Nation's largest airlines sue LAX over new labor friendly rules

Airlines for America, the trade group representing the nation's largest airlines, sued Los Angeles International Airport on Thursday in federal court in Los Angeles. 

I'm pursuing the story for my employer, Aviation Week, so you'll have to subscribe to get my full analysis. But here's the gist of the suit, according to the Airlines for America press release:

The leading airline trade association and a consortium of airline service providers at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) filed a federal lawsuit today against the operator of LAX, asserting that a new requirement for airline service providers to reach agreements with labor unions is unconstitutional and a violation of federal law.

I covered this extensively at my last job. In May, LAX instituted new rules governing many of the contractors who conduct business at the airport. Workers for these contractors perform tasks such as baggage handling, aircraft cleaning, wheelchair pushing and aircraft marshaling. It's more complicated than this, but airlines and their contractors believe LAX instituted the new rules in order promote unionization. They say the new rules are illegal under federal law. 

Len Sloper heads a trade group of airline contractors who conduct business at LAX. His group joined Airlines for America in the lawsuit. Here's what Loper said in the release announcing the suit:

“Ultimately, individual service providers and their employees should be the ones to choose whether to be represented by organized labor – it shouldn’t be forced upon them by the City.  We believe our members and their employees should have the right to make that decision.”

For more background on this issue, read my story from May in which I predicted a lawsuit would be coming. 

If you're wondering about the legal angle here, Airlines for America says local authorities do not have the right to institute such rules. 

"Creating a patchwork of conflicting local labor regulations inappropriately interferes with airlines’ ability to manage their operations and LAX," Rob DeLucia, vice president for labor and employment at Airlines for America, said in a release. "This proposal unnecessarily harms airlines and the customers we serve by limiting competition, adding complexity and ultimately increasing the cost of air travel.”

Here's the complaint:


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