A federal appeals court has ruled against American Airlines parent company AMR, which tried to block a union election among nearly 10,000 employees.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans overturned a district court judge's ruling in American's favor. The appeals court said Wednesday that the judge didn't have grounds to invalidate a federal panel's decision to schedule an election among American's passenger-service agents.
The Communications Workers of America said the ruling paves the way for an election on its bid to represent the agents. The ruling is also a victory for the National Mediation Board, which decides whether to hold union-representation elections.
American did not have an immediate comment.
American sued the mediation board in May. It argued that the union didn't gather enough signed cards from employees to qualify for an election under new rules approved by Congress.
Until this year, unions needed to gather cards from 35 percent of affected workers to call an election. In February, Congress raised the standard to 50 percent. The CWA had applied for an election in December, but the mediation board didn't grant a vote until after Congress changed the rules.
The mediation board determined that the union had support from at least 35 percent of the affected workers. American argued that the board should have required support from 50 percent, and that if several hundred laid-off workers were included, the union would have fallen below 35 percent as well.
In June, a federal district judge in American's headquarters town of Fort Worth, Texas, ruled in the airline's favor, saying 50 percent should have been the rule.
The case was closely watched by labor and business groups. Leading Democrats in Congress weighed in, asking AMR Corp.'s American Airlines to let the election go ahead.