Flight Attendant Debate

More than 53 percent of Delta Air Lines Inc.’s flight attendants voting in the flight attendant representation election rejected union representation, the National Mediation Board (NMB) announced recently.

Delta employees have declined to join labor unions in the past, unlike its contenders. For Northwest Airlines Inc. flight attendants – who have a long history of union representation – the vote means the end of union representation.

There were 18,760 votes cast and 53 percent voted against Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) representation. There were 19,887 eligible voters, of which only 44 percent voted for AFA.

In response, Joanne Smith, Delta Air Lines Inc. senior vice president of in-flight service, issued a message to its 20,000 flight attendants, of which the following are blurbs:

“This is a win for all Delta flight attendants. We are pleased not just with the outcome, but also with the fact that so many of you let your voice be heard. No matter how you voted, thank you for participating. I could not be more proud of our flight attendants.

So how soon can we fly together, open single bids for base transfers and fully integrate? Just as soon as we are able to align pay, benefits, work rules and produce a single seniority list. We hope to be able to move quickly, as we have with other workgroups where representation has been resolved. Rates of pay would be the first to be aligned – and that would be the first day of the first bid period after our flight attendants’ decision becomes final.

As I have heard from so many of you, we are anxious to complete our integration and move forward as soon as possible. We have said we respect our flight attendants’ choice. We urge the AFA to show that same respect.”

Patricia Friend, AFA-CWA international president, issued the following statement after the vote count:

“We are extremely disappointed that once again, Delta management overwhelmed flight attendants with heavy handed intimidation and coercion of voters. They stopped at nothing to keep Delta flight attendants from gaining a voice and advancing their profession.

In the next few days, we will be submitting interference charges against Delta management for their illegal and unfair methods to sway the vote. We will ask the National Mediation Board to defend the Delta flight attendants’ right to an election free of interference.

While we say goodbye for now to our Northwest colleagues, we are more resolved than ever to continue our long tradition of working for all flight attendants. Today, we stand together in solidarity and pledge to continue our efforts to preserve the integrity of our profession and the viability of our airlines. We will continue the work of raising the profession for all.”