Delta attendants call for union vote
ST. PAUL — Delta Air Lines flight attendants are heading toward a vote on whether to unionize.
Nearly 12,000 signed cards from flight attendants formally requesting an election were delivered this week.
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) said those cards represent nearly 60 percent of Delta’s 20,000 flight attendants, surpassing the 50 percent threshold the National Mediation Board requires for a union representation election.
But Delta doesn’t want the union. The Atlanta-based airline came out swinging Tuesday, saying in a statement, “The IAM’s poor track record at other airlines, together with its culture of divisiveness, harassment and personal attacks, would not benefit Delta flight attendants.”
Delta flight attendants have rejected unions several times before, and Delta remains the least-unionized of major U.S. airlines. Its most recent union vote came in 2010, two years after Delta merged with Minnesota-based Northwest Airlines, where flight attendants were union members.
Delta has been the dominant carrier at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport since the Northwest merger.
The union lost that close 2010 vote, with 9,544 Delta flight attendants voting against unionization, and 9,216 voting for it. Organizers have been eager to try again, mounting a two-year effort to bring the matter up for another vote.
“We fully expect the National Mediation Board — a federal agency — to order a representation election within the next four to six weeks,” the IAM said in a statement Tuesday.
IAM International president Tom Buffenbarger called it “a historic date for these courageous flight attendants.”
Delta’s senior vice president of In-Flight Service, Allison Ausband, said Tuesday in a statement, “While we respect our employees’ right to decide whether unionization is best for them, Delta flight attendants have already rejected union representation three times since 2002.”
The statement continued, “Additionally, the machinists union was rejected by all five work groups it sought to represent following the Delta-Northwest merger, but with membership having declined steeply, it’s no surprise it is eager to secure a big-business deal of potentially $12 million annually in new revenue from our flight attendants’ paychecks.”
Delta’s statement concluded, “Working directly with Delta leaders, Delta flight attendants have enjoyed greater pay increases than flight attendants at other airlines since 2007, and they have a superior package of top-tier pay rates and an industry-leading profit-sharing program, along with competitive benefits and flexible work rules. Quite simply, our flight attendants deserve better than the IAM.”