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Union asks city to nag Allegiant, gets cold shoulder

By Corene Brisendine

The Transport Workers Union has tried to enlist Manhattan city officials for help in its battle against Allegiant Airlines.

Allegiant is scheduled to begin service between Manhattan and Phoenix this Thursday.

City manager Ron Fehr said the union had contacted him, and asked the city to alter the contract between Allegiant to include a clause that required the airline to use union workers on its flights.

“They were asking us to intervene, and we said, ‘No,’ ” Fehr said. “We already have a signed agreement with Allegiant, and we wouldn’t interfere with an employee issue anyway. That’s something that isn’t appropriate for us to get into or comment on.”

Mayor John Matta said the union has contacted him within the last few weeks, as well, but he would not elaborate on the communication.

Commissioner Rich Jankovich said that it is normal for unions to contact as many people as possible to get their case heard, but that doesn’t mean everyone will take a side in the dispute.

Jankovich said it is unfortunate Manhattan has been put in the middle of the labor argument between Allegiant and the union.

“It’s unfortunate that we have the new air services coming in and [the union officials] are dampening it on our end,” Jankovich said. “But they need to do what they need to do. It’s just unfortunate on our end.”

City officials don’t know what affect the union’s fight will have on the service from Manhattan to Phoenix, but said they hope it won’t hurt business.

“I certainly hope not,” Matta said when asked if Allegiant’s new service would be disrupted. “It would be counter-productive if anything like that happens.”

Rep. Sydney Carlin, D-Manhattan, said she supports unions in general, even though she did not know the details of the Allegiant dispute while in Manhattan Friday for the groundbreaking ceremony for the airport expansion.

However, Carlin said she hoped the airline and the union reach an agreement that’s satisfactory to both sides.

Kansas is a “right-to-work” state – meaning workers are not required to join a union at their place of employment, even if a union has a contract with a Kansas employer.

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