The Real Delta Difference Is the Hearts of Flight Attendants
WHY DOESN’T MANAGEMENT WANT FLIGHT ATTENDANTS TO HAVE A UNION?
As soon as we announced our intention to organize with AFA, management and their union-busting law firm put out a video and a website full of anti-union talking points - within three hours. Management is prepared to spend tens of millions of dollars to stop us from forming a union, and they want you to think that it’s because they’re looking out for us. But here’s our question: why is management so intent on preventing us from coming together in a union?
There are 100 million reasons to start with. Delta pays $100 million per year less than United for Flight Attendant costs like pay, benefits, profit sharing, and working conditions. If we form a union, we’ll have the power together to demand our fair share of Delta’s industry-leading profits. That’s the real reason they’re willing to spend millions to prevent us from coming together through AFA.
So what is management saying about our union? Let’s take a look at the truth.
MANAGEMENT CLAIM: “STATUS QUO” DOES NOT APPLY
FACT: We’re the Flight Attendant union (AFA) and we have an entire collective bargaining department of attorneys and professional negotiators who are the industry experts in negotiating Flight Attendant contracts under the Railway Labor Act. We know the law and the applicable court decisions - that is why we don’t use the term “status quo.” But Delta management is not telling the whole truth. Under the law, they cannot retaliate against Flight Attendants for supporting the union. So they can’t take away what you have today if your support for the union is clear. That is why the foundation of your pay, benefits, and work rules is secure under the law. We negotiate up from there. If Delta management is saying otherwise, they are saying that they wouldn’t respect a democratic vote of their employees. We can’t imagine Delta management would want to send that message.
MANAGEMENT CLAIM: AFA TOOK MORE THAN 3.5 YEARS TO REACH A FIRST CONTRACT FOR 366 GOJET FLIGHT ATTENDANTS
FACT: We’ve always said it takes both parties to reach an agreement. AFA is always prepared to reach agreement and this will be no different. The dynamics at a regional airline are unique. In this case, for example, the company was waiting to see if they could get a contract for long term service and once they did we were able to get them focused on the Flight Attendant contract with the certainty of continued flying.
It’s great that Delta is trying to compare itself to a regional airline. Maybe they can stop funneling stock buy backs to Wall Street and executives off the backs of Flight Attendants at regionals and instead agree to pay for contracts that equal the mainline operation.
Here’s the truth: Delta management promotes the notion that they are respectful of their employees. AFA will be ready to get this contract done. Take a look at our review of the negotiations process with a realistic timeline. The question is, will management respect the wishes of employees and take bargaining seriously? If you have to ask the question, then you clearly need a union.
UNION-BUSTER CLAIM: AFA IS ONLY INTERESTED IN DUES
FACT: Dues are only paid once a contract is negotiated and voted in by Delta Flight Attendants. Dues are used to negotiate contracts and enforce them. Unions are non-profit organizations focused on getting companies to put more money in the pockets of the people we represent and that’s why management doesn’t want you to pay dues to help make that happen. If we choose a union with AFA, dues are a flat $50 per month, and 80% of the money is allocated directly to the frontline representation at Delta. The 20% allocated to the full union also supports the things we need to do our jobs safely—for example, AFA’s efforts have led to achieving Flight Attendant priorities like access to KCM, 10-hours minimum rest, permanently banning knives on planes, banning voice calls and e-cigarettes, and expanding efforts to prevent in-flight harassment and assault. We also have access to experts like industrial hygienists who can help us define the health risks of toxic uniforms and fume events in order to get solutions that protect our health and job security.
FACT: AFA leaders don’t get a raise if Delta Flight Attendants decide to join. AFA—like all unions—is a non-profit. There are no bonuses or stock options for union leaders, unlike the corporate executives who get a bonus for keeping labor costs down by shortchanging workers. We are all about lifting each other up - that’s our incentive.
FACT: We have more power together. Today, Delta is the only mainline U.S. airline without a Flight Attendant union. That affects and undercuts Flight Attendants at every airline. When Delta Flight Attendants have a union contract and voice on the job, it will increase our power across the aviation industry to work together for positive change.
UNION-BUSTER CLAIM: IT TAKES A LONG TIME TO NEGOTIATE A CONTRACT
FACT: A contract only takes as long as management drags their heels. With 25,000 Flight Attendants united at Delta, we’ll have tremendous power to win positive changes that benefit us, support our passengers and make Delta the best place to work in aviation.
FACT: Under AFA’s constitution, only Delta Flight Attendants would have a say on the issues we want to negotiate, and only Delta Flight Attendants get a vote on any contract proposal. And since AFA represents nearly 50,000 Flight Attendants at 17 other airlines, AFA leaders and staff bring unmatched expertise in our issues, the history of Flight Attendant contracts, and the ways we can win on issues that matter to us at Delta.
