Delta’s Anti-Union Campaign Goes Viral

May 10, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Delta Air Lines is the least unionized airline based in the US, but the company’s efforts to maintain that status quo created a stir on social media this week.

The airline’s flight attendants last rejected unionization in late 2010, following the 2008 acquisition of Northwest Airlines, and the company now operates a website (DontRiskItDontSignIt.com) that aims to sway employees against efforts to unionize.

Recently, a handful of flyers produced by the airline have gone viral. Most notable is one that states: “Union dues cost around $700 a year. A new video game system with the latest hits sounds like fun. Put your money towards that instead of paying dues to the union.”

That’s led some to complain about Delta’s tone on the issue.

We asked Delta for more information and learned the flyer was posted about a year ago, though it just now seems to have caught fire on social media.

More broadly, there’s a long history of contentious relations between labor and management in the airline industry. Earlier this year, for example, some voiced concerns after United and Bombardier introduced an entirely new regional aircraft. The 50-seat plane, they alleged, was a workaround to a scope clause in United’s contract with the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA).

As for Delta, it confirmed the authenticity of the posters to TPG.

“The direct relationship we have with our employees is at the very core of our strong culture and it has enabled continuous investments in Delta people,” the airline said in response. “Our employees have the best total compensation in the industry, including the most lucrative profit sharing program in the world. They want and deserve the facts and we respect our employees’ right to decide if a union is right for them. Delta has shared many communications, which on the whole make clear that deciding whether or not to unionize should not be taken lightly.”

delta-jets-planes-plane-airplane-atlanta-atl-jet
Delta jets dominate the landscape at its home in Atlanta (Photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy)

 

It’s also worth pointing out that Delta is running an exceptional operation. In TPG‘s latest report on best and worst airlines, Delta won big with 92.7% of planes arriving on time, the largest network of lounges, the most cities served and more. Delta is widely known for its friendly service, cabin cleanliness and tendency to go above and beyond to solve customer issues in a timely manner.

Employees have had little reason to rock the boat of late. In February Delta doled out $1.3 billion in the form of profit sharing bonuses to its workers, marking the fifth consecutive year in which the company issued north of $1 billion in profit sharing. That equals around 14% of each eligible employee’s compensation, and no other US airline comes close. Southwest’s latest round of profit sharing amounted to $544 million (around 10.8% of each employee’s base pay), while American issued $175 million (around 1.4% of each employee’s base pay) and United handed out around $334 million (around 3-4% of each employee’s base pay).

Sara Nelson, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) international president, represents some 50,000 flight attendants at 20 airlines. That includes Endeavor Air, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Delta Air Lines that operates the world’s largest fleet of CRJ-900 aircraft. If you’ve flown a Delta Connection flight recently, chances are high that is was operated by Endeavor.

Delta's variable award pricing has infuriated many travelers, but if done correctly, it can lead to more options for redeeming your miles
Delta Connection aircraft are frequently operated by Endeavor Air (Photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy)

 

While Delta’s flight attendants are not unionized, those at its regional affiliates like Endeavor are.

Nelson provided TPG with the following comment when asked about the Delta posters that have recently come to light: “In our highly unionized industry, I’ve come to learn just how true it is that unions are the only reason we have any protections at work or any ability to claim good jobs. And management doesn’t like that. In fact, Delta spent $38 million in less than a year to bash the union the last time Flight Attendants voted to try to gain union representation.”

She continued: “During the Northwest bankruptcy, management told flight attendants to save money by looking for things in the trash, while executives took millions in ‘key employee’ bonuses. Many of those same people are running Delta today. Union-busting is a multibillion-dollar business because it keeps labor costs low and allocates all of the control to a few in power.”

Featured image by Darren Murph / The Points Guy. 

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
0% on purchases for 12 months
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.