight attendants because it said a number of the election authorization cards by workers were submitted with insufficient or inaccurate information.
But the National Mediation Board, which supervises labor organizing in the aviation and railway industries, said in a statement Thursday that “it had reason to believe that some unknown person or persons knowingly submitted authorization cards with fraudulent signatures in possible violation of federal law.”
Labor organizing campaigns have three distinct phases: a card check campaign, in which a union must demonstrate a showing of interest in collective bargaining by a simple majority of workers through the signing of authorization cards; certification of the cards by investigators at the National Mediation Board; and finally an election.
“The integrity of the NMB’s election process also relies on each individual employee only submitting an authorization card that he or she personally signed and dated for presentation to the NMB,” the Board’s general counsel, Mary Johnson, said in a Thursday email to Delta and IAM executives. “The NMB’s election process has not been respected in this case.
“In view of these circumstances, the Board has decided to refer the matter to the appropriate office of the United States Department of Justice for further review.”
The airline’s chief human resources officer in turn said it was encouraged that federal prosecutors had been tapped to clear up the matter and said the NMB’s concerns mirrored internal questions by some flight attendants when the union submitted the cards to the agency earlier this year.
“We are very encouraged that this matter has been referred to the DOJ,” Delta chief human resources office said in a statement emailed to Tipsheet. “At the time of the IAM filing in January, many flight attendants were raising questions regarding the validity of the authorization cards the IAM submitted to the NMB.”
See the NMB email and Delta’s response after the jump.
A driver for the ride-sharing service Uber was ticketed and had his vehicle impounded by Atlanta police after attempting to service an airport fare last month.
Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport requires that car services be permitted by state and airport authorities. Only those for-hire services specifically authorized by the airport may service travelers.
An employee for Atlanta NBC news affiliate WSB said he requested an Uber driver meet him on March 25 at the airport’s lower level, away from the designated taxicab stand, but was stopped by a police officer.
“The officer told him that ‘You’re not supposed to pick people up at the airport. I’m going to have to give you a ticket and impound your vehicle,'” the passenger, WSB’s Rich Thomas, said in a segment the station aired this week.
An Uber spokesman told the station that it hopes the General Assembly’s recent passage of ride-sharing legislation would provide a framework through which it could “engage Atlanta airport administrators in a constructive dialogue that paves the way for more consumer choice.”
The chairman of the U.S. Export-Import Bank will visit Atlanta, the hometown of the embattled agency’s fiercest corporate critic, for a series of small business-focused speeches Wednseday.
Bank president Fred Hochberg will join Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson for a tour of Opportunity Hub, an Atlanta startup nursery, and TOMCO2, a Loganville carbon dioxide systems manufacturer that received a taxpayer-backed ExIm loan last year for $236,000.
In both stops Hochberg is expected to stress ExIm’s utility to small business, part of a larger rebranding campaign the agency has undertaken as it again fights for congressional reauthorization.
But the bank’s critics, including Atlanta-based Delta Airlines, criticize the bank as a slush fund for the well-connected—primarily Boeing, which won $10.8 billion in long-term loan guarantees from ExIm last year.
By subsidizing loan and loan guarantees for foreign air carriers who buy Boeing’s planes, US-based airlines, of which Delta is the loudest, say the government is harming the domestic airline industry while giving a leg-up to oversees competitors by reducing borrowing costs courtesy of the American taxpayer. (By one industry estimate, ExIm’s lending policies have eliminated 7,500 US airline jobs.)
Even as Delta lost a court battle last week against the agency, whose operating charter will expire June 30 if not reauthorized, the company says the real battleground isn’t the courts but Congress.
“We pursued all our options in court, but we’ve known all along this is going to be won or lost in Congress,” Delta spokesperson Trebor Banstetter told the New York Times Tuesday.
On that count, Delta has the support of most of the state’s congressional Republican lawmakers. Last year, all of the state’s nine (now ten) Republican congressmen voted to allow the agency’s charter to expire, but both senators wanted instead to see it reformed.
An aerospace union has temporarily withdrawn its application with federal labor regulators to organize Delta flight attendants.
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) said in a statement Tuesday that it would delay an unionization vote of workers for the Atlanta-based carrier’s flight attendants because it believed a number of authorization cards were submitted with insufficient or inaccurate information.
“We thought it best to take the course of action to withdraw and go back and renew the campaign,” a union spokesman told Bloomberg News. “This campaign is not over by any means.”
Labor organizing campaigns have three phases: a card campaign, in which at least 50 percent of a company’s workers must demonstrate a showing of interest in collective bargaining by signing authorization cards; certification by federal labor investigators at the National Mediation Board; and finally an election.
The IAM petitioned the NMB in January for an election, telling authorities it had collected authorization cards from roughly 60 percent of Delta’s 20,000 flight attendants. But Tuesday’s announcement means union officials worried nearly half of those cards would not stand up to review by NMB investigators.
By withdrawing the application, the union has given itself an additional twelve months to cross the 35-percent support threshold.
Delta, which is the least-unionized carrier in the country, has not yet issued a public statement, but in a notice to employees Tuesday the company said the union’s withdrawal “appear[ed] to validate the many concerns raised by many of you when the IAM filed for the election” earlier this year.