Virgin America flight attendants, represented by the Transport Workers Union (TWU), rejected their first tentative agreement. With 88% participation, 490 out of 905 flight attendants voted against the deal. This would have been the first contract for Virgin America flight attendants following TWU’s certification in 2014.
This news comes as the Department of Justice (DOJ) continues to review the potential acquisition of Virgin by Alaska. Alaska has three times the number of flight attendants and it is expected that the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) will become the representative of the combined group after the merger.
In the meantime, after initially withholding its support of the merger, IAM reversed course after Alaska agreed to honor its “date-of-entry into classification” seniority integration policy. As a nine-year company, Virgin America employees generally have less seniority than Alaska employees. IAM represents the approximately 3,000 above- and below-wing agents, office clerical, and stores employees at Alaska.
IAM opposed the Delta-Northwest merger and eventually lost elections to represent 5 post-merger groups, including above- and below-wing agents, flight simulator technicians, stock and stores, and office clerical.
Alaska announced that it expects to close the deal early in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, the DOJ has received an extension to complete its review after expressing concerns that the combination may undermine competition in some markets.