OST-98-3858 / Alitalia / Italy-Atlanta All-Cargo / Answer of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers in Opposition / June 2, 1998

 

Application of

ALITALIA-LINEE AEREE ITALIANE-S.p.A. Docket OST-98-3858

for an exemption under 49 U.S.C. 40109

 

ANSWER OF INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MACHINISTS

AND AEROSPACE WORKERS IN OPPOSTTTON TO THE APPLICATION

 

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO ("IAM") hereby strenuously opposes the application of Alitalia-Linee Aeree Italiane-S.p.A. ("Alitalia") for an exemption from 49 U.S.C. 41302 to conduct scheduled foreign air transportation of property and mail between points in Italy and Atlanta, Georgia. As the IAM has repeatedly pointed out, Alitalia has a well -established history of exploiting its U.S. employees contrary to the express statutory policy of 'encouraging fair wages and working conditions." 49 U.S.C. 40101(a)(5). Moreover, Alitalia's employment of permanent replacements and importation of strikebreakers from Italy translates into a grossly unfair competitive advantage over U.S. carriers. Accordingly, the IAM respectfully urges the Department of Transportation to deny Alitalia's application.

 

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The IAM was certified by the National Mediation Board ("NMB11) to represent certain employees of Alitalia over forty years ago and has attempted to maintain a collective bargaining relationship with Alitalia ever since. Nevertheless, for the past decade, Alitalia repeatedly has sought to evade its collective bargaining obligations and to replace represented employees with nonunion workers at substandard wages.

Thus, in IAM v. Alitalia Airlines, 600 F. Supp. 268 (S.D.N.Y. 1984), aff1d, 753 F.2d 3 (2d Cir. 1985), Alitalia was ordered to recognize and bargain with the IAM as the certified representative of Alitalia's fleet service and passenger service employees, after the carrier had effectively attempted to withdraw recognition of the IAM. Similarly, in an arbitration award issued on February 19, 1993, Arbitrator Sands found that Alitalia had violated the parties' collective bargaining agreement by creating non-bargaining unit classifications to do work properly performed by bargaining unit members. Alitalia's long history of evading its obligations under the Railway Labor Act, 45 U.S.C. 151-188, is exceedingly well documented in TAM V. Alitalia Airlines, 600 F. Supp. at 27072.

Indeed, even subsequent to Arbitrator Sands' decision, Alitalia continued to pursue a strategy intended to enable the carrier to avoid its bargaining obligations. During collective bargaining negotiations which commenced with the IAM in June 1990 and continued for more than three years, Alitalia repeatedly demanded the right to contract out all of the cargo-handling work then performed by IAM-represented workers. In addition, even though its employees were already among the lowest paid in the industry, Alitalia insisted upon a ADA reduction in wages. Although the IAM could not accede to such draconian proposals, the union was not unmindful of Alitalia's financial position and presented a number of creative solutions which would have achieved the savings sought by the carrier through other means. However, Alitalia could not be swayed, as the carrier was bent on eliminating its unionized workforce.

Following a declaration of a formal impasse in negotiations in early September 1993, Alitalia locked out IAM members and unilaterally imposed a decision to contract out to low-wage, nonunion contractors the vast majority of work previously performed by IAM-represented employees. Alitalia contracted out its cargo work to nonunion contractors and imported Italian nationals to replace ticket counter employees, permanently replacing approximately 150 IAN members.

Since that time, Alitalia has rebuffed efforts by the U.S. State Department to facilitate further talks. The carrier is currently the target of a boycott by the AFL-CIO.

APPROVAL OF ALITALIA'S APPLICATION

TS CONTRARY TO THE INTEREST.

The Secretary of Transportation is required to consider several factors "as being in the public interest and consistent with public convenience and necessity" when ruling on Alitalia's application. Among these considerations are the statutory goals of "encouraging fair wages and working conditions" and "preventing unfair or anticompetitive practices in air transportation." 49 U.S.C. 40101(a)(5) & (9).

As set forth above, Alitalia has engaged in a continuing campaign to avoid fair wages and working conditions and thereby obtain an unfair competitive advantage over similarly-situated U.S. carriers. Alitalia has worked vigorously for over a decade to eliminate union representation from its U.S. operations. Federal courts and an arbitrator have found respectively that Alitalia's actions were violative of the Railway Labor Act, 45 U.S.C. 1 151, p,t aaZ,,, and of its collective bargaining agreement with the IAN.

Alitalia's flagrant defiance of U.S. labor laws and policies can be directed to no other purpose than to obtain an unfair competitive advantage over U.S. carriers who comply with those laws and policies and maintain fair wages and working conditions. To allow Alitalia to reap the benefits of such conduct would be contrary to the public interest as expressed in 49 U.S.C. S 40101(a).

 

CONCLUSTON

To grant Alitalia's application for exemption from 49 U.S.C. 41302 would be directly adverse to the public interest in encouraging fair wages and working conditions and in preventing unfair and anticompetitive practices in the air transportation industry. For these reasons, the IAM respectfully requests that Alitalia's application for exemption be denied.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Joseph Guerrieri, Jr.

Jeffrey A. Bartos

Guerrieri, Edmond & Clayman, P.C.

1331 F Street, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20004

(Tel)(202) 624-7400

(Fax)(202) 624-7420

June 2, 1998