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Second Union Sues Delta Over Seniority

Posted in Airline News, Delta AirNo comments

As Delta Air Lines moves swiftly to merge Northwest Airlines into its operations, a second Northwest labor union has sued Delta over accusations that the carrier is trying to run roughshod over its legal rights.

The Northwest ground workers union sued Delta Monday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., contending that Delta is violating federal law through its efforts to integrate the seniority lists of the unionized Northwest workers and nonunion Delta employees.

Meanwhile, a three-person arbitration panel was expected to release a decision Monday night that integrates the seniority lists of the Delta and Northwest pilots. Both pilot groups are represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, but they were unable to reach a negotiated agreement on the thorny seniority issue.

Employees involved in the merger are deeply concerned about their seniority designations, because the blended lists will affect workers’ pay and career paths.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), which represents Northwest ground workers, recently rejected Delta’s offer to meet with Delta workers to discuss a process for blending their seniority lists.

The IAM said in its lawsuit that Delta must wait until the National Mediation Board has declared that a “single carrier” exists and a union representational election is held. The lawsuit is aimed at preventing Delta from bypassing “proper procedures” under federal law “in order to derail a free and fair election to determine who will represent the employees of both Northwest and Delta,” said Stephen Gordon, a top IAM official, in a Monday bulletin to his 12,500 Northwest members.

The IAM lawsuit was filed several days after the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) sued Delta over similar complaints involving the Northwest flight attendants. The Delta ground workers and attendants are nonunion employees and their work groups are much larger than Northwest’s.

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