In the Matter of the
alleging a representation dispute
pursuant to Section 2, Ninth,
involving employees of
29 NMB No. 9
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 "Line Maintenance Supervisors" employees of AirTran Airways, Inc. (AirTran or Carrier). The IBT is the certified representative of the AirTran Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class. AirTran Airways, Inc., 23 NMB 330 (1996). The IBT asserts that Line Maintenance Supervisors are part of the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class.
The Board assigned Mary L. Johnson as the Investigator.
For the reasons discussed below, the Board finds that Line Maintenance Supervisors are included in the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class. Therefore, the application is dismissed.
On August 23, 2001, the IBT filed an application alleging a representation dispute among Line Maintenance Supervisors at AirTran. The IBT requested that the Board accrete these employees into the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class.
On September 19, 2001, the Carrier and the IBT filed position statements, and the IBT provided supplementary information on September 24, 2001.
Should AirTran's Line Maintenance Supervisors be included in the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class, or are they management officials?
The IBT's position statement supports its application for accretion as follows:
The Board has uniformly determined that airline employees who perform work similar to AirTran's Line Maintenance Supervisors are part of the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class. AirTran's Line Maintenance Supervisors share a work-related community of interest with Mechanics and Related Employees. Many of the Line Maintenance Supervisors' duties and responsibilities are identical or substantially equivalent to those of AirTran's Mechanics and Related Employees. Since AirTran's Line Maintenance Supervisors 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.
The Line Maintenance Supervisors are subordinate officials who 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. It is only since the Organization filed its application, Carrier officials have told Line Maintenance Supervisors that they do have the authority.
For all these reasons, Line Maintenance Supervisors are within the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class.
AirTran states as follows:
Line Maintenance Supervisors do not belong in the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class because they are management officials. The Line Maintenance Supervisors assign work, discipline employees, are involved in the hiring and firing process, commit Carrier funds, and authorize overtime.
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
Line Maintenance Supervisor Position Description
AirTran's Line Maintenance Supervisor position description reads,
(a) Manages and coordinates the workload for . . . assigned shift. [Assigns] work to the maintenance technician and supervises maintenance activities during his shift. Ensures tools, equipment and material are adequate for assigned workload.
(b) Is familiar with and ensures compliance with the policies and procedures contained within the company's General Maintenance Manual.
(c) Ensures . . . subordinates use proper procedures, methods and practices in the performance of their duties.
(d) Reviews all maintenance records and material requests generated on . . . shift to ensure they are completed correctly and accurately.
(e) Ensures that all maintenance is performed in accordance with FAR requirements, AirTran's policies and procedures, or an accepted standard recognized by the industry.
(f) Ensures the proper review and disposition of aircraft, MEL and CDL log/items including the aircraft airworthiness.
(g) Provides, supervises and documents on-the-job training for maintenance personnel on his shift.
(h) Conducts pre and post Shift Turnovers with the Shift Managers, Maintenance Control and the Technicians assigned to him.
(i) Establishes and sets crew priorities for work to be performed and monitors it for progression during the assigned shift.
(j) Maintains constant communication with Maintenance Control or the Maintenance Coordinator on work progress and aircraft.
(k) Evaluates crew training and experience. Schedules Technicians for training as required.
(l) Completes Shift Turnover and Aircraft Status forms as required per AirTran's GMM.
(m) Ensures the Technicians are in compliance with AirTran's Safety Program.
The following are requirements when a Supervisor acts as a Maintenance Coordinator/Desk Supervisor in Atlanta:
(a) Maintains constant communication with Maintenance Control.
(b) Accepts and coordinates inbound aircraft communication.
(c) Accepts and coordinates communication from other departments.
(d) Maintains Atlanta delay information and inputs into CMS for his assigned shift.
(e) Maintains the Aircraft Out-of-Service Reports for Atlanta on his assigned shift.
(f) Reviews work assignments with the Shift Manager and Supervisors. Schedules the assignments to the Maintenance Supervisor. Adjusts the work assignments as required.
(g) Identifies and coordinates aircraft material requirements with Stores.
(h) Tracks the estimated time of completion of the aircraft provided by the Supervisors. Updates Maintenance Control.
(a) Holds a current FAA Mechanic Certificate with both Airframe and Powerplant ratings for at least three (3) years.
(b) At least two (2) years diversified maintenance experience on large aircraft with an air carrier, commercial operator or certified repair station.
(c) Has both good written and verbal communications skills.
AirTran submitted declarations from two Carrier officials in support of its position.
Dan Hancher, General Manager for Base Maintenance, asserts:
AirTran's maintenance supervisor's have the authority to hire, fire and discipline line mechanics, or to recommend the same. In terms of hiring, the supervisors regular [sic] conduct initial and follow-up interviews of prospective employees, and are responsible for recommending whether to hire such individuals. These recommendations are generally followed . . . .
[I]t is the supervisor's responsibility to investigate any violations of company policy and procedure, and to recommend and impose any disciplinary action that may result from such violations. . . . With regards to imposing disciplinary action, although the Maintenance supervisors do not regularly issue and impose the final disciplinary action, they not only have the authority to do so, but have actually imposed such action in the past.
Hancher also states that the supervisors handle the initial investigation of grievances, and "have the authority to issue letters of disciplinary intent, which they occasionally do." In addition, Hancher asserts that the supervisors participate "in the final decision-making process as well as occasionally rendering the Company's final decision." Finally, Hancher states that the supervisors commit carrier funds, and authorize overtime.
