Showing posts with label Northwest Airlines. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Northwest Airlines. Show all posts

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Flight attendant union files charges against Delta Air Lines

AFA-CWA logoThe Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) has filed formal charges with the National Mediation Board (NMB) against Delta Air Lines alleging that the carrier's management illegally interfered with a recent union representation election among Delta's flight attendants. The allegations "include substantial evidence that Delta flight attendants were denied a free and fair election due to management's aggressive tactics aimed at defeating union representation."

In February of this year, a majority of Delta Air Lines flight attendants signed cards indicating that they wanted union representation. This was the first step in the unionization process. The second step was an official election to determine union representation, a process which ended on May 28.

Under the rules of the NMB, which supervises such elections, 50%-plus-one of all those eligible to vote must do so in order for an election to be certified. In the recent election, only 40% of eligible Delta Air Lines flight attendants cast ballots, thus even though the vast majority of those votes favored the AFA, the election could not be certified.

In a statement issued by the AFA, the organization's International President, Patricia Friend, said, "Delta flight attendants were denied the opportunity to freely participate in this election without being intimidated by management and heavy-handed efforts to keep them from gaining a voice. A majority of Delta flight attendants wanted the opportunity to have an election and they deserve an election that is free and fair. We now look for the NMB to stand up for that right and hold Delta executives accountable for their actions."

The AFA has charged that Delta management acted illegally to suppress the union vote, leading to the less-than-majority turnout, and the subsequently nullified election result. The AFA says:

If the NMB finds sufficient evidence that illegal interference occurred, it can set a new election. AFA-CWA is asking for a new election with a balloting procedure that will limit the effects of any further illegal conduct by Delta management. By rerunning the election using a 'Laker' Ballot, flight attendants will be permitted to vote "Yes" or "No" for AFA-CWA representation. In the previous election, flight attendants were discouraged from participating in the voting process as only the "Yes" votes were counted, thereby automatically counting those who did not vote as "No" votes.
Meanwhile, Delta's plans for a merger with Northwest Airlines are moving forward. Northwest's flight attendants already are represented by the AFA, and they have expressed an intention to stay with the union after the merger is complete.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Delta flight attendant union certification election results

Poster in a Delta Airlines crew lounge urges flight attendants to rip up their union ballots.Balloting for the election to certify the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) as the collective bargaining unit representing Delta Air Lines flight attendants was completed today, May 28, 2008. The AFA reportedly won the "vast majority" of the votes cast, however only about 40% of those eligible to vote did so. Under the rules of the National Mediation Board (NMB), which supervised the election, a majority of eligible voters must cast ballots in order for the election outcome to be certified. Since that did not happen, the AFA cannot be certified as the union representative for Delta's flight attendants at this time.

Management at Delta Air Lines openly opposed flight attendant unionization. The AFA has claimed that an aggressive voter suppression campaign by Delta management kept thousands from casting a vote. Tactics included the posting of signs in flight attendants' crew lounges (see photo) "encouraging them to rip up the voting information before even bothering to read about their rights."

"For months, Delta management has touted its commitment to the democratic process, yet never let up on their intimidation and coercion of voters. Their empty rhetoric cannot conceal their interference. The conditions surrounding election were neither free nor fair, as required by NMB statutes. Now it is up to the National Mediation Board to defend the Delta flight attendants’ right to an election free of interference," said AFA International President Patricia Friend in a statement issued by AFA.

Delta Air Lines put a different spin on the outcome of the union certification election. Instead of mentioning that only about 40% of those eligible cast a vote, the airline's management interpreted the non-votes as NO votes, by stating the following in a Delta Air Lines press release issued today:

Delta Air Lines has received notification from the National Mediation Board (NMB) that a decisive majority – more than 60 percent – of eligible flight attendants rejected representation by the Association of Flight Attendants/Communication Workers of America (AFA) in the representation election at Delta, and the airline will continue a direct relationship with its flight attendants.

“We are pleased that Delta’s flight attendants clearly believe that our unique culture and direct relationship are worth preserving,” said Delta CEO Richard Anderson. “Delta continues to be the best advocate for its people, and our employees recognize the benefits of working together to enhance their careers and drive successful results for themselves and our company.”

Joanne Smith, senior vice president – In-Flight Service and Global Product Development, added, “This decision was one of the biggest our flight attendants faced in their career at Delta and it arose during some challenging times in our industry. Through all of these distractions – soaring fuel costs, a softening economy and an unrelenting AFA campaign of scare tactics and inaccurate information – the professionalism of all of our flight attendants shone as they maintained an unwavering focus on safety and service. This comes as no surprise however, because that is the Delta Difference; it is what sets us apart from the rest of this industry.
Not all Delta flight attendants share management's view of the situation, as evidenced by a particularly well-written opinion piece by a Delta flight attendant in today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Here is part of what she said:
To protect our future, it is critical that we have safeguards to keep management from destroying our profession —- safeguards that are detailed in a legally binding contract. Delta flight attendants want to maintain the quality of middle-class jobs that have benefited the local Atlanta economy and communities across the country for decades. We want to have a say in building and growing the world's largest airline.

