Dem lawmakers press United to 'respect' catering workers' push to unionize

Dem lawmakers press United to 'respect' catering workers' push to unionize

A group of Democratic lawmakers on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is pressing United Airlines to respect its catering employees’ attempts to unionize.

In a letter sent on Monday, the lawmakers urge United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz to “respect” the employees’ choice to form a labor union, adding that they “will continue to monitor this situation closely.” 

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“We are aware of allegations that United Airlines managers have questioned, intimidated, and retaliated against these catering workers as they have engaged in protected union activities at the workplace,” the committee members wrote.

“We call on you to examine these allegations and take the necessary steps to stop them.”

Committee ranking member Peter DeFazioPeter Anthony DeFazioProgressives poised to shape agenda if Dems take back House Transportation Department watchdog to examine airplane cabin evacuation standards House passes bipartisan water infrastructure bill MORE (D-Ore.) signed the letter, in addition to 16 other Democrats on the House panel.

The letter echoed a note earlier this month from a group of Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Democratic members, who also encouraged Munoz to respect the employees’ push.

The Chicago Business Journal earlier this year reported that more than 2,000 United catering employees had filed to the National Mediation Board for an election to unionize.

But the lawmakers in the two letters reference reports that the airline has tried to impede employees’ attempts to form the union.

“[W]e sincerely encourage you to respect the right of the catering workers to organize and form a union,” said the House lawmakers, who also noted that the catering workers are the only faction of United’s “direct non-managerial employees” not part of a union.

The letters follow a separate public image problem for United after a dog died in an overhead bin during one of its flights earlier this month.

That incident lead to a push from lawmakers to protect pets in air travel, including the introduction of a bipartisan bill from Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) that calls on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to establish rules to block airlines from placing animals in overhead bins and impose civil fines when those rules are violated.