Virgin America (San Francisco) flight attendants have voted to represented by the TWU. The TWU issued this statement:
A majority of flight attendants at Virgin America has voted in favor of union representation by the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU), the federal National Mediation Board reported today. This is the first work group at the airline to vote for a union. TWU received 430 votes, 58 percent of those voting, compared with 307 who voted against forming a union. The election was conducted between July 16 and August 13 by telephone and Internet and 828 Inflight Team Members (ITMs) were eligible to vote.
“We’re excited about what this election means for Inflight Team Members,” said Adam Croteau, a Los Angeles-based ITM, a term the airline uses to describe its flight attendants. “We ran a very positive campaign and we believe that we can make positive changes at the airline by giving flight attendants a voice.”
Many ITMs at Virgin America were drawn to the Transport Workers Union because of TWU’s success in bargaining contracts for 11,000 flight attendants at Southwest Airlines.
“Part of Southwest Airline’s success is due to the airline’s flight attendants, all of whom are TWU members. Having a union behind them gives Southwest flight attendants the comfort and freedom to do their jobs well,” said Armando Fierros, a Los Angeles-based ITM. “TWU also fosters autonomy for its local unions, unlike some labor organizations. We want to run our own union and create a union culture that is uniquely suited to meet the needs of ITMs employed at this award-winning airline.”
“Virgin America bills itself as an ‘upscale’ airline and prides itself on that service that ‘team members’ offer,” said TWU’s International Executive Vice President John Samuelsen, who attended the vote count at the National Mediation Board in Washington, DC with a group of Virgin flight attendants, “With this vote, flight attendants will have a say on how to further improve Virgin along with their own work lives. This is a chance to make the airline better for both customers and workers.”
In July, the privately held company filed for an initial public offering with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Only yesterday, Virgin America Inc. reported that its second-quarter profit and revenue increased, largely due to the airline filling more seats.
“We want to see Virgin America prosper,” said TWU International President Harry Lombardo. “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. We will now focus on gaining a contract that’s fair for our new members.”
Negotiations for a first contract will begin in the fall.
Copyright Photo: Brian McDonough/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A319-112 N525VA (msn 3324) approaches the runway at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD).