Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Twa's Labor Skirmishes Take Away Feeling of Union Solidarity

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Twa's Labor Skirmishes Take Away Feeling of Union Solidarity

Article excerpt

Remember all that talk about the fraternity of labor? As in the union anthem, "Solidarity Forever." You know, that brotherhood and sisterhood stuff about labor working together for the common good.

Forget it, at least so far as the workers at Trans World Airlines are concerned.

Somewhat lost in all the confusion about the future of TWA - its balance sheet, its potential marketing or merger partners, its leadership - is a degree of chaos among the unions representing the company's workers. For starters, the flight attendants are being pulled three ways. They're represented by the Independent Federation of Flight Attendants. Last month the employees declined by the barest of margins - 18 votes - to affiliate with the profession's biggest union, the Association of Flight Attendants. Later this month, ballots of the 5,400 attendants will be counted to determine whether they want to be represented by the International Association of Machinists, the biggest union at TWA. AFA is waging a write-in campaign, so attendants will choose among continued independence in their own union or joining one of the other two suitors. If none of the three options gets a majority on Feb. 27, there'll be a run-off. This week Sherry Cooper resigned as IFFA president, the aftermath of her overture months ago to the IAM that sparked an angry split in IFFA's board. Several members felt that Cooper had surreptitiously sought a hostile takeover, which led to an internal IFFA trial of Cooper starting Thursday. IFFA's board, which favored the AFA the first election, now wants IFFA to remain independent. This situation has sparked general confusion and a rift between the two flight attendants' unions and the Machinists. But it was only a warm-up. Now the Machinists seem to be truly at war with the other unions at TWA - the Air Line Pilots Association and the flight attendants - as well as with the company itself. Monday, the IAM took on TWA management and the board - which includes representatives of the various unions - plus the unions. The IAM called for the ouster of TWA's interim chief executive, said it had no confidence in the board and suggested the union would protect the rights not only of mechanics but of pilots and attendants. …

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