In the Matter of the
Application of the
alleging a representation dispute pursuant to Section 2, Ninth, of the Railway Labor Act, as amended
involving employees of
DELTA AIR LINES, INC.
26 NMB No. 77
(File No. CR-6652)
INVESTIGATION-AUTHORIZATION OF ELECTION
On March 5, 1999, the Transport Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO (TWU or Organization), filed an application with the Board pursuant to 45 U.S.C. § 152, Ninth, alleging the existence of a representation dispute involving "Pilot Ground Training Instructors" at Delta Air Lines, Inc. (Delta or Carrier ). At the time this application was received, these employees were not represented by any organization or individual.
The Board assigned the investigation to Sean J. Rogers, the Investigator.
For the reasons discussed below, the Board determination is that Pilot Ground Training Instructors constitute a separate and distinct craft or class for purposes of the Railway Labor Act (RLA).
After reviewing TWU’s application and the Carrier’s initial submissions, the Investigator requested additional books, records, documents, and information from the Carrier on March 29, 1999. On April 12, 1999, the Carrier responded to the request with extensive submissions, including an affidavit from Paul Nordan, General Manager-Training.
On April 22, 1999, the Investigator toured the Delta Training and Development Department facility in Atlanta, Georgia. TWU and Delta made a final submission to the Board on May 21, 1999.
The entire investigation disclosed that Pilot Ground Training Instructors are hired under unique job qualifications, perform specialized ground training of pilots, and are not functionally integrated with other training employees.
Whether "Pilot Ground Training Instructors" constitute a separate and distinct craft or class for purposes of representation under the Railway Labor Act?
The TWU contends that the 110 Pilot Ground Training Instructors at the Carrier’s Atlanta Training Facility share a community of interest and constitute a separate craft or class under the RLA. The Organization argues that the Board has consistently found a distinct craft or class of employees who do this work.
The Organization argues that the factors set out in U.S. Air, 10 NMB 391 (1983) and United Airlines, Inc., 9 NMB 266 (1982) to determine if a group of employees constitutes a separate craft or class are present in this case. TWU notes that the Pilot Ground Training Instructors:
TWU maintains that Pilot Ground Training Instructors "have a unique function within the carrier, as well as unique qualifications."
Delta Air Lines, Inc.
The Carrier asserts that there is no craft or class of Pilot Ground Training Instructors at Delta, and the craft or class must be Ground Training Personnel. Ground Training Personnel include 201 professional training employees at Delta’s Training and Development Department. Specifically, the Carrier contends that the Ground Training Personnel craft or class includes all employees of the Training and Development Department in the job classifications of: Instructor/Developer, Technician (Mock-up Shop), Graphic Artist, and Account Manager-Contract Sales.
In support of its claim that the training professionals at the Delta Training and Development Department are one craft or class, the Carrier asserts that:
The Carrier argues that a craft or class comprised of only Pilot Ground Training Instructors will result in fragmentation of employees into small crafts or classes of highly specialized employees.
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:
Delta is a common carrier by air as defined in 45 U.S.C. § 181.
TWU is a labor organization and/or representative as provided by 45 U.S.C. § 152, Ninth.
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.
FINDINGS OF FACT
Delta Air Lines, Inc.
Training and Development Department,
The Carrier’s Corporate Headquarters and the Training and Development Department are located on the perimeter of Hartsfield International Airport. Ground training for nearly all of the Carrier’s flight deck crew employees, flight attendants, mechanics, and certain other employees takes place in a number of inter-connected buildings.
Certain buildings house classrooms, computer based training rooms, cockpit simulators, and offices. Other buildings are dedicated to several massive, highly sophisticated "flight simulators" which provide near virtual reality training to flight deck crew employees. Nearby buildings house facilities for emergency procedures training and the Mock-up Shop where training platforms and simulated training environments are constructed.
The Account Manager-Contract Sales employees (Account Managers) are located in a sales office on the first floor of the main building of the Training and Development Department. The Technicians-Training (Mock-up Shop) employees (Technicians) work in the main Mock-up Shop described above. When needed, the Technicians also work in strategically placed smaller shops near training platforms and other simulated training environments. The Graphic Artists work in several environments throughout the facility, but they have dedicated office space in the main building of the training facility. The Instructor/Developers who are Pilot Ground Training Instructors work out of an office on the second floor of the main training facility. The Instructor/Developers who are Technical Operations Instructors and Program Developers work in other office space in the training facility.
The Carrier’s organizational chart displays the functional units of the Delta Training and Development Department as follows:
Instructor/Developer Team Assignments
Most of the training is based on specific equipment and aircraft. Therefore, when there are changes to or the advent of new equipment and aircraft, teams of training employees are formed to develop and/or update training. These teams use satellite office space throughout the training facility. Such teams may include Pilot Ground Training Instructors, Technical Operations Instructors and Program Developers. As these developmental projects progress, Graphic Artists may contribute to the overall training presentation. The Technicians may ultimately manufacture simulated training environments to support the overall training presentation.
