In the Matter of the
INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS
alleging a representation dispute
pursuant to Section 2, Ninth,
involving employees of
AIRTRAN AIRWAYS, INC.
28 NMB No. 83
CASE NO. R-6829
July 18, 2001
This determines the craft or class issue raised by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT or Organization). For the reasons described below, the Board finds that the proper craft or class is Fleet and Passenger Service Employees.
On April 18, 2001, the IBT filed an application with the National Mediation Board (NMB or Board) pursuant to 45 U.S.C. § 152, Ninth, alleging a representation dispute among Fleet Service Employees of AirTran Airways, Inc. (AirTran or Carrier) . The employees are currently unrepresented.
The Board assigned Susanna Fisher as the Investigator.
In response to the IBT's application, AirTran filed an initial position statement on April 24, 2001. AirTran stated that the proper craft or class is Fleet and Passenger Service Employees. On May 9, 2001, the IBT filed its initial position statement. The IBT stated that there was an identifiable group of AirTran employees engaged in fleet service work. The Carrier supplemented its initial position statement on May 9, 2001, and stated that the dispute concerns AirTran's Fleet and Passenger Service Employees, including its Reservations Agents located in Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia.
On May 25, 2001, AirTran responded to the Investigator's request for additional information. The IBT responded to the additional information on June 11, 2001.
During the investigation, Investigator Fisher randomly selected employees to interview at three of AirTran's stations, and the Carrier proffered supervisors as witnesses. Investigators Fisher and Benetta Mansfield conducted on-site interviews with employees and Carrier officials in Atlanta, Georgia, on June 19, 2001. Investigator Mansfield interviewed employees in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, on June 20, 2001, and Investigator Fisher interviewed employees in Houston, Texas, on June 20, 2001. The stations selected were representative stations of the AirTran system.
What is the proper craft or class for Fleet Service Employees at AirTran?
AirTran contends that the proper craft or class is Fleet and Passenger Service Employees, including the Carrier's Reservations Agents. The Carrier states that the NMB has previously found the proper craft or class to be Fleet and Passenger Service Employees. AirTran Airlines, 25 NMB 320 (1998). The Carrier states that in February 2000, the Board reaffirmed its decision that the proper craft or class at AirTran was Fleet and Passenger Service Employees. In that case, the Board dismissed the IAM's application because less than a majority of eligible Fleet and Passenger Service Employees cast valid votes for representation. The Carrier did not challenge the craft or class and the Board did not rule on the proper craft or class. AirTran, 27 NMB 219 (2000). The Carrier also states that its operations have remained unchanged since the February 2000, ruling.
AirTran asserts that the Atlanta station employs both Ramp Service Agents (RSAs) and Customer Service Agents (ATL CSAs), while the outstations employ only Customer Service Agents (CSAs). In addition, AirTran states that of the 33 outstations in the AirTran system, there are 10 stations where ramp service work is contracted out. Two of these 10 outstations contract out gate and ticket counter functions as well.
The Carrier contends that in outstations where ramp work is not contracted out, the CSAs are required to have two uniforms - one for ramp duties and one for ticket counter and gate duties. In addition, AirTran states that it cross-trains 100% of its outstation CSAs. AirTran asserts that its outstation CSAs assist passengers at the ticket counter, gate area, baggage service area, and handle air cargo and baggage, and direct and service aircraft. AirTran argues that a single craft or class of Fleet and Passenger Service Employees exists at AirTran, based upon the cross-utilization of its employees and their work-related community of interest. The Carrier further contends that IBT is seeking to fragment the craft or class.
The IBT contends that a separate craft or class of Fleet Service Employees exists on AirTran. IBT argues that circumstances have changed since the 1998 determination that Fleet and Passenger Service Employees on AirTran are cross-utilized. The Organization states that AirTran's growth since 1998 has led to a separate Fleet Service craft or class. Further, the IBT argues that RSAs and CSAs (ATL and outstation) wear different uniforms and receive different training. The Organization argues that cross-utilization occurs only at the smallest stations while "[n]early 80 percent of the Carrier's flights do not even operate into stations where any cross-utilization occurs." The IBT asserts that AirTran's Fleet Service Employees do not share a work-related community of interest with the CSAs (ATL or outstation).
FINDINGS OF LAW
Determination of the issues in this case is governed by the Railway Labor Act (RLA), as amended, 45 U.S.C. §§ 151-188. Accordingly, the Board finds as follows:
AirTran is a common carrier by air as defined in 45 U.S.C. § 181.
The IBT 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 any 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
In October 1997, the IBT filed an application for the "Fleet and Passenger Service Employees," employees of AirTran Airlines. This case was docketed as R-6560. The IBT subsequently filed an amended application covering the craft or class of Fleet Service Employees. The Board conducted an investigation and determined that the appropriate craft or class was Fleet and Passenger Service Employees. The Board dismissed the application because "the organization had failed to support its application with the required number of authorizations from the employees in the craft or class. . . ." AirTran Airlines, 25 NMB 320, 321 (1998).
AirTran is a hub-and-spoke system with all of its flights originating from Atlanta, Georgia. AirTran has 33 outlying stations. The Carrier employs approximately 220 ATL CSAs, 465 RSAs, and 615 outstation CSAs. The outstation CSAs' job title encompasses several functions, including ramp, ticket counter, and gate. AirTran also employs approximately 575 reservations agents in Atlanta and Savannah.
A. Job Functions
According to AirTran's job description, an outstation CSA:
Processes passengers at the ticket counter, gate area, baggage service area, and assists in operations.
