United Airlines mechanics pick AMFA over IAM in rep vote

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Mon Jul 14 19:35:52 MDT 2003

This is a significant and controversial development in the unions.
The mechanics at United Airlines, following in the footsteps of those
at Northwest, have voted to make the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal
Association their union.

The vote is a major blow to the officialdom of the International
Association of Machinists. The union, which formerly represented the
mechanics and other workers at both airlines, has been greatly
weakened by years of escalating concessions.

AMFA is a small but growing craft union, with a quite conservative
history.  As this news release indicates, the basic outlook of the
core of the officialdom isn't that much different from that of the
leaders of other craft unions or the IAM.

But from the little I know, having no direct experience at all in the
airline industry although I was active in supporting the Eastern
Airlines strike back in 1989-90, the main thing pushing the mechanics
toward AMFA was not craft prejudices or political conservatism, but
the desire to find a way to carry out an organized union fight against
the concession demands that continue to multiply.

To garner support, the top AMFA officials have promised mechanics --
accustomed like other airline workers to closed door negotiations
followed by agreements that are pushed through by union officials who
make it clear they are not up for any kind of fight at all -- that
they would allow rank and file union participation and observation of
the negotiation process.  They apparently kept that promise at
Northwest, where  a contract was won that was above the disastrous
standard being set by the IAM leaders.

The main issue in the representation fight, I believe based on what I
have been able to find out, was not craft vs. industrial unionism but
fighting concessions (as the mechanics hope and desire) versus turning
the acceptance and enforcement of more and more concessions into the
basic policy and role of the union. One indication was significant
sympathy among non-mechanics for the mechanics' effort to obtain union
representation with more room for their input.

I hope others with more information than I do about this development
will comment.
Fred Feldman

O. V. Delle-Femine, AMFA National Director
Terry Harvey, Assistant National Director
Jim Young, Region II Director
United Airlines Employees Win
Election for AMFA Representation
Laconia,  July 14, 2003

The National Mediation Board (NMB) has declared the Aircraft Mechanics
Fraternal Association (AMFA) as the winner of a representationelection
recognizing them as the bargaining agent for the Mechanics and Related
employees at Elk Grove Illinois, based United Airlines.
AMFA received 5234 votes of the 8239 votes cast by the 13144 employees
eligible to vote in today's representation election. This is the third
time in the
last 10 years that the United Airlines mechanics and related employees
have campaigned for a change in representation.

"We are pleased that the Mechanics and Related employees at United
Airlines have
selected AMFA to represent them. The AMFA supporters have worked hard
achieve this success, and they should be proud of their efforts," said
O. V.
Delle-Femine, AMFA National Director. He continued, "We look forward
to developing a positive
relationship with United Airlines officials, one that will benefit
both the company and our new

This victory for the United employees comes on the heels of the
Airlines January 24th change in representation from the International
Brotherhood of
Teamsters to AMFA. With this addition to its membership AMFA now
represents approximately
20,000 mechanics and related employees at eight carriers.

According to Mr. Delle-Femine AMFA now represents more members of the
mechanics and related class and craft employed in the airline industry
than any other
union. "This victory is part of a trend in the industry. Our craft is
coming together to protect our own interests rather than remain small
voices in the large industrial unions run by members whose interests
are much different than ours."

AMFA is an independent craft union not affiliated with the AFL-CIO.
represents aircraft technicians and related personnel employed at
Alaska Airlines, ATA
(formerly American Trans Air), Atlantic Coast Airlines, Horizon Air,
Mesaba Airlines, Northwest
Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines.

AMFA's credo is "Safety in the air begins with quality maintenance on
the ground."

To learn more about AMFA, visit their website at www.amfanatl.org.

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