What once was a "family style" environment at Delta is no more. This sad fact faces us each day. The new Delta is run by a group of executives who have only been around for nine months. People like former Northwest CEO Richard Anderson are making decisions that will affect the future of Delta flight attendants who have spent their lives building our company.

Our airline has evolved, and Delta flight attendants intend to do so as well. By becoming union members, we will actively defend our profession. We will protect our interests as we work alongside management in creating the world's largest airline.
There is another chapter to this story that has yet been told: When the Delta - Northwest Airlines merger takes place another union certification election will be held, since Northwest's flight attendants already are represented by AFA. Under the rules of the NMB, when a non-union work group merges with a union group, if 35 percent of combined workforce has union representation or signs a union card, a union election will automatically be called. That vote is expected to occur in early 2009.

[Photo Source]

Monday, March 31, 2008

Former NFL lineman fined for pushing flight attendant

Former professional football player Tyoka Jackson (in photo at right), who had been a defensive lineman for several NFL teams, was ordered by a federal jury to pay a flight attendant $3,000 for an incident that happened on board a Northwest Airlines flight between Memphis and St. Louis in 2005.

According to a news story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the flight attendant testified in court that Mr. Jackson pushed him, sending him "toppling onto a passenger and the armrest in seats across the aisle." Jackson was said to be upset because the flight attendant asked him to stow a laptop bag under the first-class seats.

Jackson's attorney, Tom Magee, said in his opening statement that Jackson "used only such force he thought was necessary to stop this man from touching him against his wishes. He was not trying to hurt him."

[The flight attendant] testified that Jackson did "not simply push me, he threw me across the airplane."

"His hands came up so fast and hit me in the chest, and back I went."
The flight attendant also testified that he suffered back pain, a deep leg bruise and anxiety. He said he finds it hard to work because he now fears confrontations with unruly passengers.

In their suit against Mr. Jackson, the flight attendant and his wife had asked for more than a million dollars, but last week jurors ordered Mr. Jackson to pay $3,000 to cover medical expenses incurred by the flight attendant, according to the Associated Press.

Tyoka Jackson played professional football in the NFL from 1994 through 2006, most recently for the Detroit Lions. Earlier he had played for the Miami Dolphins, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the St. Louis Rams.

[Photo Source]

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Mimi Abell: A 41 year career at Northwest Airlines

Mimi AbellMimi Abell retired from Northwest Airlines last month after 41 years of service as a flight attendant with the airline. To mark her retirement, The Republican-Leader, her hometown newspaper in Minnesota, ran a feature story about Mimi Abell, accompanied by the photos at right.

The photos show Mimi during her final flight, and as she looked early in her career. Mimi Abell joined Northwest Orient Airlines (as it was then called) in 1967. She was based at Minneapolis-St.Paul for her entire career.

Mimi Abell always has been a very busy person. In addition to her flying career, and being a mother, she and her late husband, whom she married in 1989, owned and operated Mrs. B's Inn and Restaurant in Lanesboro, MN. Mimi also did a lot of volunteer work in her community -- as a Girl Scout leader, an adult literacy teacher, and a volunteer probation officer. In addition, she found the time to earn a Private Pilot's License, and to finish her college education at the University of Minnesota.

Go and read Waiting in the Wings... the Republican-Leader's article about Mimi Abell. It is a story that will ring true to cabin crew everywhere.

[Photo Source]

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Northwest Flight Attendants' Merger Concerns

AFA-CWA logoAmid media reports that Northwest Airlines is in merger talks with Delta Airlines, Northwest's flight attendants have publicized a list of conditions they say must be met in order for them to approve and support the merger of Northwest with another carrier.

In a press release issued earlier this week, the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), the union representing Northwest's flight attendants, notes that "a merger agreement that addresses the needs of front line employees will help to ensure a quality product and service that meets the needs of our customers." The union has set forth eight conditions that they wish to have included in any merger agreement:

  • Job protections for Northwest flight attendants.
  • Seniority integration of the two flight attendant groups should be given the full protection of the AFA-CWA Constitution and Bylaws and the law, as applicable.
  • Allegheny- Mohawk Labor Protective Provisions that cover displaced workers and other matters not directly related to seniority.
  • Stock, or other equity in the merged company no less favorable than that granted to any other employee group, including management.
  • A labor agreement that provides substantial improvements in compensation and work rules to the current flight attendant agreement.
  • A route structure that has a sufficient network and market strength to allow for growth and profitability.
  • Inclusion in discussions on the effects of a proposed merger prior to the finalization of any transaction.
  • Maintaining a strong hub presence in the Twin Cities and continue to plan for future growth, securing our position as one of the largest employers in Minnesota.
The union also cautions that for a merger to be accepted, it must include "transparent and open communications" between the airline's management and its employees on the status of merger developments, and discussions regarding the issues of concern to employees.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Score one for Northwest flight attendants

