In the Matter of the
Application of the
AIRCRAFT MECHANICS FRATERNAL ASSOCIATION
alleging a representation dispute pursuant to Section 2, Ninth, of the Railway Labor Act, as amended
involving employees of
26 NMB No. 48
CASE NO. R-6670
(File No. CR-6651)
This decision addresses the application filed by the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA or Organization), alleging a representation dispute among Maintenance Controllers, employees of Mesaba Airlines (Mesaba). AMFA is the certified representative of the craft or class of Mechanics and Related Employees on Mesaba (R-6440) and the Organization asserts that Maintenance Controllers are part of that craft or class.
For the reasons set forth below, the Board finds that the employees at issue are already covered by its certification in R-6440, and, therefore, dismisses the application.
On February 24, 1999, AMFA filed an application pursuant to the Railway Labor Act (RLA) 45 U.S.C. § 152, Ninth, covering Maintenance Controllers of Mesaba. This matter was assigned NMB File No. CR-6651. The Organization takes the position that these individuals are covered by AMFAs certification as the representative of Mesabas Mechanics and Related Employees in R-6440. See 23 NMB 248 (1996).
According to AMFA, in collective bargaining negotiations the Carrier has asserted that Maintenance Controllers are management officials.
On March 5, 1999, Mesaba submitted a position statement asserting that the Carrier does not employ Maintenance Controllers but employs Maintenance Supervisors who are management officials excluded from the certified Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class. AMFA filed a response on March 12, 1999. The participants filed additional submissions on March 29, 1999 (Mesaba) and April 6, 1999 (AMFA).
The issue in this matter is whether Maintenance Supervisors are employees or subordinate officials within the meaning of the RLA.
AMFA asserts that virtually nothing other than the job title has changed since the assigned Mediator determined that Mesabas Maintenance Controllers were part of the craft or class of Mechanics and Related Employees in R-6440. According to the Organization, the Mediator previously rejected arguments in that case which are similar to those the Carrier is making here. AMFA also cites the fact that Maintenance Supervisors in the Maintenance Department are referred to as Maintenance Controllers as further evidence that the individuals in question are part of the craft or class. AMFA cites the Boards decisions in Aerovias de Mexico, 20 NMB 584 (1993) and Federal Express Corporation, 20 NMB 360 (1993), in support of its position.
Mesaba takes the position that Maintenance Supervisors are management officials and, therefore, are not covered by AMFAs certification. According to the Carrier, Maintenance Supervisors impose discipline, conduct employee performance reviews, establish and oversee assignments, and commit Carrier funds for parts purchases. Mesaba asserts that in American Airlines, Inc., 24 NMB 521 (1997), the Board found Maintenance Supervisors to be management officials, and that [t]here is a striking resemblance between the individuals at issue in American and the ones in this case.
FINDINGS OF LAW
Determination of the issues in this case is governed by the RLA, as amended, 45 U.S.C. §§ 151-188. Accordingly, the Board finds as follows:
Mesaba is a common carrier by air as defined in 45 U.S.C. § 181 of the RLA.
AMFA is a labor organization and/or representative as provided by 45 U.S.C. § 152, Ninth of the RLA.
45 U.S.C. § 152, Fourth, gives employees subject to its provisions . . . the right to organize and bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing. The majority of the craft or class of employees shall have the right to determine who shall be the representative of the craft or class for purposes of this chapter.
45 U.S.C. § 152, Ninth, provides that the Board has the duty to investigate representation disputes and shall designate who may participate as eligible voters in the event an election is required.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
In her ruling on the eligibility of Mesabas Maintenance Controllers in R-6440, dated June 28, 1996, Mediator Faye Marie Landers-Crawford noted:
|The carrier asserts that Maintenance Controllers authorize overtime and have responsibility for supervision of line mechanics, including issuing and transferring work assignments.|
The Mediator ruled that the Carrier had not established that the Maintenance Controllers exercised a greater degree of authority than that generally exercised by subordinate officials.