Loads and unloads baggage, marshalls aircraft, and assists with all aspects of the ramp position.
ATL CSAs process passengers at the ticket counter, gate area, baggage service area, and assist in operations. Atlanta RSAs' duties "consist of performing or assisting in areas of [sic] and safety to both passengers and co-workers on the ground."
AirTran submitted a declaration from Cindy Holbrook, the Director of Customer Training and Recruiting. Holbrook is responsible for the hiring and training of all the AirTran ramp and customer service agents. According to Holbrook, all new hires must participate in a training course at AirTran's Customer Service Training Center. ATL CSAs undergo a two-week training course designed specifically for customer service agents. RSAs participate in a five-day training course designed specifically for ramp employees. The on-site investigations revealed that outstation CSAs participate in a two-week training course where they learn both ticket counter and gate functions, as well as ramp functions. One employee interviewed by the Investigator worked as an RSA for two years before transferring to an outstation. This employee had to participate in the two-week training course to learn the duties of a CSA before being transferred.
Thomas Kalil is Senior Vice President of Customer Service. According to Kalil, ATL CSAs and RSAs are on the same seniority list. AirTran also presented evidence that these employees have the same rates of pay, benefits, vacation and leave policies, and are subject to the same attendance policy and work rules. The on-site investigations confirmed overlapping job responsibilities, similar terms and conditions of employment, salary, and fringe benefits.
The same compensation plan applies to ATL CSAs, RSAs, and outstation CSAs. There is no distinction in pay based upon performance of ramp, ticket counter, or gate duties. In stations where ramp service work is not contracted out, CSAs must purchase two uniforms, one for "outside" work on the ramp and one for "inside" work at the ticket counter and gate area. All of the employees interviewed during the investigation had both uniforms and were told from their initial hiring that they would be working at both the ticket counter and gate area as well as on the ramp.
It is undisputed that the ATL CSAs and RSAs are not cross-utilized; they perform either customer service or ramp duties. However, in the 33 outstations, the employees are cross-utilized. The Investigator conducted on-site investigations to determine the appropriate craft or class for the outstation CSAs. The investigation revealed that, with limited exception, outstation CSAs work both inside at the ticket counter or gate area and outside on the ramp on a regular basis. Very few employees work exclusively at the ticket counter and gate area or the ramp. All outstation CSAs are required to have both inside and outside uniforms, are paid on the same pay scale, receive the same benefits and vacation, work similar hours, are on the same seniority list, and bid the same shift and vacation schedules. Supervisors at the outstations supervise employees working at the ticket counter and gate area, as well as those working on the ramp. Although a small number of outstation CSAs predominantly perform either ramp duties or ticket counter and gate duties, each employee is completely cross-trained and owns both uniforms. In addition, the investigation revealed that employees performing ramp duties are frequently required to assist employees working at the ticket counter or gate area during the day and vice versa. Therefore, employees who are not scheduled for ticket counter and gate work may spend a large part of their day performing ticket counter and gate duties.
According to Kalil, reservations agents' duties include speaking to passengers and providing them with support, information, and advice. The reservations agents receive identical pay as the ATL CSAs, RSAs, and outstation CSAs. Reservations agents are not required to wear uniforms.
The Board makes craft or class determinations based on a work-related community of interest. National Airlines, Inc., 27 NMB 550 (2000); American Airlines, Inc., 26 NMB 106 (1998); LSG Lufthansa Services, Inc., 25 NMB 96 (1997). In determining the proper craft or class for employees, the Board is guided by the Representation Manual (Manual) Section 5.1 which states:
Individual cases require consideration of facts peculiar to particular situations, but, in addition, there are general factors to be considered. These may include, among others, the composition and relative permanency of employee groupings along craft or class lines; the functions, duties, and responsibilities of the employees; the general nature of their work; and the extent of community of interest existing between job classifications.
The Board examines the actual duties and responsibilities of employees, not merely job titles when determining whether there is a work-related community of interest. National Airlines, above at 555; American Airlines, above at 117. In this case, the job descriptions for ATL CSAs, RSAs, and outstation CSAs are identical, but outstation CSAs perform both ramp and ticket counter and gate duties. The Board has found that the essence of passenger service is "customer contact," and that is the difference between the two crafts or classes. National Airlines, above at 555 (2000); American Airlines, above at 119; China Airlines, LTD, 6 NMB 434 (1978). Despite the Organization's claims, the investigation revealed that the outstation CSAs are cross-utilized.
Reservations agents are traditionally included with customer service agents on the basis of similar work, even when they work in different locations and under different conditions. Southwest Airlines, 20 NMB 116 (1992); Trans World Airlines, Inc., 6 NMB 703 (1979); United Airlines, 6 NMB 180 (1977).
The Board finds overlapping job responsibilities, strong work-related community of interest, similarity of terms and conditions of employment, and salary and fringe benefits among these employees. The proper craft or class at AirTran is Fleet and Passenger Service Employees.
CONCLUSION AND DISMISSAL
The Board finds that the proper craft or class is Fleet and Passenger Service Employees at AirTran.
Therefore, the application is hereby dismissed. NMB File No. CR-6717 is converted to NMB Case No. R-6829 and closed.
By direction of the NATIONAL MEDIATION BOARD.
Stephen E. Crable
Chief of Staff
David Brown, Esq.
Mr. Loral Blinde
Richard P. Magurno, Esq.
Mr. Ray Benning
Roland Wilder, Esq.
Kenneth E. Hilbish