Training Equipment and Classrooms
Pilot ground training centers around four training platforms, in order of complexity: Computer Based Training (CBT), Cockpit Procedures Trainers (CPT), Computer Assisted Procedures Trainers (CAPT), and Flight Training Devices (FTD). These training platforms represent a progression from a simple learner pace computer terminal to a full flight simulator.
At each advancement in training platforms, the pilot works progressively more closely with the Pilot Ground Training Instructor until the last step which simulates flight operations.
Students attending pilot ground training, technical operations training, flight attendant training, or other programs occasionally are instructed in traditional classrooms. Consequently, Instructor/Developers from both Pilot Ground Training and Technical Operations Training are assigned to these classrooms.
Account Manager-Contract Sales
Three Account Managers report directly to the Manager - Contract Training & Sales. The Contract Training & Sales unit reports directly to the General Manager - Training, Paul Nordan. The Account Managers represent the Carrier in the market development and logistical support of pilot, flight attendant, and maintenance training services sold to other carriers. These employees conduct all phases of the contract development and supervise the preparation of sales proposals.
The Account Manager job qualifications state:
The Carrier’s job qualifications statement also lists many non-technical qualities the successful candidate should possess: motivation, initiative, communication, teamwork skills, functioning under time pressure, and prioritizing job tasks with little supervision.
The pay rate for the Account Manager is a "Grade 6" rate on the Carrier’s General Management pay scale.
Technicians-Training Support (Mock-up Shop)
There are eight Technicians (Mock-up Shop) and one Senior Technician (Mock-up Shop) working at Delta’s Training and Development Department. All nine Technicians are assigned to the Technical Operations Training unit and report to the Manager - Technical Operations Training. The Manager - Technical Operations Training reports to the Director - Training, Bruce A. Smith, and also has a "dotted line" functional reporting arrangement to the General Manager - Training. Since the Technicians build and maintain simulated training environments, the Technical Operations Training unit also has a "dotted line" functional reporting arrangement to the Program Development unit.
The Technician is responsible for maintaining training support devices and audio-visual equipment used by the Carrier. Further, the Technicians have non-technical responsibilities including: ordering and stocking training supplies; checking in and out equipment; issuing parts; coordinating courier shipments and deliveries; and controlling inventory.
The Technician job qualifications require, in pertinent part: the ability to read, write and comprehend complex technical manuals; a high school diploma or G.E.D.; a basic understanding of mechanical and electrical disciplines; satisfactory scores on task-based tests; and the ability to lift seventy-five pounds. A recent Technician job announcement also states the Carrier prefers Technicians with "avionics background, related technical training or acceptable on-the-job experience."
The eight Technicians (Mock-up Shop) are paid on the same scale as Delta’s aircraft mechanics with one License Premium. The Senior Technician (Mock-up Shop) is paid on the same scale as Delta’s aircraft Lead Mechanics with one License Premium.
There are four Graphic Artist II’s and one Graphic Artist I working at the Delta Training and Development Department. All five Graphic Artists are assigned to the Program Development unit and report to the Manager - Program Development. The Manager - Program Development reports to the General Manager - Training.
The Carrier’s job summary evidence establishes that the Graphic Artists provide computer-based and printed artwork, as well as technical and creative support to course developers and subject matter experts. These employees’ job qualifications include a degree or certificate in Arts and Graphic Design or equivalent experience and a portfolio of professional work and experience with Windows or Macintosh graphics software.
These five employees are paid under a unique pay scale for Graphic Artists effective January 1, 1999.
The Carrier employs 184 individuals as Instructor/Developer, including the two in Salt Lake City. These employees are distributed among three functionally-based training units as follows: 110 assigned to Pilot Ground Training; fifty-one assigned to Technical Operations Training; and twenty-three assigned to Program Development.
A. Pilot Ground Training Instructor/Developers
There are 110 Instructor/Developers assigned to Pilot Ground Training. The two Salt Lake City Pilot Ground Training Instructors perform the same work and have the same job qualifications as the Atlanta Pilot Ground Training Instructors. All Pilot Ground Training Instructor/Developers are assigned to the Pilot Ground Training unit and report to the Manager - Pilot Ground Training. The Manager - Pilot Ground Training reports to the General Manager - Training. All Pilot Ground Training Instructors at Atlanta are assigned to a single office.
The Pilot Ground Training Instructors teach pilot ground training, including aircraft systems operations and aircraft normal and abnormal operation procedures. The teaching assignments take many modes, including:
The Pilot Ground Training Instructor job qualifications include:
The Carrier’s Bid Guidelines establish that Pilot Ground Training Instructors are given preference over all other Carrier employees within the Training Department.
Pilot Ground Training Instructors occasionally are assigned to program development work. In these ad hoc assignments, they develop curricula, syllabi and training materials as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) supporting the Program Development Instructor/Developer over several months or for longer periods when an entirely new aircraft joins Delta’s fleet. There is no evidence in the record of assignments of Program Development and Technical Operations Training Instructors/Developers to the Pilot Ground Training positions.
B. Technical Operations Training
The twenty-three Technical Operations Training Instructors/Developers and the nine Technicians Mock-up Shop) comprise the Technical Operations Training unit. These employees report to the Manager - Technical Operations Training. The Manager - Technical Operations Training reports to the Director Training.
