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August 27, 2015

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Allegiant flight attendants vote to unionize

Beyond the Sun

Flight attendants at Allegiant Air have voted to be represented by the Transport Workers Union.

It’s the first worker group of the airline, a subsidiary of Las Vegas-based Allegiant Travel Co., to seek union representation.

A union representation vote of Allegiant flight attendants to affiliate with the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA failed in December 2006.

The National Mediation Board conducted the election and tabulated the votes today. Telephone and online voting ran from Nov. 30 through today.

The final vote count was 220 for and 137 against TWU representation. It was the first flight attendant union vote under new rules to approve representation with a simple majority although TWU officials said they believe they would have won even with the old rules under which an employee’s lack of participation was counted as a “no” vote. The employee group has about 420 flight attendants based across the country.

“Allegiant respects the right of the flight attendant group to elect third-party representation and we will work with the TWU to the best interests of both our employees and the company,” Maurice Gallagher, Allegiant CEO and chairman, said in a statement issued after receiving the results from the NMB. “Contract negotiations can be a lengthy process and we do not anticipate any disruptions to our business or operations.”

“This is great news,” said Karen McKenna, a Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air flight attendant said in a statement released by the union. “We showed each other that when we stick together, we can make a difference.”

Allegiant’s group will join more than 9,400 Southwest Airlines flight attendant union members who affiliated through TWU Local 556. The Southwest union is expected to grow significantly when Southwest completes its acquisition of AirTran next year.

The TWU, which is affiliated with the AFL-CIO and has 200,000 workers and retirees in commercial aviation, public transportation and passenger railroads, also has union organizing campaigns under way at Virgin America Airlines and JetBlue Airways.

James Little, TWU’s international president, said Allegiant management “ran a very aggressive ‘vote no’ campaign, which is typical of most employers.”

An Allegiant spokeswoman said Allegiant management “was vocal in that they believe the flight attendant group is better off keeping a direct relationship instead of seeking third-party representation. This was communicated to the work group throughout the voting period,” she said.

A second much-smaller employee group is also scheduled for a union representation vote at Allegiant.

The airline said flight dispatchers would begin voting for TWU representation with voting beginning Dec. 30 and concluding Jan. 24. Allegiant has about 13 flight dispatchers, which are certified by the Federal Aviation Administration and serve as a pilot’s eyes and ears on the ground. They plan and monitor all flights and keep crews apprised of changes in weather, navigational aids or airport conditions while a plane is in the air.

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