UNION-BUSTER CLAIM: AFA LOVES CHAOS
FACT: Actually, this is true. Here’s why: since we pioneered the CHAOS™ strategy in 1993, we’ve only had to strike seven flights. Ever. CHAOS™ uses our unique power as Flight Attendants to create the most pressure on management with the least risk to Flight Attendants. Management is so afraid to lose control of the schedule, even the threat of a CHAOS™ strike brings them back to the table to reach agreement.
UNION-BUSTER CLAIM: AFA WAS CENSURED BY THE AFL-CIO
FACT: This is false. AFA has never been censured by the AFL-CIO. On January 17, 2020 an AFL-CIO Hearing Panel determined that AFA-CWA has in no way interfered with any organizing campaign at Delta. As we knew when we started our campaign on November 1, 2019, nothing stands in the way of AFA supporting Delta Flight Attendants in our efforts to join the Flight Attendant union.
UNION-BUSTER CLAIM: TROUBLED FINANCES
FACT: AFA doesn’t have a huge budget, but that doesn’t mean it’s in trouble. We don’t need a huge purse to be an effective advocate for our members, so we keep dues as low as we can. AFA dues are among the lowest in all unions--just $50 per month, and 80% of that money stays in your local chapter. But AFA has all the money necessary to support a winning campaign - and the structure of our Flight Attendant union at 17 airlines to help get it done. We also have the full support and resources of the 700,000 members of the Communications Workers of America.
UNION-BUSTER CLAIM: CAN’T TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER
FACT: Delta Flight Attendants are leading this effort. After other organizing drives fell short or stalled out, we decided it was time to ask for AFA’s help once again. It has been ten years since we voted for a union. Management has changed and we have changed. This is a Flight Attendant-led campaign, and we’re grateful to have AFA on our side to win the union we need to make sure Delta stays a great place to work. We want to claim our rights to be a part of shaping our experience at work just like our pilots have done for decades. It’s a new day with AFA.
UNION-BUSTER CLAIM: IF WE VOTE FOR AFA, WE’LL NO LONGER HAVE A-DAYS
FACT: Only Delta Flight Attendants can decide what’s negotiated. Nothing will change unless we as Delta Flight Attendants want it to change. So let’s put this one to rest once and for all. Management’s claim just isn’t true. It’s our union and our choice as Flight Attendants to keep A-days.
UNION-BUSTER CLAIM: MANAGEMENT'S OAL COMPARISON
FACT: Management’s long promised Flight Attendant Pay, Work Rules and Benefits Comparison (“OAL Comparison”) is a selection of cherry-picked Delta favorable items. It ignores contractual guarantees. Management also only compared United and American, leaving out other competitors like Southwest, Alaska, Hawaiian and more. Learn more on how management distorts shared rewards, purser and service leader pay, ground holding pay, LOD pay, and more.
UNION BUSTER CLAIM: AFA HAS NEVER PRIORITIZED BOARDING PAY
FACT: In October 2021, United AFA published their opening proposal for contract negotiations. The proposal includes a new type of pay — Ground Time Pay. This would cover all time on the ground, including boarding and arrival. Holding Pay remains a different and additional pay factor.
Proposed language, pg. 45:
4.S. Ground Time Pay
Flight Attendants shall receive Ground Time Pay calculated at one-half the hourly rates set forth in Section 4.A. and 4.B., as applicable including premium pay and language pay, when applicable, on an actual minute basis for all ground time. Flight Attendants will be paid such Ground Time as add pay in addition to all other compensation.
UNION BUSTER CLAIM: AFA ARGUED TO ONLY LET ONE IN THREE FLIGHT ATTENDANTS VOTE AT AVELO AIRLINES
FACT: Avelo is a start up airline. When Flight Attendants reached out to AFA there were just over 40 Flight Attendants working at the airline. They organized majority support and filed with the NMB in October. As with any NMB election the eligibility list is locked in with the filing to include all Flight Attendants on the seniority list at that time. After multiple delays, extraordinary even due to the GOP blocking confirmation of Biden’s National Mediation Board members and constant delay tactic filings from Avelo management, it took until earlier this year for their election to be scheduled. In that time, more than half of the Avelo FAs left because the working conditions without a union were that bad. Management hired a high priced union busting firm and has waged an all out effort to keep Flight Attendants from securing their union and the right to bargain a contract.
Avelo Flight Attendans won! Now, they will have collective bargaining rights and all of the Avelo Flight Attendants are participating in the process of negotiating a first contract and voting on it.