In the Matter of the
alleging a representation dispute
pursuant to Section 2, Ninth,
involving employees of
29 NMB No. 2
CASE NO. R-6848
October 11, 2001
This decision addresses an application filed on August 7, 2001, by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) alleging a representation dispute pursuant to 45 U.S.C. § 152, Ninth, among "Tool Room Attendants" at Frontier Airlines, Inc. (Frontier or Carrier). The IBT is certified as the representative of the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class at the Carrier. Frontier Airlines, Inc., 28 NMB 527 (2001). The IBT seeks to accrete the Tool Room Attendants into the craft or class.
For the reasons set forth below, the National Mediation Board (Board) finds that the Tool Room Attendants are already part of the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class, and dismisses the application. The Board also finds that the application constitutes an abuse of the Board's processes. Therefore, the application bar period established in 29 CFR § 1206.4(a) is shortened to 18 months after the IBT's July 30, 2001, certification in Frontier Airlines, Inc., above.
On July 30, 2001, the IBT was certified to represent the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class (Case No. R-6823). Frontier Airlines, Inc., above. On August 1, 2001, the IBT filed an application alleging a representation dispute among Frontier's Tool Room Attendants. The application was supported by an adequate showing of interest among the Tool Room Attendants. The IBT requested that the Board accrete the Tool Room Attendants into the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class. The application was designated NMB File No. CR-6728 and Benetta M. Mansfield was assigned as the Investigator.
The IBT submitted an initial position statement on August 21, 2001. The IBT also provided a copy of the Tool Room Attendant Functions and Responsibilities.
On August 30, 2001, the Carrier responded and, at the request of the Investigator, supplied the Tool Room Attendant job description.
On September 20, 2001, the IBT replied.
Do Tool Room Attendants share a work-related community of interest with the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class? If so, did the IBT abuse the Board's processes by filing this Application two days after the certification of the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class?
The IBT contends that an accretion is appropriate because Tool Room Attendants share a work-related community of interest with Mechanics and Related Employees. The IBT says that the Tool Room Attendants' duties include maintaining accessory equipment and precision tooling for aircraft repair, and the maintenance repair and fueling of ground equipment, including maintenance vehicles. According to the IBT, these duties place Tool Room Attendants in the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class.
The IBT further contends that the employees coordinate their work with the Inspectors who are part of the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class, and that beyond the listed duties, Tool Room Attendants are required to perform any functions required by maintenance management. In response to Frontier's statement that Tool Room Attendants share a work-related community of interest with the Stock and Stores Employees craft or class, the IBT states that the Stock and Stores Employees (Materials Specialists) work in the Maintenance and Engineering Department and serve all the Carrier's internal customers.
The IBT asserts that under the Board's decision in Ross Aviation, Inc., 22 NMB 89 (1994), an accretion election should not be ordered.
The Carrier states that the application should be rejected because there is no showing of interest, and the Tool Room Attendants are not properly part of the Mechanics and Related craft or class.
The Carrier also contends that the IBT fails to explain why the Tool Room Attendants were not included in its original application. The Carrier argues that "the IBT did not want these individuals to vote because it [their votes] could have changed the outcome of the election."
Frontier further states that the Tool Room Attendants are stock and stores employees who should be included in the Stock and Stores Employees craft or class.(1) The Carrier states that any operational overlap between Tool Room Attendants and Mechanics and Related Employees is "superficial." The Tool Room Attendants are not required to have an Aircraft and Power license and do not conduct any actual aircraft maintenance, the Carrier says.
The Carrier contends that if the Board determines an accretion is appropriate, an election should be conducted. Frontier states that "should the Board grant the IBT's request to not hold an accretion election, Frontier contends it would be an arbitrary and capricious decision at best and an illegal government taking at worse."
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:
Frontier 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.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
On May 31, 2001, the IBT filed an application to represent the Mechanics and Related Employees at Frontier. (NMB Case No. R-6823). When the Carrier provided the List of Potential Eligible Voters it did not include the Tool Room Attendants. During the challenge and objection period, the IBT never claimed that the Tool Room Attendants should be included on the list even though the IBT had collected authorization cards from Tool Room Attendants. The ballot count established that out of 233 eligible voters, 134 voted for the IBT. On July 30, 2001, the Board issued a certification to the IBT to represent the Frontier Mechanic and Related Employees craft or class. Frontier Airlines, Inc., 28 NMB 527 (2001).
