Showing posts with label airline mergers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label airline mergers. 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, February 11, 2008

Delta flight attendants seek union representation

Delta Airlines logoThis week, flight attendants at Delta Airlines will formally act to seek union representation. On February 14, the flight attendants will file signed cards to this effect. If a sufficient number of signed cards are collected and verified by the U.S. National Mediation Board (NMB), an election will be called to officially determine union representation. The NMB is responsible for overseeing union representation elections in the U.S. airline industry.

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, known as "AFA," has been working for some time with Delta flight attendants who favor union representation. A media release issued last week by AFA states that "a solid majority of Delta flight attendants have signed cards and eagerly await an election."

Up to now, Delta flight attendants have not been unionized. Although there has been growing dissatisfaction with pay and work rules among the rank and file, it seems that the tipping point came as Delta began engaging in merger talks with other carriers. Now a growing number of Delta's flight attendants are acknowledging the potential value of representation by a formal collective bargaining unit such as the AFA.

The AFA has opened a website -- Delta AFA -- to support the campaign by Delta flight attendants for unionization. There is a copy of the authorization card for union representation on the website, as well as a wealth of information about AFA, and about the legal rights of flight attendants in regard to collective bargaining and unionization. In addition, the website features a page with comments by individual Delta flight attendants telling why they want AFA -- definitely an interesting read!

According to reports in the news media, Northwest Airlines currently is considered to be the most likely merger partner for Delta, however officials at United Airlines also have discussed a potential merger with Delta. Flight attendants at both Northwest and United already are represented by AFA.

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.