14 August 2014 – The ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) congress in Sofia, Bulgaria, is celebrating the decision by around 900 flight attendants at Virgin America to be represented by a union.
The National Mediation Board (NMB) in the United States yesterday announced that flight attendants at Virgin America have voted in favor of union representation.
Of the roughly 830 flight attendants who were eligible to vote, around 430 (58 per cent of them) voted ‘yes’.
Transport Workers Union of America international vice president Thom McDaniel said it was a good win for organised labour.
“One of the important things about this election is that Virgin America was the last completely non-union major airline in the United States, ” McDaniel said.
“We’re especially proud that it was a flight attendant group because I think it shows they can have tremendous power in the workplace and they have such a big impact on the operation with their customer contact.
“And we’re especially proud, of course, that it was TWU and we’re an ITF affiliate.”
This was the second vote for Virgin America flight attendants, having voted down a similar proposal in September 2011.
“The company made a lot of promises during that election and many of them they didn’t keep, ” McDaniel said.
“The Virgin America flight attendants came to us about a year ago and felt that they needed a union and they worked very hard to get one this time.
“The Virgin America flight attendants wanted to speak as a whole with one voice and have power in bargaining and they are now going to have that through the TWU.”
ITF civil aviation section secretary Gabriel Mocho said the ITF had provided support to the workers’ campaign to have union representation.
“We reported on this at the ITF cabin crew meeting in London earlier this year and the ITF issued a resolution of support, ” Mr Mocho said.
“That resolution was sent out to the Virgin America flight attendants just to show them that they have worldwide support from flight attendants in every single country in the world and that they can accomplish great things with representation and a strong union.”
ITF president Paddy Crumlin said: “Flight attendants across the world are looking for a positive and professional voice in the workplace – fair work rules, fair compensation, due process when they are disciplined.
“The company ran a very anti-union campaign and the ITF is very pleased with the result of the vote.”
The 43rd ITF Congress in Sofia brings together almost 2, 000 participants from 379 unions in 116 countries.