MEDIATION BOARD STEPS UP PROBE INTO FEDERAL EXPRESS ELECTION

MEDIATION BOARD STEPS UP PROBE INTO FEDERAL EXPRESS ELECTION

The National Mediation Board has intensified its probe into allegations by the Air Line Pilots Association that Federal Express Corp. illegally interfered in last year's union election, an NMB source said.

If the board concurs with ALPA's findings, it may call for a new election, the source said. Federal Express is a non-union company.The board, which oversees labor-management relations in the airline industry, has directed Federal Express and ALPA to furnish unspecified additional data. It has also scheduled meetings with company employees to discuss the situation, according to the source.

Neither ALPA or Federal Express officials could be reached for comment at press time.

The NMB action signals that it views the pilot charges with a great deal of concern, the source said. He would not comment on how long the investigation would last.

Last August, Federal Express' crewmembers rejected union representation by only 23 votes. Soon after, ALPA charged the company with conducting a ''virulent anti-union campaign" that "severely compromised" the organizing process. The NMB launched an investigation in early September.

It is routine for a union to file a complaint after it has lost a representation election. However, most NMB probes don't last six months, the source said.

In addition, the board has never certified the results of the election at Federal Express.

In its complaint, ALPA charged that Frederick W. Smith, Federal Express chairman, engaged in coercion by linking union representation with the prospects for poor economic performance.

A month before the election, Mr. Smith told crews that ALPA's presence on Federal Express property could stifle flexibility, harm its ability to compete in the marketplace and lead to "mediocrity" and "acrimony" at the company.