Delta Air Lines Inc. Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson urged flight attendants to keep a direct relationship with the company as the 20,000 workers prepare to begin voting next week on whether to unionize.
There has been “acrimony” at carriers including UAL Corp.’s United Airlines and US Airways Group Inc., whose attendants are represented by the Association of Flight Attendants, Anderson said today during a webcast meeting with employees in Atlanta.
“The track record of the AFA has been quite poor when you look at what it has obtained” at other airlines for $43 per person n monthly dues, Anderson said. A union contract “hasn’t stopped layoffs, hasn’t stopped concessions” at other carriers, he said.
There are 7,000 attendants from Northwest, bought by Delta in 2008, who are represented by the AFA, while their 13,000 Delta peers aren’t unionized.
Anderson said the AFA contract that the pre-merger Northwest attendants are working under is “substantially inferior” to Delta’s current work rules and compensation, and that the company brought other Northwest groups such as mechanics and dispatchers up to Delta pay levels after representation was resolved.
Delta workers will be among the first to vote on unionizing under new U.S. National Mediation Board rules that allow the majority of votes cast to determine the outcome. Previously, abstaining from voting was counted as a “no.”
The AFA has tried to unionize Delta workers in the past, most recently in 2008 when the union received about 40 percent of the vote, falling short of the 50 percent needed. Of those who cast a vote at the time, 99 percent backed the union, meaning that under the new rules, the AFA would win. Voting for Delta attendants starts Sept. 29 and ends Nov. 3.
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