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Union 101

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Forming Our Flight Attendant Union: Truth Be Told

What is a union? 

A union is an organized group of workers, in this case all Delta Flight Attendants, who unite to use collective power to demand and achieve fair pay and benefits, safe working conditions,  and advance any other issues that affect our jobs and quality of life. The Flight Attendant Union’s mission statement includes, "it is a core value of AFA-CWA to promote economic and social justice for all workers through education and action."

Why would someone want to join a union? 

  • To negotiate and enforce a legally binding contract that defines our work, pay, and benefits - just like the corporate executives have for themselves. Management can no longer unilaterally change work rules.
  • Gain legal standing to address issues at work and even to fight for the long term success of the airline when Wall Street greed or bad corporate decisions threaten the viability of the carrier.
  • Access to a Delta Flight Attendant union rep who is legally empowered to intercede with scheduling and/or management on our behalf in real time, during the operation.
  • Hold scheduling accountable for adhering to the contractual rules we negotiate.
  • Gain the professional recognition that comes with union membership. Not only will we have a legal voice at Delta, but also recognition on Capitol Hill, in the media, with regulators, and the traveling public.
  • We lock in what we love, and negotiate what we want to improve.

Do other Flight Attendants have unions? 

Nearly all Flight Attendants in the United States have chosen to be union members. The majority are AFA members. Additionally, Delta Pilots and Delta Dispatchers chose to be represented by unions and it has always paid off for their safety, jobs, and benefits.

How do we join a union?

  • As we organize, we are forming our union right now! But we also have to meet the standards under the Railway Labor Act to gain legal recognition as a union. We need to get a majority (more than 50%) of our work group to sign an authorization card within one year, requesting a vote for representation with AFA. (Cards expire after 1 year.) 
  • Management never sees these cards. Voting is conducted by secret ballot.

What happens if we vote to form our union?  

After a majority of Delta Flight Attendants vote to join AFA, we sign membership cards, select our leadership, and put in place a negotiating committee of Delta Flight Attendants who are assisted by attorneys, professional negotiators, researchers, economists, and any other professional resources we need for negotiations with management. We will all participate in contract surveys to ensure our positions at the negotiating table reflect what we all want to achieve. Once an agreement is reached between Delta AFA and management, Delta Flight Attendants will review, the contract and only once we vote to approve the contract will it become effective. No dues ($0) will be collected until a contract is approved by Delta Flight Attendants.

Management cannot retaliate against us for voting for our union. This means we lock in what we have today such as profit sharing, our pay scale, A-Days, etc. Management cannot unilaterally change these things like they can without a union at Delta. We negotiate up from there, and we decide what we want in our contract.

How long are authorization cards valid? 

Authorization cards are valid for one year from the date signed. Flight Attendants should re-sign cards or update cards every year or as often as you’d like.

How do Unions Work? 

Unions are democratic. The collective power of all workers standing together gives us standing, leverage, and legal protections none of us have alone. We have our own voice and ability to stand up for our safety, pay, benefits, job security and respect on the job that simply does not exist when management holds all the cards and has unilateral ability to change the terms of our employment at any time.

We can’t let Wall Street and the Board of Directors, who are only responsible to the shareholders, have the only say about the future of Delta Air Lines. We need to build power with the pilots, controllers, mechanics, ramp, and every career worker at Delta to make sure our airline stays accountable to the people who make it a success every day and the passengers who faithfully travel with us.

Management comes and goes with their millions, whether the company succeeds or not. With our union we also have the power to hold management accountable for decisions they make that impact the long term success of the airline. And, we will get our fair share of the profits we help create.