American Airlines agents unionize: Biggest union win in the South in decades


In ballots counted Sept. 16, American Airlines customer service agents voted overwhelmingly to unionize. The tally was 9,640 to 1,547, meaning that unionization had the support of 86 percent of the workers voting. Ballots were counted by the National Mediation Board, the federal agency that oversees union elections in airlines and railroads.

The workers now become part of a 14,500-member bargaining unit represented jointly by Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the Teamsters. The unit consists of staff at check-in counters and boarding gates as well as reservation agents, including 2,300 who work from home. Three-fourths of the agents work in Texas, North Carolina, Florida and Arizona. It’s the largest union organizing victory in the South in decades.

The vote stemmed from the 2013 merger of US Airways into American Airlines. US Airways agents were already unionized, but the much larger group of American Airlines agents were not, despite union campaigns going back 19 years. US Airways agents joined CWA in 2000, and America West agents joined the Teamsters in 2004. When America West merged into US Airways in 2005, CWA and the Teamsters joined forces to create the Airline Customer Service Employee Association, CWA-IBT.


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