After rejecting a union 3 years ago, Virgin America flight attendants change mind and unionize

IndustriesAssociated Press

Flight attendants at Virgin America voted in favor of union representation, according to election results announced Wednesday. They become the first group of union workers at the airline based in Burlingame, California, near San Francisco.

Prior efforts to unionize the flight attendants at Virgin America failed, with 59 percent rejecting a union in 2011. In this summer's election, 58 percent voted to join the Transport Workers Union of America. There were 430 flight attendants voting in favor, 307 against and 91 abstaining, according to the union.

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The union also represents flight attendants at Southwest Airlines and Allegiant Air, ground workers at Southwest and American Airlines, mechanics at American and flight dispatchers at most U.S. airlines.

On July 28, the airline filed paperwork saying it soon planed an initial public offering of shares.

Virgin America started flights in 2007 out of its two bases of Los Angeles and San Francisco. Customers have consistently given it high marks for service but since 2009 it has lost about $370.5 million. The airline carried 6.3 million passengers last year, less than one percent of the total passengers that flew on U.S. airlines.

The company licenses the Virgin brand name from the Virgin Group, which was started by businessman Sir Richard Branson. The Virgin Group's parent company, VX Holdings, has a 22.1 percent stake in Virgin America.

The union says negotiations for a first contract will begin in the fall.


Scott Mayerowitz can be reached at