Flight attendants to appeal narrow loss at Delta


WASHINGTON (PAI) - The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) will appeal its narrow loss in the union recognition vote at the "New Delta" airlines, saying its campaign fell victim to massive management intimidation and Delta's use of computers to track workers' votes, among other things.

In results announced Nov. 3, AFA-CWA received 8,778 votes, or 46.8 percent. of flight attendants at the carrier. The new Delta was formed in 2008 when red-state, virtually non-union, Delta devoured blue-state, wall-to-wall union, Northwest Airlines.

Some 20,000 flight attendants, 8,000 from Northwest, the rest from the old Delta, were eligible to vote.

"No union" received 9,544 votes (50.9%), while other unions not even in the race, including the Teamsters, Transport Workers and Machinists, got 249.

"Valid vote for representation," with no union named, got 189.

The apparent loss was AFA-CWA's third at "New Delta," but the first under new election rules announced by the National Mediation Board (NMB), which governs airline labor-management relations. The new rules require unions to win a simple majority of those voting to obtain recognition for the leader among them (AFA-CWA in this case), rather than a "50 percent plus 1" majority of everyone in the bargaining unit.

"In the face of the largest anti-union campaign the nation has ever seen, Delta flight attendants came within 328 votes of having a union," said retiring AFA-CWA President Pat Friend, referring to the combined 9,216 votes all the unions got. "The amount of intimidation was unprecedented."

Union counsel Ed Gilmartin said AFA-CWA would file objections to the election with the NMB within two weeks, detailing not just intimidation by supervisors, personal letters, e-mails and other communications, but also Delta's use of the computer system.

Relying on past testimony from Delta's own computer expert, Gilmartin explained that Delta urged flight attendants to use its internal computer network, DeltaNet, which they must use to sign in for work, to vote. The flight attendant would sign in on DeltaNet, which was festooned with pop-ups subtly conveying the company's line-and then use it to transfer to the NMB's site for the electronic vote.

But since DeltaNet can also track an individual user's preferences, Gilmartin said, there is the possibility that it can track an individual flight attendant's votes - by registering the voter's keystrokes.

Flight attendants speaking at the telephone press conference described more traditional forms of management intimidation found in anti-union campaigns. Friend noted those actions violate the "laboratory conditions" for the election that federal law requires and that Delta's CEO promised.

The violations included one-on-one meetings, supervisors asking workers directly how they would vote, anti-union posters and notices "every 10 feet" in the flight lounges, and a campaign of intimidation "that crossed the line" the law draws, Friend said.

Gilmartin noted a precedent for NMB overturning the AFA-CWA vote at the "New Delta" and ordering an investigation into the labor law violations there, followed by a new election. He said the Machinists lost a vote among a small group of Delta's flight simulator technicians in August and that they had also experienced many of the same management tactics. NMB has launched a probe of that vote, too, Gilmartin said. 

Photo: Union organizer Rev. Gregory Williams leads Delta Air Lines flight attendants in an attempt to deliver a letter to CEO Richard Anderson, Sept. 29, at the airline's headquarters in Hapeville, Ga. Erik S. Lesser/AP


Post your comment

Comments are moderated. See guidelines here.


  • I am happy to find your distinguished way of writing the post. Now you make it easy for me to comprehend and implement the concept. Thank you for the post.

    Posted by Iceland , 05/02/2011 3:16pm (4 years ago)

  • If there was any intimidation, it was on the part of AFA, who said they weren't allowed into lounges. Not true. They were very visible and very verbal in ALL crew lounges, and very nasty in their remarks toward anti-AFA people like me. Intimidation? If you can count a sign that says "you must vote to be counted" on buses and throughout the lounges, then I guess Delta is guilty. Why doesn't AFA, and all Obama's pro-union commie buddies pack it up already and stay away? Does that hurt your feelings? Get some backbone and take some criticism like you are so good at doling out.

    Posted by Larry Sibbett, 11/08/2010 8:05pm (5 years ago)

  • It would be interesting to look into how much profit new Delta garnered in busting this union.
    Also interesting,would be a look at what the meagre management cost was versus the benefit to the company given the takeover from union to non-union status. In other words,what the small amount of money they paid management against what they would have to have paid both management and workers if they had not invested in the union busting surrounding the election(the internal computer network use,pop-ups,one on ones,etc).
    There are a number a ways this kind of analysis could be put together.
    However it is,the workers would understand the onslaught against workers better and how to run the company better for such an analysis,including the relationship between workers and management,in a word:exploitation.
    If the communists directly involved in this struggle helped to put this issue and analysis front and center, they would show their usefulness to all workers in decision making and struggle.
    We have to support this struggle both directly and indirectly. Given facts presented,conditions of struggle, and methods of employer,here,this is a fight which can and should be won.

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 11/07/2010 3:00am (5 years ago)

  • Doesn't surprize me at all. A lot of money was spent to thwart this campaign. They probably have a list of how each employee voted. Now the HIT list may begin.

    Posted by Nolan Voyd, 11/05/2010 9:50pm (5 years ago)

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments