Skip to main content

A crew meal made me sick, then management threatened to fire me

I just hit my 8th year as a Delta Flight Attendant, but I started out at Express Jet where I was represented by the IAM. When I began my career as a Flight Attendant, I was naive to what a big deal it was that we had concrete work rules at my unionized carrier, and that someone would hold scheduling accountable if my schedule didn’t follow the rules.

Before I applied to Delta, all I heard out on the line was how happy everyone was at Delta and how well they were treated. I decided I only wanted Delta - I didn’t even apply to any other major airlines. But it didn’t take long for me to see how little real protection we actually had.

When I was on my “Fly Right” period, I had three accountable occurrences. On one, my primary and secondary commuting flights were delayed, and I arrived 20 minutes late for airport standby. On another, the first class meal I ate gave me food poisoning so bad I was throwing up on the plane. When we landed, scheduling pulled me off of the rotation. It wasn’t my choice to come off; the captain and OCC decided it wasn’t safe for me to continue. As sick as I was, I knew I’d already had two occurrences and was afraid for my job.

After that third occurrence, my FSM looked over everything. She said, “I feel like you really have some extenuating circumstances and this shouldn’t be a reflection of your dependability. I’m not going to write you up, but you can’t have another instance.” I was relieved to feel like I had someone advocating for me.

A month later, I transferred to another base. To my surprise and horror, my new FSM wrote me up retroactively. When I told her I planned to follow through with the conflict resolution process, she told me that I was lucky she wasn’t firing me, and she was back-dating the Corrective Action to the date I first met with my previous manager out of respect for her. She said, “If this goes beyond me I can’t guarantee what will happen.”

I was alone in the room with her. I knew she was saying not to fight. I had no protection at all. For the next two years, I was constantly afraid that if anything went wrong, I would be fired. I remember thinking “There’s no way this would be happening if I had a contract and a union rep with me.” From one month to the next, I went from feeling like someone cared about what happened to me, to having no one to turn to. I realized that the only people I could trust to have my back are the flight attendants by my side at 35,000 feet.

I joined the campaign before there was a real campaign, when it was just a few of us with hot pink cards we printed ourselves. We’ve worked hard to build this structure, and I see every day how our campaign is making our workplace better and stronger already.

I’m so proud to wear my AFA pin. This is OUR campaign. When we secure our union, it will be OUR union.

Delta is already the best airline, but we should have the best pay, benefits and working conditions in the industry. The only way we can get that is with our union.

Let’s work together to make Delta the best place it can be. We could be the best. We should be the best. Sign your card today, then sign up to join us as an activist. Let’s win, together.

In unity,

Kara, ATL
Delta Flight Attendant & AFA Activist