American Airlines to Appeal Union Vote to Supreme Court - U.S. Fifth Circuit
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American Airlines to Appeal Union Vote to Supreme Court

Between its bankruptcy restructuring and union battles, American Airlines is keeping its lawyers busy.

In June, the struggling airline won a federal court order temporarily blocking its passenger-service employees from conducting a union representation election, Bloomberg reports. District Judge Terry Means ruled that American was likely to succeed on its claim that the election violated labor laws because the union's request for the election in December 2011 met a then-applicable employee-interest standard of 35 percent; the threshold was raised to 50 percent, effective immediately, in February before the National Mediation Board ordered the vote.

In October, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision, finding that judicial review of NMB decisions -- pursuant to the exception the Supreme Court carved out in Leedom v. Kyne -- is only appropriate where there is a "plain violation of an unambiguous and mandatory provision of the statute." The appellate court found that the Leedom v. Kyne exception was not applicable on the facts of the case, and that the district court erred in exercising jurisdiction.

American, clearly unhappy with that decision, filed a notice of appeal with the Fifth Circuit last week. The airline is appealing the ruling to the Supreme Court, and wants the appellate court to stay its union vote mandate pending the appeal. That would prevent the Board from proceeding with the election sought by the Communications Workers of American, The Dallas Morning News reports.

Currently, the NMB is holding the representation vote between 11:01 pm CST Dec. 4 to 1 pm CST Jan. 15, when the board is scheduled to count the votes.

American Airlines has indicated it will file its appeal by December 13. Since the Supreme Court's last conference day for the year is December 7, a stay would delay the union vote until at least January.

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