AMFA has submitted declarations from three of the individuals at issue. According to these individuals, there has been no change in job functions since 1996. The individuals further assert the only change which has occurred is that they are paid on a salaried rather than hourly basis. In their declarations they also state that they do not engage in:
|a) direct supervision of maintenance activities;|
|b) consulting with management on proposed changes to Mesabas Maintenance Operations Manual;|
|c) counseling employees on performance issues;|
|d) implementing of disciplinary action of any kind;|
|e) investigating incidents;|
|f) attending management training seminars; or|
|g) conducting on-the-job training other than for newly hired controllers/supervisors.|
All of these functions listed above are contained in the position description for Maintenance Supervisors.
In addition to providing a position description, the Carrier has submitted declarations from two of the Maintenance Supervisors, both of whom were hired subsequent to the election in 1996. They assert that when they were hired, they were informed that this was a management position. One of these individuals states his responsibilities are as described in the position description. The second individual states that he has had occasion to direct the activities of mechanics and the job routinely entails decision making as to expenditures of company funds, use of overtime, aircraft swaps and other overall management decisions.
Mesaba has also provided declarations from two management officials, Scott Bussell, Managing Director of Maintenance, and Roger Lien, Manager of Maintenance Control from March 1995 - August 1998. According to Bussell, the Maintenance Supervisors play an integral role in the supervision of the rank and file personnel . . . in Minneapolis, . . . Detroit . . . and . . . Memphis. Bussell states further that the Supervisors assigned to Maintenance Control on second and third shift are the sole management representatives with oversight of maintenance operations . . . in Mosinee, WI; Rhinelander, WI; Cincinnati, OH; and Memphis, TN. Bussell asserts that:
|Maintenance Supervisors working in Maintenance Control, as is with any of our Maintenance Supervisors, have a part in the process of disciplinary action. Whether they have had occasion to exercise this responsibility or not, does not diminish the fact that it is part of their responsibility and duties.|
According to Bussell, Maintenance Control Supervisors also supervise contract maintenance personnel. Bussell also states that despite the fact that the three individuals who submitted declarations on behalf of AMFAs position claim to have never exercised [certain] responsibility is not to say they have not been given the authority and responsibility to do so.
Bussell additionally testifies that Maintenance Control Supervisors can commit carrier funds for purchase of aircraft parts, can direct Base Managers/Supervisors to send personnel on Field Service Trips and the claim that some . . . individuals . . . have not exercised [this] authority . . . does not diminish their obligation and ability to do so.
Attached to Bussells declaration is a 1996 memo he sent outlining proposed changes to the Maintenance Controller position.
The changes discussed in the memo include adding two positions, in order to operate Maintenance Control around the clock, and changing the pay from an hourly to salaried basis. Under the heading Pay Scale Bussell wrote: Current pay . . . based on equivalent mechanics pay plus a $1.00 premium and overtime, is $44,000 to $35,000. . . . I propose to set the pay range from $35,000 to $41,000, not including bonuses.
Lien states that in November 1997, Mesaba restructured the Maintenance Controller positions as management positions. According to Lien, the position was posted for bidding. During the interview process, Lien informed the individuals about their supervisory responsibilities, which included:
|Take ownership and control of situations and problems . . . . work with the floor supervisors and over-ride their decisions if needed . . . and to carry items up to the higher level of management if needed.|
|Work as a floor supervisor . . . on an as needed basis.|
|Oversee work completed in all cities on Mesaba aircraft and redirect personnel as required.|
|Counsel employees under their supervision by reporting issues to the administrative supervisor for that employee, including involvement in grievance procedures when required.|
|Authorize On-Call maintenance and charters up to $1,000.|
|Approve parts for AOG conditions up to Maintenance Control Manager Limit (approx. $5,000)|
A September 23, 1997, posting for the position of Maintenance Supervisor advertised the Qualifications for the position as follows:
|1. Must hold a current FAA Airframe and Powerplant Certificate.|
|2. Must have at least 6 months experience in Mesabas Maintenance Department or comparable maintenance experience gained elsewhere.|
|3. Be familiar with all aspects of the Mesaba Airlines Maintenance Manuals.|
|4. Prefer experience with Dowty and Ham standard to support Saab fleet and Dash8.|
Maintenance Supervisors on Mesaba report to the Manager of Maintenance.
