In the Matter of the
alleging a representation dispute
pursuant to Section 2, Ninth,
involving employees of
28 NMB No. 97
CASE NO. R-6841
September 14, 2001
This determination addresses the International Brotherhood of Teamsters' (IBT) application, filed with the National Mediation Board (Board) pursuant to 45 U.S.C. § 152, Ninth, alleging a representation dispute among "Maintenance Controllers" employees of AirTran Airways, Inc. (AirTran or Carrier). The IBT is the certified representative of the AirTran Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class. Air Tran Airways, Inc., 23 NMB 330 (1996). The IBT asserts that Maintenance Controllers are part of the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class.
The Board assigned Sean J. Rogers as the Investigator.
For the reasons discussed below, the Board finds that Maintenance Controllers, including Maintenance Controller Supervisors (MC Supervisors), are included in the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class. Therefore, the application is dismissed.
On June 22, 2001, the IBT filed an application alleging a representation dispute among Maintenance Controllers, including MC Supervisors, at AirTran. The IBT requested that the Board accrete these employees into the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class.
On July 6, 2001, IBT filed an initial position statement. On July 11, 2001, the Carrier filed an alphabetized list and signature samples of potential eligible voters who were AirTran Maintenance Controllers on the cut-off date. On July 17, 2001, the Carrier filed an initial position statement and the IBT responded on July 24, 2001.
On July 26, 2001, the Investigator requested additional information from the Carrier. On August 1, 2001, the Carrier filed a response. In addition, the Investigator also interviewed Maintenance Control employees.
Should AirTran's Maintenance Controllers, including MC Supervisors, be included in the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class?
The IBT's initial position statement supports its application for accretion as follows:
The Board has uniformly determined that airline employees who perform work similar to AirTran's Maintenance Controllers to be part of the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class. AirTran's Maintenance Controllers share a work related community of interest with Mechanics and Related Employees. Many of the Maintenance Controllers' duties and responsibilities are identical or substantially equivalent to those of AirTran's Mechanic and Related Employees. In addition, AirTran's Maintenance Controllers must hold an FAA Mechanic Certificate with airframe and powerplant ratings just like Mechanics and Related Employees. Since AirTran's Maintenance Controllers perform work traditionally performed by Mechanics and Related Employees, a separate craft or class would be contrary to precedent and would cause fragmentation and instability.
After reviewing the Carrier's July 11, 2001, list of potential eligible voters, the IBT asserted that the three MC Supervisors should be on the list of eligible voters because they are subordinate officials in the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class. IBT asserts that MC Supervisors do not have the authority to discharge or discipline employees, issue verbal or written warnings, hire employees, set Carrier policy, purchase parts, assign work, or grant overtime. MC Supervisors are paid the same and enjoy the same benefits as Maintenance Controllers.
For all these reasons, IBT asserts Maintenance Controllers, including MC Supervisors, are within the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class.
AirTran asserts that Maintenance Controllers do not belong in the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class for the following reasons:
Mechanics are not functionally integrated with Maintenance Controllers. All Maintenance Controllers are located in Orlando, Florida, while mechanics are located in six different airports. The Maintenance Controllers are classified differently from mechanics. Moreover, Maintenance Controllers have a different job description and do not share one job responsibility with mechanics.
Maintenance Controllers enjoy different conditions of employment, including:
MC Supervisors are management officials and were properly omitted from the list of potential eligible voters provided to the Board.
For all these reasons, AirTran asserts Maintenance Controllers, including MC Supervisors, are not within the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class and the IBT's application must be dismissed and the accretion denied. In the alternative, if the IBT's request for accretion is granted, the Carrier requests an election among the Maintenance Controllers to determine whether accretion is warranted.
FINDINGS OF LAW
Determination of the issues in this case is governed by the Railway Labor Act, 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
AirTran's Maintenance Department
and Maintenance Control Functions
AirTran's Maintenance Department includes two "hubs" at the Atlanta, Georgia, and Orlando, Florida, airports. Two "sub-hubs," located in Washington, D.C. (Dulles) and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, report to the Atlanta-hub, and two "sub-hubs," located in Tampa and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, report to the Orlando-hub. As necessary, AirTran also contracts aircraft maintenance with independent repair facilities and vendors. All AirTran's aircraft maintenance functions and employees, including maintenance control, ultimately report to the General Manager of Maintenance.