On August 1, 2001, the IBT filed an application to accrete the Tool Room Attendants into the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class. The IBT provided the accretion application two days after the certification.
The Tool Room Attendants are employed in the Base Maintenance Department. Relevant pages from the Base Maintenance Manual, submitted by the IBT, describes the position as follows:
a. The Tool Room Attendant is responsible and accountable for the every day operation of the Tool Room.
a. Assures that all tooling and machinery are maintained at a level of safety that meets or exceeds the national bureau of standards and/or the manufacturer's specifications.
b. Responsible for all precision tools, gauges, and test equipment used to calibrate, adjust or measure any aircraft components or systems including any and all test and calibration requirements specified in accordance to F.A.R. 121.369 . . . .
c. Maintains and records all borrowed or loaned tooling from various institutions such as Airlines and manufacturers. Procurement of any tooling will be the sole responsibility of the tool room as well as the shipping and handling of returning of same.
d. Repairing and servicing of all tooling when damaged or worn from general use. This includes filling of grease guns, malabars, oil cans, acetone, iso-alcohol, MEK, gas cans, etc. Servicing and repairing of all hydraulic jacks, pneumatic tools, etc.
e. Responsible for assisting and maintaining, in a coordinated effort, with the Inspection Department, a viable shelf life system for the physical Tool Room area, . . . .
f. Requisitioning and acquiring of new tooling, expendables, shop supplies and all materials requested by all maintenance departments including out stations and line maintenance.
g. Reports any and all hazards, real or perceived to Tool Room Supervisor.
h. Maintaining and facilitating any and all maintenance vehicles, including fueling and servicing, repair and general upkeep. Recording and updating vehicle and equipment records.
i. Replenishment of free stock, nitrogen . . . and other materials required by maintenance hangar as well as line maintenance . . . .
j. Performs many other functions as required by the Tool Room Supervisor or maintenance management.
k. Ensures that all hazardous materials used in the tool room are stored and disposed of . . . .
A Tool Room Attendant Position Description, submitted by Frontier at the Investigator's request is similar, although briefer, than the manual description above. Under Qualifications, for example, it lists "two years of experience in airline tool room environment" and "building maintenance experience preferred." Under "Knowledge, Skills and Abilities," it lists "knowledge of shipping/receiving functions, stocking parts and inventory control, tool repair and calibration" and "general mechanical ability."
The Carrier also supplied a job description for the Materials Specialist, a position in the Stock and Stores Employees craft or class. The job description details how the Materials Specialists receive and account for materials, label materials, inspect supplies, and issue supplies. Unlike Tool Room Attendants, Materials Specialists do not work solely with maintenance but "are involved in the cyclical demands of receiving, shipping and issuing of Frontier Airlines assets to the appropriate internal customers." They also do not maintain any vehicles. Finally, Materials Specialists are assigned to the Maintenance and Engineering Department, not Base Maintenance.
I. Proper Craft or Class
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, based upon Board policy and precedent. USAir, 15 NMB 369 (1988); Simmons Airlines, 15 NMB 124 (1988).
The Board has examined the proper scope of the craft or class of Mechanics and Related Employees in numerous decisions. US Airways, 28 NMB 50 (2000); United Parcel Service Company, 27 NMB 3 (1999); Allegheny Airlines, Inc., 26 NMB 487 (1999).
In United Airlines, Inc., 6 NMB 134 (1977) the Board, quoting National Airlines Inc., 1 NMB Det. 423, 428 (1947), described the composition of the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class:
A. Mechanics who perform maintenance work on aircraft, engine, or accessory equipment.
B. Ground service personnel who perform work generally described as follows: Washing and cleaning airplane, engine and accessory parts in overhaul shops, fueling of aircraft and ground equipment, maintenance of ground and ramp equipment, maintenance of buildings, hangars and related equipment, cleaning and maintaining the interior and exterior of aircraft, servicing and control of cabin service equipment, air conditioning of aircraft, cleaning of airport hangars, building, hangar and ramp equipment.