Northwest Airlines logoFlight attendants at Northwest Airlines have formally objected to the payment of 'enhanced fees' to several consultants and legal firms that represented the airline during its bankruptcy restructuring. The flight attendants, represented by their union, were joined by the U.S. Trustee and representatives of Northwest's bondholders in formally objecting to the payment of additional fees to four firms. Judge Alan Gropper of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York agreed with them, at least in part, by denying two of the fee applications. The hearing on two others has been delayed.

Northwest flight attendants are represented by the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA). A news release on the AFA website about this most recent court action says:

The four firms, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP; Otterbourg, Steindler, Houston & Rosen, P.C.; FTI Consulting, Inc; and Lazard Freres & Co. have already received tens of millions in fees. The cost of their professional services soaked up a significant portion of the lost wages and benefits for all Northwest employees. Flight attendants alone are working under 40 percent wage and benefit reductions.

The Court recognized that it was the sacrifice of the employees and other factors -- not just the work of these firms -- that helped turn Northwest around. The Court denied the applications from Cadwalader and Otterbourg. The other firms' applications will be heard at a later date.

In so ruling, the Court noted the importance that the process be perceived as a fair one, clearly concerned that these outrageous fees would have diminished the fairness of the entire process.
Commenting on the flight attendants' position in this matter, Kevin Griffin, president of the Northwest MEC of AFA said, "If AFA-CWA had not objected today, more millions of dollars of our concessions would have been wasted on these outrageous fees. Management did not object to these fees, so the money is clearly available. Since they will not have to pay these ridiculous bonuses, we think it is far better spent on returning some of the pay and workrules the Northwest flight attendants have sacrificed."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Northwest flight attendants say Steenland must go

Flight attendants at Northwest Airlines are calling for the resignation of the airline's President and CEO, Douglas Steenland. Late last week the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) released a statement to the press declaring that "severe staffing shortages, record flight cancellations, low employee morale and outraged customers are the direct result of poor management by Steenland."

How low is moral among Northwest flight attendants? AFA reports that a poll of Northwest flight attendants, conducted by the Wilson Center for Public Research, revealed that 89% of respondents describe their view of NWA management as "mostly negative" or "very negative."

"Northwest flight attendants sacrificed 40 percent in pay, work rules and benefits cuts and are 20 percent more productive, all in an effort to ensure the survival of Northwest Airlines," said [Northwest AFA MEC President Kevin] Griffin. "In return for our investment, Mr. Steenland pocketed a lucrative compensation package and has mismanaged our airline. It's insulting to flight attendants that he remains employed."
Mr. Griffin sent a letter to the Northwest Board of Directors on behalf of the 8,000 flight attendants he represents, expressing their lack of confidence in the airline's management. Accompanying that letter was a formal resolution calling for Steenland's resignation.

[Photo Source]

Friday, June 1, 2007

Northwest F/As approve pay cuts

Earlier this week, flight attendants at Northwest Airlines ratified a new collective bargaining agreement. A Reuters news report about the agreement says:

The company said flight attendants will receive a $182 million unsecured claim in the bankruptcy, which will be sold for cash, and then distributed to flight attendants upon the company's emergence from Chapter 11, which is scheduled for later this week.
An Associated Press report about the contract published on estimates that the deal "will put about $15,000 dollars in each flight attendant's hands in exchange for their concessions."

Reuters adds that the agreement "also includes additional contract modifications designed to improve the flight attendants' work environment."

Northwest flight attendants have had a particularly rough time during the bankruptcy period, so almost anything would be an improvement!

[Photo Source]

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Northwest DC-9 cabin decompression incident

Several days ago, a Northwest Airlines DC-9 experienced a cabin decompression while en route from Syracuse to Detroit. The flight diverted to Buffalo Niagara International Airport, where it made a safe emergency landing. There were four crew and 95 passengers on board. No one was injured.

Northwest Flight 1411 departed from Syracuse Hancock Airport just after noon on Friday, May 18, 2007. It landed at Buffalo at shortly before 1:30 PM. News reports about the incident say that smoke filled the cockpit, the cabin depressurized, and the cabin oxygen masks deployed. After the aircraft landed at Buffalo, damage described as a 12-inch hole in the fuselage was discovered. No further details were reported.

Later in the day, passengers continued on their journey aboard another aircraft that had been ferried to Buffalo from Detroit.

[Photo Source]