AirTran's MC Supervisors and Maintenance Controllers work in the Carrier's Orlando office, Orlando International Airport. The aircraft Maintenance Control function is a separate organizational component in the Maintenance Department. MC Supervisors and Maintenance Controllers report to the Manager of Maintenance Control, who reports to the General Manager of Maintenance.
At the time of the IBT application, AirTran employed four MC Supervisors and ten Maintenance Controllers. During the investigation, one MC Supervisor was promoted and one Maintenance Controller terminated employment. Employee interviews established that the work of the promoted MC Supervisor has been performed by a Maintenance Controller without additional compensation or promotion.
Maintenance Controller Position Description
AirTran's Maintenance Controller position description reads, in pertinent part:
(a) Provides to the aircraft in-service real time technical and logistical support to ensure both safe and on-time service for the company.
(b) Provides technical knowledge and logistical support for active fleet maintenance discrepancies, Minimum Equipment List (MEL), Deferred Maintenance Item (DM), Configuration Deviation List (C.L.), and Watch Items (WS and WP), to determine proper and timely corrective action.
(c) Responsible for the timely and accurate completion of the daily reports required of Maintenance Control. Ensure all MEL items are scheduled and completed prior to time limit.
(d) Is familiar with and ensures compliance with the policies and procedures within the company's General Maintenance Manual.
(e) Is the main point of contact for Line Stations who support aircraft on a daily basis.
(f) Responsible for assisting the Approved Line Station Maintenance Vendor's staff in troubleshooting and repair of aircraft discrepancies. This includes the location of approved repair data and supplying the same to vendors as needed to effect timely repairs.
(g) Maintains the technical and company manuals used in Maintenance Control to ensure they are current and complete.
(a) Holds a current FAA Mechanic Certification with both Airframe and Powerplant ratings, and has held these ratings for at least three (3) years.
(b) Knows the maintenance parts of the Maintenance Operations Manual and applicable provision of Federal Aviation Regulations.
(c) Has both good written and verbal communication skills.
Maintenance Controller Supervisor Position Description
AirTran's MC Supervisor position description reads, in pertinent part:
(a) Supervises the Maintenance Controllers and Aircraft Routers in coordination with the Aviation Maintenance Bases(s) (sic).
(b) Responsible to the Manager of Maintenance Control for the overall performance of the Maintenance Control Department.
(c) Is the direct liaison with the SOC Duty Manager for communication of all out of service aircraft.
(d) Responsible for the timely completion of all out of service aircraft.
(e) Coordinates technical and logistical support of all out of service aircraft in both maintenance and non-maintenance bases.
(f) Coordinates aircraft routing in association with scheduled maintenance through the dissemination of the planning MX-21 report.
(g) Ensures timely completion of all necessary reports.
(h) Is familiar with and ensures compliance with the policies and procedures contained in the company's GMM.
(i) Performs the duties of Maintenance Controller as required.
(j) Performs the Daily Out of Service Briefings, providing accurate informative information.
(k) Coordinates technical and logistical support for all out of service aircraft in both maintenance and non-maintenance bases.
(l) Ensures completion of all Daily Walk Around and Service Checks.
(a) Holds a current FAA Airframe and Powerplant Certificate and has held these ratings for at least three (3) years.
(b) At least two (2) years of diversified maintenance experience on large aircraft with an air carrier, commercial operator or Certified Repair Station.
(c) Has both good written and verbal communication skills.
MC Supervisor and Maintenance Controller
Since October 1999, the Carrier has advertised three MC Supervisor vacancies and three Maintenance Controller vacancies.
MC Supervisor Vacancy Announcement
AirTran's MC Supervisor vacancy reads, in pertinent part:
BRIEF JOB DESCRIPTION:
Supervise the Maintenance Controllers in coordination with maintenance requirements for AirTran aircraft, at all line stations and maintenance bases.