Attached to Hancher's declaration is an April 2000 letter from a Tampa supervisor to a mechanic regarding failure to comply with Carrier procedures.
Leslie Dolvin, AirTran's Manager of Administration and Labor Relations, also submitted a declaration. Among the Attachments to Dolvin's declaration are:
Supervisors receive different benefits, are on a separate pay scale, and have different work schedules than mechanics. According to the Carrier, with the exception of training and emergencies, supervisors do not perform line maintenance work.
Line Maintenance Supervisor Statements
Five Line Maintenance Supervisors submitted declarations in support of the IBT's position. The declarants state that their general duty "is to support Mechanics with technical and hands-on assistance . . . equivalent to lead mechanics on other airlines." The Supervisors assert that they work along side mechanics and perform aircraft maintenance. According to the Supervisors, there are two levels of managers above them in the maintenance department, a Shift Manager and the Manager of Maintenance.
The Supervisors also assert that they have no "independent authority" to discipline or terminate. The supervisors allege that since the IBT's August 22, 2001 application, "Carrier officials have verbally indicated to Line Maintenance Supervisors that they do have the authority to discipline and terminate employees and have even attempted to involve Line Maintenance Supervisors in the disciplinary process."
The Supervisors deny participating in hiring and deny participating in the grievance process. In addition, they assert that they cannot authorize overtime. The Supervisors also deny having authority to commit Carrier funds.
Article 20 of the collective bargaining agreement covering AirTran's Mechanics and Related Employees provides that the first step in the grievance process is the employee's supervisor.
Commit Carrier Funds
Line Maintenance Supervisors make material requests. The Carrier has provided examples of such purchases, ranging from $153 to $1,150.
The evidence establishes that AirTran's Line Maintenance Supervisors perform work in support of the Carrier's Maintenance function, which is work traditionally performed by the Mechanics and Related Employees craft or class. See, e.g., United Airlines, Inc., 28 NMB 5 (2001).
Manual Section 5.312 details factors to be considered in a determination of whether an individual is a management official. These elements include:
[W]hether the involved individual has the authority to discharge and/or discipline employees or to effectively recommend the same; the extent of supervisory authority; the ability to authorize and grant overtime; the authority to transfer and/or establish assignments; the authority to create carrier policy; the authority and the extent to which carrier funds may be committed; whether the authority exercised is circumscribed by operating and policy manuals; the placement of the individual in the organizational hierarchy of the carrier; and any other relevant factors regarding the individual's duties and responsibilities.
See also Pan American World Airways, Inc., 5 NMB 112, 115 (1973) (the factors the Board examines are considered cumulatively) . The Board has previously determined that "while there are certain factors indicating some level of authority, when all factors are viewed cumulatively the individuals at issue generally are first-line supervisors, not management officials." USAir, Inc., 24 NMB 38, 41 ( 1996) (citing Comair, 22 NMB 175 (1995); American International Airways, Inc. d/b/a/ Connie Kalitta Services, 20 NMB 93 (1992); Challenge Air Cargo, 18 NMB 103 (1990); USAir, 17 NMB 117 (1990); Tower Air, Inc., 16 NMB 338 (1989); Northwest Airlines, 15 NMB 64 (1987)).
Recently, in AirTran Airways, Inc., 28 NMB 603 (2001), the Board found the Carrier's Maintenance Controller Supervisors were not management officials. The decision was based on "the weight of credible evidence" which established that the Supervisors did not "assign work, approve overtime, discipline, hire, formulate policy, or commit Carrier funds." above at 619-20.
A comparison of the position descriptions in this determination with those in AirTran, above, indicates many similar functions. However, in this case there is evidence that Line Maintenance Supervisors commit small amounts of Carrier funds, approve vacation requests, and are the first step in the grievance process.
The Carrier asserts that the Line Maintenance Supervisors have responsibilities similar to those of the Maintenance Supervisors in American Airlines, Inc., 24 NMB 521 (1997), who the Board found were management officials. American's Maintenance Supervisors directed and assigned work through a crew chief and regularly exercised the authority to discipline employees. These individuals were also involved in the hiring process, could grant or deny grievances, authorize and grant overtime, and participate in the budget process.
The weight of credible evidence in this case does not establish that AirTran's Line Maintenance Supervisors are management officials. There is no evidence that these individuals commit large amounts of Carrier funds, or formulate Carrier policy. There is insufficient undisputed evidence that they can authorize overtime, hire, or fire. There are two layers of supervision above the Supervisors within the Maintenance Department. While there are some indicia of managerial status, when the Board considers the evidence cumulatively, it finds that AirTran's Line Maintenance Supervisors are not management officials.
CONCLUSION AND DISMISSAL
The Board finds that AirTran's Line Maintenance Supervisors are not management officials. These employees share a work-related community of interest with Mechanics and Related Employees and are, therefore, covered by the IBT's certification. The IBT's application is converted to NMB Case No. R-6852 and dismissed.
By direction of the NATIONAL MEDIATION BOARD.
Stephen E. Crable
Chief of Staff
Mr. Richard P. Magurno
David M. Brown, Esq.
Mr. Ray W. Benning
Roland P. Wilder, Jr., Esq.
Mr. John Mays