Continental Airline Workers Turning to IAM

While airline investors and executives envision the profits and cost savings they expect to reap from the United-Continental merger, ground employees at Continental are turning to the IAM as the best way to protect their interests as the merger goes forward. In the last month, more than 300 workers in three separate classifications at Continental have either won IAM representation or will soon have the opportunity to vote in union elections.

The ink was barely dry on the United-Continental merger agreement when Continental Customer Service agents in Toronto held an election under Canadian law and voted overwhelmingly for IAM representation. Job security was the driving issue behind the win, according to District 78 Business Representative Scott Jackson. “Another factor was the knowledge that unionized airline Customer Service Agents earn considerably more than their non-union counterparts,” said Jackson.

Within days of the Customer Service election win in Canada, the National Mediation Board (NMB) announced the near-unanimous election results for the Ground Instructor classification at Continental. The 22 Ground Instructors at Continental now join their counterparts at United Airlines with IAM representation.

On tap in the United States is an election for more than 230 Stock & Stores employees at Continental, who are seeking to join forces with IAM-represented Stores employees at United Airlines. That election will run from November 23 to December 21, 2010.

“There can be no standing still in the wake of a merger that just created the world’s largest airline,” said Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr. “The employees at both Continental and United have a responsibility and an opportunity to protect themselves and to ensure they share in the success of this extraordinary enterprise. The IAM is looking forward to providing employees with the resources and the expertise to craft contracts that can protect their jobs, their benefits and their retirements.”