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Virgin America Flight Attendants Vote in Union

The votes are in, and 58 percent of Virgin America’s flight attendants have raised their hands in favor of joining the Transportation Workers Union.

With the vote, Virgin America loses its distinction as the only non-union major U.S. carrier. It’s a significant turnaround: The airline voted against tying up with the TWU in December 2011.

The timing is awkward for the airline, which in July filed for an IPO. Although the airline posted a full-year profit in 2013, its first, and improved financial results for the first and second quarters of 2014, the prospect of increased labor costs typically associated with collective bargaining is likely to be viewed negatively by financial analysts and investors.

Unionization, especially by customer-facing workers, may also be a red flag for Virgin America flyers. If flight attendants are dissatisfied with their current working conditions, as a vote to unionize would suggest, it’s just a short step from low morale to indifferent customer service.

According to the TWU’s press release, “With this vote, flight attendants will have a say on how to further improve Virgin along with their own work lives. This is a chance to make the airline better for both customers and workers.” Encouraging words. The airline’s passengers can only hope they turn out to be true.

Reader Reality Check

Do you expect the unionization of Virgin America’s flight attendants to affect the airline’s customer-service levels?

This article originally appeared on

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