Maintenance Controller Vacancy Announcement
AirTran's Maintenance Controller vacancy reads in pertinent part:
BRIEF JOB DESCRIPTION:
The Maintenance Controller will determine the need for, and schedule, the necessary non-routine maintenance required to keep AirTran aircraft operational on a day to day basis. Work with various approved vendors at both the Line Stations and the maintenance base. Responsibilities include but are not limited to:
MC Supervisor and Maintenance Controller
Duties and Responsibilities
Employee affidavits and interviews establish that Maintenance Controllers support, control, coordinate and direct the maintenance of AirTran's fleet. At times, the Maintenance Controllers oversee the hiring of contractors who provide aircraft maintenance at "out stations." One employee stated that the Maintenance Controller's most important responsibility was "authorizing the release of aircraft from maintenance to the flight line." Employees state that during a 12-hour shift, each Maintenance Controller controls approximately 30 aircraft.
According to employees, Maintenance Controllers are assisted in these duties and responsibilities by MC Supervisors who "backup" and "oversee" the work. An MC Supervisor states:
Supervisors and Controllers perform the same exact duties. . . .The single duty performed by Supervisors is that they are responsible for performing the MOC Briefing into an automated voice mailbox.
An MC Supervisor also states that MC Supervisors do not assign work to, approve overtime for, discipline, or hire Maintenance Controllers. The affidavit also states that MC Supervisors do not formulate the policy or commit Carrier funds.
MC Supervisors and Maintenance Controllers Salaries
Eight Maintenance Controllers are paid an hourly rate from $19.83 to $25, depending on length of service, and two are paid a monthly rate of $1,846.15. Employee interviews establish that the monthly rate is also broken down to an hourly rate to calculate leave and overtime compensation. The submission also establishes that MC Supervisors are paid an hourly rate from $23.78 to $24.96.
Employee interviews establish that MC Supervisors and Maintenance Controllers are paid their hourly rate for each hour worked in excess of their scheduled hours of work. Employees also state that they have been paid for work at home. For example, pay for responding to work-related aircraft maintenance telephone calls.
Mechanic and Related Employees Salaries
The current AirTran-IBT Mechanics and Related Employees collective bargaining agreement establishes an hourly rate for the mechanic classification from $15.25 to $21.74, depending on experience. Mechanics and inspectors with more than 90 months of experience receive $27 per hour. In addition, mechanics and inspectors receive $.50 per hour for each "FAA Airframe and Power Plant license" they hold. The inspector classification receives an additional "$.75 per hour over his rate of pay as a Mechanic." Inspectors "holding the classification of Inspector on the date of Contract Ratification . . . receive [another] $.75 per hour over the top Mechanic Classification rate of pay."
Maintenance Controller and Mechanic Benefits
The AirTran-IBT Mechanics and Related Employees' collective bargaining agreement, Article 16, describes a retirement plan which includes Carrier contributions to the IBT Pension Plan. The agreement also provides that "Mechanics and Inspectors may continue to make voluntary contributions to the Company 401K (sic) plan." The AirTran Airways Employee Handbook (Handbook) states that the AirTran "401(k) tax-deferred retirement savings plan" is offered to all full-time employees.
The Handbook also establishes that all employees are offered: group medical insurance, group dental insurance, basic and optional life insurance, basic and long-term disability insurance, flexible spending accounts, a stock purchase plan, and pass privileges.
AirTran's website displays a vacancy announcement for "Aircraft Maintenance Technician, Airframe & Powerplant." The announcement establishes that the benefits offered to Aircraft Maintenance Technician's are substantially the same to those offered to MC Supervisors and Maintenance Controllers.
In determining the proper craft or class for a group of employees, the Board considers a number of factors. These factors include functional integration, work classifications, terms, and conditions of employment, and work-related community of interest. Continental Airlines, Inc./Continental Express, Inc., 26 NMB 143 (1999); Comair, Inc., 22 NMB 175 (1995); MarkAir, Inc., 22 NMB 1 (1994). The factor of work-related community of interest is particularly important. Continental Airlines, above; LSG Lufthansa Services, Inc., 25 NMB 96 (1997); Airborne Express, Inc., 9 NMB 115 (1981). The NMB makes craft or class determinations on a carrier by carrier basis, in view of Board policy and precedent. USAir, 15 NMB 369 (1988); Simmons Airlines, 15 NMB 124 (1988).
