By an overwhelming margin, nearly 8,000 fleet service workers at Continental Airlines at airports across the country have voted to join the Teamsters, Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa announced Friday. See photos of CAL workers celebrating our victory.
“This is a great day for the Teamsters and for the fleet service workers at Continental,” Hoffa said. “For far too long, Continental’s fleet service workers have gone without union representation, and that is now over. We will work with the fleet service workers to help them build a strong union and we will negotiate a solid contract, just like we have done for the Teamster-represented mechanics at Continental.”
The National Mediation Board announced the election results Friday. The workers won despite the anti-worker, anti-union campaign waged by Houston-based Continental Airlines [NYSE: CAL].
“The excitement among my co-workers is very high because we know that we will have a strong contract that will give us job security and bring fairness to our jobs,” said Jose Ramirez, a worker in Houston. “It feels great to be a Teamster.”
“This is historic news for Continental workers in Newark and at stations across the country,” said Christian Cepeda, a fleet service worker in Newark. “We have tried five times to form a union in the past, but with the help of the Teamsters we have succeeded. We intend to work hard to make our jobs better for ourselves and for our families.”
“It took the ‘Teamster Difference’ to make a difference—the ability to push us over the top,” said Mark Cline, a 17-year employee in Cleveland. “I’m still in shock at being a Teamster. This election proves that the Teamsters are the strongest and best union in the airline industry.”
A company official said Continental respects the workers’ decision.
“We respect the choice our co-workers have made,” said Mike Bonds, Continental’s senior vice president for human resources and labor relations. “Regardless of whether co-workers are union or non-union, we’re focused on achieving and maintaining profitability and preserving our long-standing culture of working together.”
The fleet service workers handle baggage and cargo, and they perform other essential jobs, including directing jets to the terminal gates. The fleet service workers sought Teamster representation because they saw how the 3,600 Teamster-represented mechanics’ lives have improved greatly over the past 12 years with strong contracts.
The Railway Labor Act election was administered by the National Mediation Board. For the victory to occur, 50 percent plus one of all the workers in the unit needed to vote for the Teamsters. The threshold was exceeded with 4,129 votes for union representation. These numbers are truly overwhelming given traditionally 10-15 percent of eligible voters do not vote in elections that fall under the Railway Labor Act.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.
For more information about the campaign and the bargaining unit, please visit www.calfleetserviceteamsters.com.