Some Delta Air Lines flight attendants want their own union
Most airlines in the United States have union representation for their flight attendants. Delta Air Lines currently does not. But the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) is working to democratically change the employer-employee relationship.
Due to the Railway Labor Act which also applies to airline employment, the task facing flight attendants is a difficult one – namely, sending over 11,000 physical agent cards individual flight attendants spread over the Delta Air Lines network signed in one year to the National Labor Board. Once the National Labor Council verifies the cards, all Delta Air Lines flight attendants will be able to vote on whether or not to allow the AFA to represent their interests. The AFA website for these organizing efforts is deltaafa.org.
Delta Pilots union support
In a July 13, 2022 podcast episode, the ALPA Chapter of Delta Pilots interviewed Sara Nelson to discuss pilot support for flight attendant unionization. One of the issues was the perception that in contract negotiations, Delta management would play on pilot collective bargaining against unrepresented flight attendants. Another problem was, according to Sara Nelson, the perception that airlines were directing their finances where aircraft orders, airport improvements and stock buybacks were more important priorities than employee compensation. For Sara Nelson, the goal of the AFA is to,
Demand that more goes to workers and customers elsewhere. And we can bring the public with us when we do that together, we’ve seen the public look to flight attendants for leadership in the cabin…and we’ve been able to raise our profile on that.
Additionally, Sara Nelson alleges in the podcast that if enough secret cards are signed and a secret ballot to certify the AFA as the bargaining agent for Delta’s flight attendants takes place – Delta cannot withdraw any amount of past compensation, such as payment for boarding or current salary. In addition, the AFA can negotiate stronger grievance and discipline policies. Nelson also reminded listeners that the AFA is capable of negotiating well with Congress for fair federal aid and regulation if needed.
Hidden costs of not having union representation
Delta AFA also held a town hall on the hidden costs of being non-union. At the October 26, 2021 virtual town hall, according to Dan Akens, a graduate aviation economist from the London School of Economics, Delta Air Lines does not have maximum or minimum scheduled hours per month. It is in relation to the airlines represented by the AFA that do so. In the words of Akens;
So if you look at how unfair it is to have infinite hours available in a month from every flight attendant, the company also guarantees flight attendants less minimum than other carriers. So on the one hand when they want you to work, they can work as much as they want. On the other hand, when you need to get a minimum warranty, guess what Delta does. There’s no flight attendant voice here, you know, bargain for it.
Akens also prepared this slide on insurance offers in the YouTube video:
Assuming this AFA slide is correct, Delta offers less insurance to its flight attendants. Chart:
Insurance offers are important, especially short-term and long-term disability insurance. It should be noted that flight attendants must be fit enough to be able to swim.
Akens also reviewed U.S. Department of Transportation US airline salary data for 2019. The graphs above show where the relative average salary of Delta Air Lines flight attendants stands compared to their peers in the United States. American airlines, the greater their amount of work.
Examples of arguments against unionization
For the sake of balance, the YouTube video above is also shared regarding the dissenting view of a Delta Air Lines flight attendant. It appears Lori worked for Spirit Airlines based on her comments collaborated by a July 11, 2022 statement from Delta Air Lines.
The Delta Air Lines website onefutureonedelta.com, which opposes the latest unionization effort, was also scrutinized. The company claims on this website that,
Backed by our culture of collaboration, flight attendants have been delivering the Delta difference for generations. You do it for each other and for our customers, and that’s why – from day one – our flight attendants deserve the industry’s leading package of compensation, benefits and flexible work rules. industry provided by Delta.
Additionally, in an undated open letter to flight attendants co-signed by the Director of Customer Experience, Director of Human Resources, Senior Vice President of Inflight Services and two Vice Presidents of Field Operations in flight, a call has been made that the airline’s “direct relationship” with flight attendants is a competitive advantage. Quoting directly from the undated letter:
Our people-focused values, coupled with our agility and persistence, are what define the Delta difference. Our direct relationship accelerates it. Although we are not perfect – no company is – we are always working together to be better and find the best way to keep climbing.
Simple Flying will be at the Farnborough Airshow next week. For all the latest news from the show, click here!
Delta flight attendants have important business and business decisions to make in the coming year. Photo: Delta Airlines
Ultimately, the decision to unionize is up to Delta Air Lines flight attendants alone. For flight attendants, this is an economic and working condition decision and it is hoped that they can independently research aviation websites on the working conditions of other airlines.
Would you consider Simple Flying and this story a good resource for deciding whether or not to unionize? Be courteous in our comments.