In the Matter of the
INDEPENDENT ASSOCIATION OF CONTINENTAL PILOTS
alleging a representation dispute pursuant to Section 2, Ninth, of the Railway Labor Act, as amended
involving employees of
CONTINENTAL AIRLINES, INC./CONTINENTAL EXPRESS, INC.
27 NMB No. 19
CASE NO. R-6717
November 22, 1999
On July 20, 1999, the Independent Association of Continental Pilots (IACP or Organization), filed an application with the National Mediation Board (Board) pursuant to 45 U.S.C. § 152, Ninth, alleging the existence of a representation dispute involving "Offline Check Airmen/Instructors" at Continental Airlines/Continental Express, Inc. (Continental or Carrier). At the time this application was received, these employees were not represented by any organization or individual.
The Board assigned Sean J. Rogers as the Investigator.
The Organization's application sought representation of approximately 277 employees in the craft or class of Offline Check Airmen/Instructors. The Carrier's list of potential eligibles included employees with numerous working job titles in the generic positions of "Pilot Instructor," "Second Officer Instructor" and "Check Airmen," hereinafter collectively referred to as "Flight Instructors." However, the Carrier's list omitted approximately forty employees in the position of "Ground School Instructors." The Organization objected to the omission and asserted Flight Instructors and Ground School Instructors constituted a single craft or class.
The investigation disclosed that Ground School Instructors are hired under unique job qualifications, perform specialized ground training of pilots, and are not functionally integrated with other training employees. For the reasons discussed below, the Board's determination is that Flight Instructors constitute a separate and distinct craft or class for purposes of the Railway Labor Act (RLA), and authorizes an election among the Flight Instructors craft or class.
On July 21, 1999, the Board instructed the Carrier to deliver to the NMB by August 4, 1999, an alphabetized list of potential eligible voters in the proposed craft or class of Offline Check Airmen/Instructors. The Carrier's August 4, 1999, submission listed the names of 237 "individuals employed as of July 15, 1999, the last day of the last payroll period ending prior to July 20, 1999." The Carrier also noted that the "present application submitted by the ('IACP') appears to cover the same employees ('Instructor Pilots') as were at issue in Case No. R-6652." See Continental Airlines Inc./Continental Express, Inc., 26 NMB 143 (1999).
On August 9, 1999, the Investigator advised the Carrier and IACP to submit any challenges and objections to the list of potential eligible voters to the Board by August 24, 1999. The Investigator also stated:
The Carrier asserts that the employee list submitted on August 4, 1999 in this case is the List of Potential Eligible Voters. The Carrier also states that the Organization's application "...appears to cover the same employees ('Instructor Pilots') as were at issue in Case No. R-6652..." which the Carrier submitted on April 28, 1998. Yet, the Carrier has not submitted the same list of names.
There are substantial differences between the two lists. Therefore, the Carrier and the Organization are requested to submit Statements of Positions on the proper craft or class. In addition, the Carrier must state the name(s) of the employee(s) included or excluded on the August 4, 1999 list, as compared to the April 28, 1998 list, and state the reason(s) for the difference(s).
On August 24, 1999, the Carrier and the IACP submitted Statements of Positions on the proper craft or class. However the Carrier did not state the name(s) of the employee(s) included or excluded on the August 4, 1999, list, as compared to the April 28, 1998, list in NMB Case No. R-6652, and did not state any reasons for the differences.
On September 3, 1999, the Investigator posed several questions to the Carrier and requested certain additional records, documents, and information from the Carrier. The Investigator renewed the request to the Carrier to detail and explain the difference(s) between the two lists of employees.
On September 10, 1999, the Carrier submitted a partial response to the Investigator's inquiries. Therefore, on September 21, 1999, the Investigator renewed his information requests to the Carrier for the information. The Carrier, on September 28, 1999, responded in full to the Investigator's requests.
NMB Case No. R-6652
In Continental Airlines Inc./Continental Express, Inc., supra, IACP asserted that "Instructor Pilots" should be accreted into the craft or class of "Pilots" which IACP represented. The Carrier asserted that "Training Department Instructors" and "Training Check Airmen" had separate interests from Pilots and should not be included in the Pilot craft or class.
The Board concluded that Flight Instructors, Second Officer Instructors and Training Check Airmen are not included in the Pilots' craft or class at Continental Airlines/Continental Express. Accordingly, the IACP's application seeking to represent "Instructor Pilots as an accretion to the Pilots craft or class" was converted to NMB Case No. R-6652 and dismissed.
The IACP's current application alleges the existence of a representation dispute involving Offline Check Airmen/Instructors at Continental Airlines/Continental Express, Inc. The Carrier's list of potential eligibles submitted on August 4, 1999, listed the names of 237 employees in the positions of Flight Instructors but, omitted the names of forty Ground School Instructors which were included in its list of potential eligibles in NMB Case No. R-6652.
Whether Flight Instructors constitute a proper craft or class? If so, whether Ground School Instructors are part of the craft or class of Flight Instructors for purposes of representation under the Railway Labor Act?
The IACP contends that the Ground and Flight Instructors share a substantial community of interest and should be included in a single craft or class.
The IACP argues that U.S. Air, 10 NMB 391 (1983) and United Airlines, Inc., 9 NMB 266 (1982) set forth a number of factors to determine the proper craft or class for employees engaged in training operations. The factors include consideration of: the actual duties of the employees; the nature and setup of the operations; the work environment; the qualifications of the employees; the job retention requirement; the interaction among the employees; and the role of major equipment, such as simulators, audio visual equipment and computers.
The IACP states that Ground School Instructors and Flight Instructors use the same flight training device or simulator for training on the B-777 aircraft.
The IACP asserts that both Ground School Instructors and Flight Instructors are employed at the Carrier's Houston Training Facility and hired by the Carrier's Training Department. The IACP says there is substantial interaction between Ground School Instructors and Flight Instructors during training moreover, they share the same facility, management and scheduling. Ground School Instructors and Flight Instructors share similar duties as well, according to IACP.
Finally, according to the IACP, flying is merely incidental to the Flight Instructors duties. The IACP notes that the Carrier does not require Flight Instructors to hold pilot licenses and a number of Flight Instructors are not pilot qualified because of medical reasons, age requirements or other reasons. Moreover, the IACP states, Flight Instructors perform only a small amount of revenue flying.
CONTINENTAL/CONTINENTAL EXPRESS, INC.
The Carrier asserts that Flight Instructors, Second Officer Instructors and Training Check Airmen constitute a separate and distinct craft or class of Flight Instructors. The Carrier says that Ground Instructors are not properly included in this craft or class.
The Carrier says the Board determination of "an appropriate craft or class of Flight Instructors, should be beyond dispute." In support of this claim, the Carrier cites: ABX Air, Inc., 24 NMB 129 (1997); Southwest Airlines Company, 17 NMB 168 (1990); United Airlines, 10 NMB 458 (1983) and U.S. Air, 10 NMB 391 (1983). Furthermore, according to the Carrier, the exclusion of Ground Instructors from the Flight Instructor craft or class is consistent with Board precedent based on Delta Airlines, 26 NMB 391 (1999); U.S. Air, supra; (1983) and United Air Lines, Inc., 4 NMB 47 (1965).
The Carrier asserts that the Ground School Instructors are not recruited from or included on Pilot System Seniority List. Further, they do not progress to become pilots, flight instructors or check airmen. In addition, they have different pay, benefits and conditions of employment from Flight Instructors, the Carrier says.
Finally, citing Continental Airlines and Continental Express, 20 NMB 326 (1993) the Carrier argues that Ground Instructors at Continental have historically been considered a separate craft or class.
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:
Continental/Continental Express Inc. is a common carrier by air as defined in 45 U.S.C. § 181.
IACP 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
Continental's Training Department, Houston, Texas
The Carrier's Training Department is located in Houston, Texas. Ground and flight training for the Carrier's flight deck crew employees takes place at the Houston facility. The Carrier uses non-motion, non-visual Flight Training Devices (FTDs) for ground and flight training, as well as other training devices and flight simulators. There are two phases of FTD training: the A phase or ground instruction (FTD-A) and the B phase for flight instruction (FTD-B).
FTD-A is the final phase of ground school training. During FTD-A Ground Instructors teach pilots the functions of onboard computer systems, procedures for programming, and the checklists and memory items, as well as the cockpit setup for specific aircraft.
FTD-B is the first phase of flight training and is taught only by Flight Instructors. Pilots learn actual cockpit procedures, flight maneuvers and flying skills and techniques. Flight Instructors also perform Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proficiency and recurrent check rides, initial operating experience evaluations, line checks, and full motion and visual flight simulator pilot training.
At the time of the IACP application, the Carrier identified 237 Flight Instructors as potential eligibles with position titles of Pilot Instructor, Second Officer Instructor and Check Airmen. The Carrier identified forty Ground School Instructors during the investigation.
Flight Instructors are required by the Carrier and the FAA to possess a current commercial airline pilot license and a type rating for the fleet type on which they instruct or check ride. They are selected from the Carrier's Pilot's System Seniority List and, unless medically disqualified or over age sixty, they continue to fly revenue flights.
Based on the collective bargaining agreement between the Carrier and the IACP, "Flight Instructors" are paid approximately $12,000 to $18,000 monthly. They also participate in the 401k and pension retirement plans as Continental Pilots. The collective bargaining agreement requires Flight Instructors to have experience as Continental Pilots.
Ground School Instructors
Ground School Instructors are not required to possess a current commercial airline pilot license although the Carrier identified seventeen who do.
Although recent Carrier records establish that two Ground School Instructors became Continental Pilots and two others qualified as Continental Pilots, Ground School Instructors do not progress to Pilot positions as a condition of employment.
Ground School Instructors are paid approximately $3,000 to $6,000 monthly and are covered by the Carrier's collective bargaining agreements with the IACP. They participate in the 401k and pension retirement plans of non-pilot Continental employees.
The Carrier's Flight Standards and Training function is divided between the business entities, Continental Airlines, Inc. and Continental Express, Inc. The two organizational structures differ slightly. However, in both, Flight and Ground School Instructors work in separate organizational units.
Continental Airlines, Inc.
Flight and Ground School Instructors are functionally organized into six instruction units based on the six types of aircraft flown by Continental Airlines, Inc. Within each instruction unit, the Flight and Ground School Instructors are divided into separate work units. The work units each report to a training manager for the assigned aircraft of each instruction unit. The six managers report to the Senior Director Flight Standards and Training who reports to the Vice President Flight Standards and Training.
Continental Express, Inc.
Flight Instructors, who are all Check Airmen, are functionally organized into four instruction units based on the four types of aircraft flown by Continental Express, Inc. The work units each report to a training manager. The four training managers report to the Manager Flight Standards and Training who reports to the Senior Director Flight Standards and Training.
Ground School Instructors are functionally organized into a separate unit and report to the Manager Pilot Ground Training who reports to the Manager Flight Standards and Training who reports to the Senior Director Flight Standards and Training.
The Board finds that Ground School Instructors are not included in the craft or class of Flight Instructors (including the positions of Flight Instructor, Second Officer Instructor and Training Check Airmen) employed by the Carrier.
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 here, the Board finds that the Flight Instructors constitute a separate and distinct craft or class. In the critical factors of job qualification, job content, and functional integration, the Flight Instructors constitute a distinct grouping of employees at the Continental's Training Department.
The Board is not persuaded by the IACP's arguments that Flight Instructors and Ground School Instructors share a community of interest for the following reasons discussed below:
Only Flight Instructors must hold a Commercial Pilot's Certificate with appropriate type ratings. Furthermore, they are selected from among the Carrier's Pilots and must have experience as Continental Pilots. Flight Instructors, under age sixty and medically qualified, continue to fly revenue flights.(1)
The Flight Instructors have significantly different teaching responsibilities compared to the Ground School Instructors. Simply put, Flight Instructors teach flying skills and flight maneuvers; Ground School Instructors teach aircraft systems and procedures.
Moreover, the Carrier has placed Flight Instructors and Ground School Instructors in separate organizational units. At Continental Express, Inc., the Flight Instructor unit reports to a different manager.
Flight and Ground School Instructors compensation and benefits are not only markedly different, but also the basis of Flight Instructor's compensation and benefits is the Carrier's Line Pilot collective bargaining agreement with the IACP.
Therefore, the Board finds that Ground School Instructors are not part of the craft or class of Flight Instructors.
CONCLUSION AND ORDER
The Board finds a dispute to exist among the Flight Instructors at the Carrier's Houston Training Department. Pursuant to Section 11.2 of the Board's Representation Manual, the Carrier is hereby required to furnish, within five calendar days, alphabetized peel-off labels bearing the names and current addresses of those employees on the list of potential eligible voters. Therefore, the Board converts NMB File No. CR-6668 to NMB Case No. R-6717 and authorizes an all-mail ballot election using a cut-off date of July 15, 1999.
By direction of the NATIONAL MEDIATION BOARD.
Stephen E. Crable
Chief of Staff
Michael H. Campbell
Daniel P. Casey
Jeffery D. Wall, Esq.
Roland Wilder, Esq.
William P. Wilder, Esq.
William A. Borrelli
Ernest E. Sowell, Esq.
1. For other reasons, the NMB has determined that "Flight Instructors" do not share a community of interest with the Carrier's Line Pilots and Line Check Pilots. Continental Airlines Inc./Continental Express, Inc., supra at 152.