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Delta Air Lines flight attendants, mechanics and fleet service workers are attempting to join unions. Delta is the only mainline passenger carrier in the United States where employees in these positions aren’t unionized. As a result, Delta has the lowest percentage of workers represented by a union of any major U.S. airline. The Atlanta-based airline has aggressively dissuaded prior unionization attempts including stating that union dues could be better spent on a new video game console.
Delta Air Lines workers are now signing union authorization cards to join three different unions, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA for the carrier’s flight attendants, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers for fleet service workers, and the Teamsters for the mechanics. Employees have become frustrated with working conditions becoming worse as Delta surpasses pre-pandemic profits and is headed toward record profitably. Delta workers have seen fewer working hours and less paid time off.
A Delta ramp agent at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport told the Guardian:
“They’re removing more and more full-time lines. Many of these lines aren’t 40-hour-a-week lines, they’re 32-hour-a-week lines, so it’s not a full-time job. You have a high-seniority person, they’ve given their life, their bodies to this company, they’ve paid their dues. And in order to hold weekends on a good shift, they have to take a 32-hour line, which is a pay cut.”
The strain put on Delta’s 80,000 workers and the employees of other airlines have resulted in carriers operating on a knife’s edge. Despite the industry’s financial recovery since the pandemic’s start, staffing issues mean a problem can quickly cascade into a total meltdown like at Southwest.