The biggest flight attendant union in the United States has filed a federal lawsuit against a regional carrier which operates flights on behalf of American Airlines, Delta and United Airlines over what it claims are “extraordinary violations” of labor law.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Utah on Wednesday by the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) after two veteran crew members at Skywest Airlines were sacked for allegedly exposing serious security flaws with an internal crew representative election.
Despite efforts by AFA-CWA, Skywest flight attendants do not have a formal union, and instead, the airline has set up its own crew representative body called the Skywest Inflight Association, which acts as the sole bargaining representative for the more than 4,000 Skywest flight attendants.
Every few years, the bargaining unit holds elections for certain positions, and the most recent election took place earlier this year. It was during this time, however, that veteran flight attendants Shane Price and Tresa Grange say they exposed alleged security flaws with the voting process.
According to the filed lawsuit, Price discovered that anyone could access the names and voting credentials of flight attendants on a publicly accessible website. The allegations came to light after some flight attendants complained that they weren’t able to vote because their ballot had already been cast.
Price recorded a video of how fraudulent votes on the ballot website could be cast and posted it on social media. The following day, Skywest cancelled the election and shut down the voting website.
A month later, however, Price was met by managers as be deboarded a plane and was ‘interrogated’ over the video. Following the meeting, Price was terminated for unspecified conduct, while Grange was terminated for posting confidential airline information.
Both Price and Grange had been vocal supporters of AFA-CWA’s unionization drive at Skywest.
The lawsuit alleges that Skywest has violated the Railway Labor Act in several areas, including funding the Skywest Inflight Association and terminating Price and Grange without a mechanism for arbitration.
In a statement, the Association of Flight Attendants said crew members at Skywest are “not deterred” in their efforts to form a union and that the campaign has gained momentum following the termination of Price and Grange.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.