Airline workers reject union, stock price surges

Wednesday, air carrier Continental Airlines, Inc. said its field service employees, which included ramp, operations, and cargo agents, rejected the representation from the Transport Workers Union of America, or TWU, to organize them.

In the after-hours trading, the company's stock rose 8.51%, following a gain of 5.38% to $18.80 on a volume of 8.44 million shares during Wednesday's regular trading.

Quoting the Houston, Texas-based airline, AP reported that out of the 7,660 eligible voters, only 3,517 workers voted for the TWU. This was 314 short of the winning majority required by the union. The election, which began in December and concluded on Wednesday, was the third in the series of rejections by the Continental workers. In 2006, the TWU could only rally 3,300 votes, falling short by about 300 votes for the majority needed for approval. In 2005 also, the TWU had lost by a narrow margin. Prior to that, the Teamsters and the International Association of Machinists had failed in their efforts.

The report quoted TWU President James Little as saying overwhelming majority of workers voted in favor of the union, but the turnout was below 50% required for the union to win under federal law. During the campaign, the TWU had argued that ground workers would have more leverage to recover pay cuts of nearly 10% in 2005 if the union represented them in contract negotiations. Last year, the ground workers received only 2% raises.

Bill Meehan, senior vice president airport services, said, "Once again, we are pleased that our co-workers recognized the value of our direct working relationship. We'll continue to work together to honor the commitments and promises we've made and maintain our culture of trust and success."


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