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American Airlines workers voting to unionize

In this Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011 photo a Jet Blue jet taxies near an American Airlines jet parked at its gate at Boston’s Logan International Airport. After a decade of multibillion-dollar losses, U.S. airlines appear to be on course to prosper for years to come for a simple reason: They are flying less. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia) / OUTTAKe 0208

In this Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011 photo a Jet Blue jet taxies near an American Airlines jet parked at its gate at Boston’s Logan International Airport. After a decade of multibillion-dollar losses, U.S. airlines appear to be on course to prosper for years to come for a simple reason: They are flying less. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia) / OUTTAKe 0208

American Airlines passenger service agents are voting on whether to form a union, a process that began two years ago and weathered a bankruptcy filing by American and several attempts by the airline to stop the organizing effort by the Communication Workers of America.

About 9,600 passenger service agents who handle tickets and cargo, work in the VIP lounges, and take customer service calls will start voting Tuesday.

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They have until Jan. 15 to vote online or by phone.

About 120 agents at Logan International Airport, plus an additional 20 local workers who were laid off in November but still have voting rights, are participating in the election.

The local workers, along with several community leaders and Boston city councilors, will hold a press conference Tuesday morning at Logan to demand that American obey the law regarding the election.

Bruce Hicks, a spokesman for American, said that after losing a court challenge the airline is encouraging all of its eligible employees to vote.

“What they’re implying is outrageous,” Hicks said.

American Airlines is currently restructuring operations through the bankruptcy process. Most of its workers are unionized.

Katie Johnston can be reached at kjohnston@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @ktkjohnston.
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