46 NMB No. 13
November 18, 1998
Mr. R. Thomas Buffenbarger, Int'l President
International Association of Machinists &
Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO
9000 Machinists Place
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772-2687
Mr. O. V. Delle-Femine, National Director
Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association
67 Water Street, Suite #208
Laconia, NH 03246
Mr. P. Douglas McKeen
Vice President, Labor Relations Ground
Northwest Airlines, Inc.
5101 Northwest Drive, A1170
St. Paul, MN 55111-3034
Re: NMB Case No. R-6621
Northwest Airlines, Inc.
This determination addresses the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers', AFL-CIO (IAM), October 30, 1998, appeal of Mediator Faye Marie Landers-Crawford's eligibility ruling. The applicant, the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA), filed a response on November 6, 1998. For reasons set forth below, the Mediator's determination is upheld.
On July 22, 1998, AMFA filed an application alleging a representation dispute pursuant to Section 2, Ninth, of the Railway Labor Act, 45 U.S.C. § 152, Ninth, among Mechanics and Related Employees of Northwest Airlines, Inc. (Northwest). The application was docketed as NMB Case No. R-6621. These employees are currently represented by the IAM.
On August 13, 1998, the Board found a dispute to exist and authorized an election. Ballots were mailed on October 16, 1998. The count is scheduled for November 20, 1998.
On September 8, 1998, AMFA and the IAM filed with the Mediator challenges to the list of eligible voters. Along with other challenges, AMFA alleged that all individuals classified as Equipment Service Employees (ESE's) are ineligible. AMFA based its challenge on Northwest Airlines, 14 NMB 76 (1986), in which the Board concluded that ESE's were not properly part of the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class but were properly part of the Office Clerical, Fleet and Passenger Service craft or class.
In its challenge, the IAM contended that twenty-two individuals classified as ESE's were eligible. The IAM asserted that these twenty-two individuals "spend the preponderance of their time cleaning aircraft." In support of its contention, the IAM submitted statements from fourteen employees and a statement from an IAM General Chair listing the names of the remaining eight employees. According to the General Chair's statement, the assertions were "based on my own observations confirmed by my station visits and conversation."
Northwest responded to the challenges on September 25, 1998. The Carrier stated that the individuals challenged by the IAM were "actively working" as ESE's. In reference to the individuals challenged by AMFA, the Carrier stated that the ESE "works a preponderance of the time in the Mechanic and Related craft or class." Neither the labor organizations nor the Carrier provided the Mediator with any other evidence.
The Mediator issued her rulings on October 23, 1998. The Mediator ruled ESE's ineligible "since they are not working within the craft or class of Mechanics and Related as ruled previously by the NMB." The Mediator set a deadline of October 30, 1998, for any appeal of her rulings. The IAM, on October 30, 1998, appealed the Mediator's ruling that employees classified as ESE's were ineligible. AMFA responded to the appeal on November 6, 1998. Northwest filed no response.
In the appeal, the IAM argues that ESE's who work a preponderance of the time in the Mechanics and Related craft or class should be deemed eligible. Alternatively, the IAM submits that a preponderance check should be conducted with respect to these employees.
AMFA asserts that the Mediator's ruling is consistent with prior NMB determinations. AMFA requests that the Board, based on agency precedent, affirm the Mediator's determination finding Carrier employees within the ESE classification to be ineligible.
Section 5.1 of the NMB Representation Manual states that "prior decisions of the Board in regard to craft or class on the same carrier shall be binding upon the Mediator."
In Northwest Airlines, Inc., supra, the Board found that "although ESEs perform some duties which are traditionally performed by members of the Mechanics and Related craft or class, the primary responsibilities of ESEs [were] fleet service in nature." This finding was made after an extensive investigation which included an evidentiary hearing.
In Northwest Airlines, Inc., 18 NMB 357 (1991), the Board upheld the Mediator's determination that ESE's were ineligible to vote in an election among the Mechanics and Related Employees at Northwest. The NMB stated "in order to persuade the Board that 'Cleaner/ESEs' do not share a work-related community of interest with the rest of the ESEs, who are fleet service employees, but with employees in the Mechanics and Related craft or class, the Board must be presented with substantive and compelling evidence, particularly considering the historical background of this issue." In that case, the labor organization submitted a statement from a general chairman and statements from several ESE's in support of its contention that ESE's were eligible. The Board concluded that no "sufficient evidence" was submitted.
As the Board recently stated in Midway Airlines, 18 NMB 193 (1991), "in Board representation cases, the burden of proof required to persuade the Board to overrule the mediator's preliminary determination rests with the carrier or organization appealing that determination."
In the present case, the Mediator's eligibility determination was in accordance with Section 5.1 of the Representation Manual. Review of the record establishes that the IAM has not presented sufficient evidence to warrant reversal of the Mediator's determination. The decision is upheld.
For the above reasons, the IAM's appeal is denied. The ESE's are ineligible to vote in the
election among Mechanics and Related Employees. The count will take place on November 20, 1998, as scheduled.
By direction of the NATIONAL MEDIATION BOARD.
Stephen E. Crable
Chief of Staff
Joseph Guerrieri, Jr., Esq.
Lee R.A. Seham, Esq.
Joseph L. Manson, III, Esq.