Vote Brings 19,000 United Employees into Labor Union

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Byline: Mike Comerford Daily Herald Business Writer

In an action heralded as a boost to the labor movement nationally, United Airlines' nearly 19,000 passenger service and reservations agents voted Friday to unionize.

An estimated 53 percent of the employees from across the country voted to join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

It was the largest airline election in the National Mediation Board's history and the largest private-sector win in more than two decades, according to union officials.

"This election reflects the new spirit of today's labor movement," said Machinists President R. Thomas Buffenbarger in a press release. "Facing unfair conditions in one of America's biggest companies, a group of determined individuals worked hard, stuck together and won the largest airline organizing drive in history."

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney also praised the victory as good for all unions.

United President John Edwardson congratulated the union and said "we will work with the IAM closely and cooperatively to negotiate a fair and equitable contract. …