The Board has included classifications other than mechanics in the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class. US Airways, 28 NMB 350 (2000) (Quality Assurance Consultants); United Parcel Service Company, 27 NMB 3 (1999) and Allegheny Airlines, Inc., 26 NMB 487 (1999) (Maintenance Controllers); US Airways, 26 NMB 359 (1999) (Maintenance Operations Control Supervisors); Pacific Southwest Airlines, 14 NMB 10 (1986) (Flight Simulator Technicians); U.S. Air, 8 NMB 524 (1981) (Technical Specialists); Allegheny Airlines, Inc., 6 NMB 359 (1977) (Planners and Technical Specialists); World Airways, Inc., 7 NMB 420 (1980) (Maintenance Training Instructor, Senior Technical Writer, Technical Writer, Production Planners, Specialist Avionics, and Specialist Sheet Metal); United Airlines, Inc., 6 NMB 252 (1977) (Meteorologists). These "related" employees, while having different skills than the mechanics, nonetheless, are closely related to the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class since they are engaged in a common maintenance function. United Airlines, Inc., 6 NMB 134 (1977). See also Federal Express Corporation, 20 NMB 360 (1993).
In recent determinations, the Board found that individuals who perform functions similar to those performed by Airtran's Maintenance Controllers are part of the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class. Mesaba Airlines, 26 NMB 227 (1999); US Airways, 26 NMB 359 (1999); Allegheny Airlines, Inc., 26 NMB 487 (1999). See also Aerovias de Mexico, 20 NMB 584 (1993).
AirTran's MC Supervisors and Maintenance Controllers are paid hourly and enjoy nearly identical benefits as the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class. MC Supervisors and Maintenance Controllers hold an FAA Mechanic Certificate with airframe and powerplant ratings just like Mechanics and Inspectors.
MC Supervisors and Maintenance Controllers support, control, coordinate, hire aircraft maintenance contractors, release aircraft from maintenance and generally direct the maintenance of AirTran's fleet. This is work traditionally performed by the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class.
AirTran has asserted that MC Supervisors are management officials. This claim is not supported by the evidence. MC Supervisors' and Maintenance Controllers' position descriptions and vacancy announcements establish that the positions are, for the most part, similar. The Maintenance Controllers' position description states that Maintenance Controllers report to the Manager of Maintenance Control and not to an MC Supervisor. The MC Supervisor's position description states that the MC Supervisors perform "the duties of Maintenance Controller as required" and they report to the Manager of Maintenance Control, as well. Moreover, both position descriptions, coupled with work place practices, establish that MC Supervisors and Maintenance Controllers are cross utilized. The weight of credible evidence also establishes that MC Supervisors do not assign work, approve overtime, discipline, hire, formulate policy, or commit Carrier funds. Therefore, the Board finds that MC Supervisors are not management officials.
The evidence establishes that MC Supervisors and Maintenance Controllers at AirTran perform work traditionally performed by the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class. The Board finds that both positions are properly part of the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class.
AirTran requests an election among the Maintenance Controllers "to determine whether accretion is warranted." In Ross Aviation, Inc., 22 NMB 89 (1994), (Ross), the Board reaffirmed its policy against fragmenting crafts or classes. American Airlines, Inc., 21 NMB 60 (1993); Eastern Air Lines, Inc., 12 NMB 29 (1984); Galveston Wharves, 4 NMB 200 (1962). The Board determined that the creation of a separate craft or class of Aircraft Inspectors would be contrary to established precedent regarding the composition of the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class and would cause fragmentation and instability. Therefore, the Board determined that an election was unnecessary because the employees at issue were already covered by a Board certification and dismissed the organization's application.
The Board has consistently followed the Ross precedent when it finds that particular job functions are traditionally performed by members of a certified craft or class. United Parcel Service Company, 27 NMB 3 (1999); Mesaba Airlines, 26 NMB 227 (1999); United Airlines, Inc., 25 NMB 365 (1998); United Parcel Service, 25 NMB 326 (1998); Long Island Rail Road, 24 NMB 664 (1997). Therefore, the Carrier's request for an election is denied.
CONCLUSION AND DISMISSAL
The Board finds that AirTran's MC Supervisors and Maintenance Controllers are part of the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class. The IBT's application is converted to NMB Case No. R-6841 and dismissed.
By direction of the NATIONAL MEDIATION BOARD.
Stephen E. Crable
Chief of Staff
Mr. Loral Blinde
Mr. Richard Magurno
David Hoffman, Esq.
Mr. Ray Benning
Roland P. Wilder, Jr., Esq.
Mr. John Mays