August 10, 2015
By John Quinn
Portland, Oregon – Workers who fix jams in the Portland airport’s baggage conveyor system voted on April 2nd to join the Machinists union. But their employer, ABM Onsite Services, is refusing to negotiate a contract with the unit.
The company has employed a union busting law firm to challenge their right to unionize under the National Labor Relations Act. ABM is claiming the workers fall under the Railway Labor Act. That law makes it much more difficult to win a union campaign. The National Labor Relations Board has already rejected ABM’s argument, and ABM is very likely to lose in the court of appeals, says IAM associate general counsel David Neigus. But it could take a year and a half to get a decision.
Neigus, the IAM attorney, says the Port of Portland could use its influence to get ABM to quit stalling, because it’s a party to the ABM contract. The Port built the baggage conveyor system but turned over its management to a consortium of airlines, which then contracted the work to ABM.
"ABM needs to bargain with them and follow the law,” said Neigus.
The workers wanted to join a union because of their disappointment with the attitude of the company and low salary structure. The workers want better wages, more affordable health insurance, greater job security, improved workplace safety, and an end to inefficient constant policy changes that reduce productivity.