Section 5.312 of the Boards Representation Manual provides:
|If an individual is determined to be a management official, the individual is ineligible. The Investigator shall consider, in the investigation, whether the involved individual has the authority to discharge and/or discipline employees or to effectively recommend the same; the extent of supervisory authority; the ability to authorize and grant overtime; the authority to transfer and/or establish assignments; the authority to create carrier policy; the authority and the extent to which carrier funds may be committed; whether the authority exercising is circumscribed by operating and policy manuals; the placement of the individual in the organizational hierarchy of the carrier; and, any other relevant factors regarding the individuals duties and responsibilities.|
When the Board applies these criteria, the Board must consider various individual elements and factors which might not be decisive if considered separately, but considered cumulatively would remove a particular position from the status of an employee or subordinate official. Pan American World Airways, Inc., 5 NMB 112, 115 (1973). See, also USAir, 24 NMB 38 (1996); Comair, Inc., 22 NMB 175 (1995); American International Airways, Inc., d/b/a Connie Kalitta Services, 20 NMB 94 (1992); Challenge Air Cargo, 17 NMB 501 (1990); USAir, 17 NMB 117 (1990); and Tower Air, Inc., 16 NMB 338 (1989). In many cases, the Board finds that while there are certain factors indicating some level of authority, when the factors are viewed cumulatively the individuals at issue generally are supervisors, not management officials.
In American Airlines, 24 NMB 521 (1997), cited by the Carrier, the Board applied the standards cited above in determining that Americans Maintenance Supervisors were management officials. The Board found that Americans Maintenance Supervisors were entrusted with substantial supervisory authority. They directed and assigned work through a Crew Chief, had the authority to discipline employees, and in fact, regularly exercised such authority. In addition the record established that Americans Maintenance Supervisors played a key role in the investigation of incidents which might lead to discipline, and were involved in the hiring process, possessing the authority to effectively recommend hiring decisions. Other factors which the Board considered persuasive included the fact that the Maintenance Supervisors evaluated the Crew Chiefs (who supervised the Mechanics), could grant or deny a grievance, authorized and granted overtime and participated in the budget process.
In Aerovias de Mexico, 20 NMB 584 (1993), cited by AMFA, the Board found that Maintenance Supervisors were management officials, but Assistant Aircraft Maintenance Supervisors (AAMSs) were not. Similar to the Maintenance Supervisors on American, supra, Aerovias Maintenance Supervisors granted overtime and evaluated the performance of the AAMSs, including decisions on hiring and discipline. The AAMSs, in contrast, had more circumscribed authority. While they had the authority to grant overtime and borrow or purchase aircraft parts, they reported to both the Maintenance Supervisor and the Station Manager.
In finding the AAMSs to be subordinate officials, and, therefore, part of the craft or class of Mechanics and Related Employees, the Board cited its decision in Midway Airlines, Inc., 18 NMB 193 (1991) where it found that individuals who could authorize overtime, co-sign checks for fuel purchases, and recommend disciplinary actions were not management officials, because:
|No examples of effective disciplinary recommendations by [the individuals] were provided to the Board .... There is also insufficient evidence that the [individuals] exercise independent authority in other personnel matters.|
The record in this case fails to establish that Mesabas Maintenance Supervisors are management officials. While these individuals theoretically have a degree of supervisory responsibility, there is insufficient evidence that they actually exercise management authority. Although the Carrier asserts that these individuals can impose discipline, no evidence was presented in support of this assertion. In addition, three individuals in the job classification testify that they do not exercise several of the responsibilities contained in their job description. Further, there is no evidence (or even an assertion) that these individuals participate in the hiring process. Also, while the Maintenance Supervisors can commit funds to purchase aircraft parts, the purchases cannot exceed $5,000. These individuals are more analagous to the AAMSs in Aerovias, supra, than to the Maintenance Supervisors in American, supra.
Based upon the application of the pertinent standards to the record in this case, the Board finds that Mesabas Maintenance Supervisors are not management officials, and, therefore, are part of the craft or class of Mechanics and Related Employees.
The Board finds that Mesabas Maintenance Supervisors are encompassed by the certification issued to AMFA in R-6440. As there is no basis for further investigation, AMFAs application is converted to NMB Case No. R-6670 and dismissed.
By direction of the NATIONAL MEDIATION BOARD.
Stephen E. Crable
Chief of Staff
Ronald C. Henson, Esq.
Lee Seham, Esq.
Mr. O.V. Delle-Femine
Mr. Kevin F. McCormick