A revealing union representation election is currently underway. Both the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) and the Association of Flight Attendants-Communications Workers of America (AFA-CWA) want to represent the 20,000 to 25,000 flight attendants in the newly merged United and Continental Airlines workforces.
The AFA-CWA wants the privilege so badly it has adopted one of the oldest intimidation strategies in the books: The union instructed flight attendants to call a phone number to register their votes with the AFA-CWA.
The IAM wants the privilege so badly it has shamelessly accused the AFA-CWA of a “flagrant form of intimidation.” From where I sit, the AFA-CWA’s “call and tell us your vote” strategy ought to have been OK with the card-check-supporting and secret-ballot-opposing IAM (although, just to be clear, it’s not OK to me).
But, no — dues are on the line. So, the general vice president of IAM, Robert Roach, Jr., sent a letter to Veda Shook, president of AFA-CWA, to complain. The letter states:
AFA-CWA has instructed Flight Attendants to call a phone number “to register your vote with AFA,” after they have voted in the United/Continental/Continental Micronesia representation election. How a Flight Attendant votes is a personal choice, and directing someone to reveal how they voted is a flagrant form of intimidation. Flight Attendants have already begun to register such complaints to the NMB.
Intimidating employees not to vote is a tactic used by management, not one used by a group that is supposed to fight for workers’ rights. Flight Attendants are guaranteed by law that their votes are confidential. They should only reveal how or if they voted if they freely choose to do so.
I couldn’t agree more, but, as Bryan Preston at the PJ Tatler points out, this is particularly rich coming from the IAM, which is presently engaged in a legal battle aimed to destroy secret ballot elections. Perhaps even more importantly, both the IAM and AFA-CWA are AFL-CIO affiliates — so the United representation election couldn’t exactly be free or fair in the first place. Preston captures the irony memorably:
That this comes hot on the heels of the unions waging a massive campaign of intimidation in Wisconsin pegs the Irony Alert needle. That this comes hot on the heels of a national union campaign to push card check, which is legalized union intimidation to force workers into unions whether they want to join or not, buries the Irony Alert needle. And that IAM is the same union which is currently the instrument of the union-dominated National Labor Relations Board’s unprecedented attack on Boeing in South Carolina just snaps the Irony Alert needle in two. The irony itself is flowing so deep that I can’t even see the bottom. An AFL-CIO union…wants another AFL-CIO union…to stop intimidating people. To maintain the appearance of a free and fair election.
Talk about flagrant. This is blatant hypocrisy on the part of IAM or I don’t know what is.