Former PFAA Chief Alleges Improprieties
It took three tries and two unions
before flight attendants at Northwest Airlines narrowly approved a
new contract with the formerly bankrupt carrier... so why would
anyone think things would get any easier now? Substantial payouts
for the airline's 8,100 FA's are currently on hold, as their union
investigates charges of voter fraud.
As ANN reported, members of
the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA voted May 29 to approve a
third tentative agreement between the union and airline management.
The contract was narrowly passed, with a mere 104 votes separating
the yeas from the nays.
In exchange for pay cuts and other concessions under the
contract, flight attendants were granted a one-time payment of
approximately $15,000 per person, after attendants sold their claim
against Northwest. That money was to be paid to the attendants by
June 18... but allegations of miscounted votes has thrown a wrench
into those plans.
The Associated Press reports problems first popped up during the
final day of voting, as some flight attendants who hadn't paid
their dues cast votes anyway, despite being ineligible to do so.
Other attendants in good standing with the union flooded
switchboards to confirm their votes would, in fact, count... which
prompted the AFA-CWA to extend the voting deadline by two
The union -- in place at Northwest for less than one year, after
flight attendants ousted the Professional Flight Attendants
Association following the rejection of the first TA in June 2006 --
says it ultimately disqualified 484 ballots. A recount arrived at
the same number, according to a statement posted on the union's
Perhaps not entirely by surprise, complaints about voting
procedures come from the flight attendant who ran the PFAA at
Northwest before it was voted out last year. In a June 5 letter to
AFA leaders, Guy Meek said some members were not allowed to vote,
or weren't given information on how to cast ballots.
"I believe that AFA should rerun the contract ratification vote
on (the tentative pact) because of all the improprieties that
occurred during the voting process," Meek wrote. The AP adds Meeks
also threatened to "pursue other available avenues" if the issue
wasn't promptly resolved by the AFA.
In response to Meek's concerns, AFA general council David Borer
says the union has asked Meek to provide evidence of his
allegations by June 22.
"So far it's just a bunch of broad allegations and no evidence
whatsoever," he said, adding the union decided to withhold payment
of the claim in case the matter does come to a re-vote, although
that remains a distant possibility.
"The amounts of money involved are so large, and it's so
difficult to unscramble the egg after the fact, we figured even if
there's the remotest chance that the election would have to be
rerun we would err on the side of caution here and hold up the
money," Borer said.