The job summary establishes that the Technical Operations Instructors develop and teach aircraft and related maintenance training, including systems operations; normal, abnormal and emergency operation procedures; component location; removal and replacement; safety related items; component testing and troubleshooting; and return to service procedures. Specifically, these assignments take many modes, including:
The Technical Operations Instructor job qualifications include:
The Technical Operations Instructors train pilots and aircraft mechanics. Nordan explained during the Investigator’s site visit and in sworn statements that pilots require an operational knowledge of the mechanical systems of the aircraft, while the aircraft mechanics require a more comprehensive technical knowledge of the mechanical systems. As a consequence, the training materials for pilots and aircraft mechanics used by the Technical Operations Instructors are very similar and, in some parts, identical.
C. Program Development Instructor/Developers
The fifty-one Program Development Instructors/Developers and the five Graphic Artists comprise the Program Development unit. These employees report to the Manager - Program Development. The Manager - Program Development reports to the General Manager - Training.
The Program Development Instructors develop CBT, video, slide/tape, instructor/student guides and manuals for three discrete programs: Flight Attendants, Technical Operations and Pilot Ground Training. The Carrier’s job vacancy announcements establish that Program Development Instructors are hired with the expectation that their position will be primarily devoted to one of the three training programs. Program Development Instructors work with SME’s, programmers, artists and the Video Services Department to analyze and develop lesson objectives.
Generally, the Program Development Instructor job qualifications include:
· experience as a pilot or flight crew member is preferred; and
In determining the proper craft or class on a particular carrier, the Board examines a number of factors. These factors include functional integration, work classifications, terms and conditions of employment, salary and fringe benefits, and work-related community of interest. USAir, 15 NMB 369 (1988); British Airways, Inc., 10 NMB 174 (1983); United Airlines, Inc., 9 NMB 266 (1982). The factor of work-related community of interest is particularly important. USAir, supra; United Airlines, 10 NMB 458, 467 (1983); United Airlines, Inc., supra; Airborne Express, Inc., 9 NMB 115 (1981). In this regard, a particular grouping of employees must possess a sufficiently distinct community of interest and commonality of functional characteristics to ensure a mutuality of interest in the objective of collective bargaining. United Airlines, Inc., supra.
The Board has considered several factors in determining the proper craft or class in training operations, including: actual duties and responsibilities of the employees; the nature and setup of the training operations; the work environment; the position retention qualifications; the employee interaction; and the role of major training equipment. USAir, supra; United Airlines, Inc., supra.
In applying these factors and standards to the facts in this case, the Board finds that the Pilot Ground Training Instructors constitute a separate craft or class. In the critical factors of job qualification, job content, and functional integration, the Pilot Ground Training Instructors constitute a distinct grouping of employees at the Delta Training and Development Department.
The Board is not persuaded by the Carrier’s arguments that these employees share a community of interest. Although the Carrier has described all three instructional positions as "Instructor/Developer," these positions differ as to most the critical factors which determine community of interest. However, similarities among the three positions exist only at the edges. The differences are significant.
Only the Pilot Ground Training Instructors must hold a Commercial Pilot’s Certificate with Instrument Rating. They also must have a Flight Instructor Certificate or an Advanced Ground Instructor Certificate and/or an Instrument Ground Instructor Certificate. The Pilot Ground Training Instructors have significantly different teaching assignments than the other positions alleged by the Carrier to be part of the craft or class. While Pilot Ground Training Instructors are assigned to program development, teaming with Technical Operations Instructors and Program Developers, there is no evidence that the converse occurs. Although some training platforms are used by Pilot Ground Training Instructors and Technical Operations Instructors, they are used with different goals. The Carrier has placed all Pilot Ground Training Instructors in a separate unit with a separate office, except for the two Pilot Ground Training Instructors assigned to Salt Lake City.
The positions of Account Manager-Contract Sales, Technicians-Training Support (Mock-up Shop) and Graphic Artist provide administrative and technical support for the Carrier’s training function. These positions share almost no community of interest with the Instructor/Developers. Each position’s assignment, qualification and compensation differs from the other and from those of Pilot Ground Training Instructor. None of the incumbents provides class room, computer-based or any other form of instruction to pilots, flight attendants or aircraft mechanics. The functional organization of the Delta Training and Development Department places all of these positions in separate organizational units from Pilot Ground Training Instructors. While the employees assigned to these positions must support and understand the operations of the major training equipment, they do not use the equipment in an instructional mode as do the Pilot Ground Training Instructors.
CONCLUSION AND ORDER
The Board finds a dispute to exist among the Pilot Ground Training Instructors at the Delta Training and Development Department. The Board, therefore, converts File No. CR-6652 to Case No. R-6694 and authorizes an all-mail ballot election using a cut-off date of February 28, 1999.
By direction of the NATIONAL MEDIATION BOARD.
Stephen E. Crable
Chief of Staff
Mr. Terry M. Erskine
Walter A. Brill, Esq.
John J. Gallagher, Esq.
Mr. John J. Kerrigan
Arthur Luby, Esq.