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Virgin America flight attendants vote for union

Flight attendants at Virgin America voted on Wednesday (Aug 13) to form a union, the first workers to organise at the seven-year-old US affiliate of Virgin Atlantic airline.

WASHINGTON: Flight attendants at Virgin America voted on Wednesday (Aug 13) to form a union, the first workers to organise at the seven-year-old US affiliate of Virgin Atlantic airline.

The vote, with about 58 percent voting in favour, brought organised labour to the last US airline without a union. The 830 flight attendants will be represented by the Transport Workers Union, which has about 200,000 members in total around the country.

Flight attendants had complained of scheduling inflexibility and overwork, and argued that a union would allow them to strike a better deal with the management.

"We're excited about what this election means for inflight team members," said Los Angeles-based cabin crew member Adam Croteau." We ran a very positive campaign and we believe that we can make positive changes at the airline by giving flight attendants a voice."

Flying between major US cities and to Mexican resorts, Virgin America is US-controlled but 22 percent owned by British tycoon Richard Branson's Virgin group, and it partners with Branson's Virgin Atlantic carrier.

Last month the company filed papers to go public, after having reported its first annual profit in 2013, US$10.1 million (S$12.6 million) on revenues of US$1.4 billion (S$1.7 billion).

"As the airline grows and becomes an increasingly profitable and larger public company, we also want our members to be recognized for their contribution to the airline's success," said Transport Workers Union president Harry Lombardo. "We will now focus on gaining a contract that's fair for our new members."

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