SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Two Salt Lake City-based SkyWest flight attendants and a flight attendant union have filed a lawsuit against SkyWest Airlines, claiming the company wrongfully fired the flight attendants.
The lawsuit claims that Shane Price and Teresa Grange, who have been advocates for a union representation election at SkyWest, were fired after exposing alleged flaws in a voting system. The lawsuit further claims their termination was retaliation and an attempt to suppress, undermine, and interfere with their union organizing efforts. SkyWest, a Utah-based regional airline, said these claims are baseless and without merit.
SkyWest flight attendants currently are represented by the SkyWest Inflight Association (SIA), which SkyWest said provides its flight attendants with the best overall pay and benefits in the regional airline industry. The lawsuit alleges, however, that the SIA was never elected by flight attendants and is “wholly funded” by SkyWest, acting as an extension of management. The lawsuit alleges this violates the Railway Labor Act, which extends to airlines and allows employees to organize as a union without company interference.
“Frustrated by the sham representation,” some SkyWest flight attendants, including Price and Grange, began gathering support to put the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) on the ballot as the union to represent SkyWest attendants.
Everything came to a head, however, during a 2023 election to replace several positions within the SIA. According to the lawsuit, several flight attendants claimed they were unable to vote through the third-party system used in the election. Price reportedly discovered that several employee names and unique codes used for voting were publicly available on the SIA website, which he allegedly confirmed could be used by anyone to submit votes preventing the original employee from voting.
After Price and Grange shared this information on social media, they say they were approached by SkyWest management and later terminated after questioning. The SIA Election process was subsequently canceled, according to the lawsuit, and the SIA website was taken down, now reading “We are working on something awesome!“
SkyWest told ABC4 in a statement both Price and Grange were fired after allegedly admitting to hacking and conspiring to impersonate multiple flight attendants and then publicly disclosing personal employee data for more than 4,000 employees.
A week after Price and Grange were fired from their long-standing positions as SkyWest flight attendants, the AFA sent a letter to SkyWest with a three-day ultimatum: Re-hire Shane Price and Teresa Grange or face legal action.
“Nowhere is it more apparent that SkyWest management controls SIA, despite the Railway Labor Act’s prohibition against management-funded representatives, than terminating Flight Attendants over activity stemming from their desire to act on behalf of their peers to identify grossly inadequate voting procedures with their purported ‘representative,'” AFA Associate General Counsel John Morse wrote.
With legal action, AFA said it would demonstrate the relationship between SIA and SkyWest management, claiming they are “one and the same.”
“Without foundation, [the AFA] accuse SkyWest of retaliating against employees who support their organization. They are clearly mistaken,” a SkyWest spokesperson told ABC4 in a statement. The spokesperson further said they were shocked and disappointed that the AFA would endorse the allegedly illegal activity of Price and Grange. “SkyWest holds every employee to the highest standards of professionalism and does not tolerate this type of behavior from any employee, regardless of their affiliations.”
Taylor Garland, a spokesperson for the AFA refuted the claims of hacking, saying, “The whistleblowers identified that SkyWest Flight Attendant’s personal information was exposed to anyone online and could be vulnerable to manipulation. Union activists Shane [Price] and Teresa [Grange] sounded the alarm to their coworkers about the legitimacy of SIA elections for company union reps. It is against the law for the company to have any role in internal union activity.”
SkyWest also said the SIA is recognized by the U.S. Federal Courts as being in accordance with the Railway Labor Act.
Through their lawsuit, the AFA hopes to reinstate Price and Grange as flight attendants with SkyWest as well as earn compensation for lost wages and benefits.
You can read the full lawsuit, as well as SkyWest’s full statement, below:
The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) has claimed to know the motivations behind two recent employment terminations. Without foundation, they accuse SkyWest of retaliating against employees who support their organization. They are clearly mistaken. The employees they reference were held accountable for admitted hacking, conspiring to impersonate multiple flight attendants, and then publicly disclosing personal employee data for more than 4,000 employees. These actions violated company policy and the law. We are shocked and disappointed that AFA would endorse hacking and illegal activity. SkyWest holds every employee to the highest standards of professionalism and does not tolerate this type of behavior from any employee, regardless of their affiliations. We stand firm in our responsibility to protect the personal, confidential employee data of our more than 13,000 people.
Regarding the other claims, they are baseless and without merit, and we are confident the courts will agree when the facts are recognized. SkyWest has a legally-binding CBA with the SkyWest InFlight Association as recognized by the Federal Courts and in accordance with the Railway Labor Act. The bottom line is that SkyWest flight attendants have the best overall pay and benefits in the regional airline sector, better than those represented by AFA.SkyWest Airlines