It was only last February that a much-ballyhooed drive to
organize retailers sputtered and ground to a halt, leaving behind a
bagful of promises and, as one would-be organizer once put it,
visions of "enthusiastic cadres of agents in various parts of the
Two of the individuals who were much involved in that abortive
movement -- Frank Randazzo, formerly of a Pennsylvania travel
agency, and Blake Fleetwood, co-owner of New York-based Planetarium
Travel -- again are beating the drums of solidarity on behalf of
their brothers and sisters in the trade.
This time around they say they will call for a boycott "against
a major airline" by the end of the year in a bold thrust to reverse
the depredations of commission cuts and caps. That's pretty strong
talk, and maybe a bit foolhardy, too.
A labor lawyer hired by ASTA and the Coalition for Travel
Industry Parity last fall warned that an agent union organized for
the purpose of negotiating airline commissions would be illegal
under current law.
And Paul Ruden, ASTA staff senior vice president of legal and
industry affairs, is quoted as saying "Nothing has changed."
Randazzo, who is vice president of administration of the Travel
Agents Guild, said he is contacting several thousand potential
members who expressed interest in joining last time.
It might be prudent for any agents so buttonholed to think long
and hard before sewing on this particular union label. A bargaining
group that purports to represent both employees and employers, as
this one hopes to do, treads uncharted and tricky ground when
members' interests conflict over such sticky issues as wages and
Adding airlines to the mix will not make it any easier.