C. Plant maintenance personnel - including employees who perform work consisting of repairs, alterations, additions to and maintenance of buildings, hangars, and the repair, maintenance and operation of related equipment including automatic equipment.
The Board has further stated, "The related employees . . . while of different skill levels from the mechanics, nonetheless are closely related to them in that they are engaged in a common function -the maintenance function." US Airways, above; Federal Express, 20 NMB 360 (1993).
II. The Tool Room Attendants
The position description establishes that Tool Room Attendants share a work-related community of interest with the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class. The Tool Room Attendants work in Base Maintenance, directly service the mechanics and maintain maintenance vehicles. Therefore, the Tool Room Attendants are "plant maintenance personnel." There is little difference in the Tool Room Attendant function and the Utility Mechanic found to be in the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class in Continental Airlines, Inc., 24 NMB 433 (1997). Therefore, the Board finds that a work-related community of interest exists between Frontier's Tool Room Attendants and the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class.
In Ross Aviation, Inc., 22 NMB 89 (1994), after finding an accretion, the Board dismissed the Organization's application, stating that an election was unnecessary because the employees at issue were already covered by Board certification. Since then, the Board has consistently followed this policy when it finds that particular job functions are performed by members of a certified craft or class. United Airlines, Inc., 25 NMB 365 (1998); United Parcel Service, 25 NMB 326 (1998); Long Island Rail Road, 24 NMB 664 (1997).
The Board's broad discretion concerning the manner in which it conducts investigations in representation disputes was upheld in Railway Clerks v. Association for the Benefit of Non-Contract Employees, 380 U.S. 650, 662 (1965). The Court held that, in determining choice of employee representative, the RLA "leaves the details to the broad discretion of the Board with the only caveat that it 'insure' freedom from carrier interference." Above. at 669.
The RLA provides that the Board may "utilize any . . . appropriate method" of determining who may represent employees "without interference, influence, or coercion exercised by the carrier." 45 U.S.C. § 152, Ninth. The Board requires all applications in representation matters to be supported by a showing of interest. Here, the Board investigated the IBT's showing of interest, and is satisfied that the IBT is not forcing representation on the employees without their knowledge or consent.
IV. Abuse of Board Processes
The Board provides an orderly process for the investigation and determination of representation disputes. There is undisputed evidence in this case that the IBT collected authorization cards from the Tool Room Attendants prior to June 22, 2001, the deadline for the IBT to file challenges and objections to the List of Potential Eligible Voters in R-6823. Although the Carrier never included the Tool Room Attendants on the List of Potential Eligible Voters, the IBT never objected to the omission.
Yet, two days after certification, the IBT filed the accretion application.
While the Board finds that the Tool Room Attendants are properly in the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class, the conduct of the IBT, planned or not, is an abuse of the Board's processes. The record establishes that the IBT collected authorizations from Tool Room Attendants prior to the filing deadline for challenges and objections. Yet, the IBT never challenged Frontier's omission of Tool Room Attendants from the List of Potential Eligible Voters. Instead, almost immediately after certification of the IBR's representation of the craft or class, the IBT filed an accretion application. The Board's review of accretion application cases reveals no instance when the authorizations supporting the accretion claim were collected prior to the certification of the craft or class.
As the Board stated in Northwest Airlines, Inc., 26 NMB 269, 300 (1999),
[I]n the future, the Board will take appropriate responsive action against any participant in its representation investigations who attempts to advantage itself in the election process by conduct which exceeds legal and professional standards.
Tool Room Attendants share a work-related community of interest with the Frontier Mechanics and Related Employees. Therefore this position is covered by the IBT's certification in R-6823. The application is converted to NMB Case No. R-6848 and dismissed. The IBT's conduct constitutes abuse of Board processes. Accordingly, the bar period in 29 CFR § 1206.4(a) is reduced 18 months from the July 30, 2001 certification.
By direction of the NATIONAL MEDIATION BOARD.
Stephen E. Crable
Chief of Staff
Mark J. Berumen, Esq.
Ms. Ann Block
Mr. Jeff Potter
Mr. Ray Benning
Roland Wilder, Esq.
Mr. Doug Whetstine
1. The Board is conducting an election among the Carrier's Stock and Stores Employees craft or class in R-6832. The Carrier's Stock and Stores Employees' job title is Materials Specialists.