MIAMI — On April 6, 2015, the IAM announced that it has withdrawn its application. The IAM released the following statement:
As you know, for the past few years the IAM has supported a historic organizing drive by Delta Flight Attendants. This campaign offered the opportunity to participate in an election to determine whether you would be represented by a strong union and protected by an industry leading contract or continue to be employees serving at the whim of the company.
We were heartened by the outpouring of support for an election, as well as the sense of urgency among thousands of Flight Attendants who believed that the time to have a voice in their professional future had arrived at last. For that reason, as soon as we received what was believed to be a substantial majority of authorization cards from the Flight Attendant group we filed the cards with the National Mediation Board (NMB) in Washington, D.C., seeking an election. Unfortunately, we have recently discovered that a number of the cards submitted to us contain insufficient information or questionable signatures.
By our calculation, the number of questionable cards makes our showing of interest borderline. However, rather than waiting months for a determination by the NMB, we believe the best course of action is to avoid further delay and withdraw our current application, renew our organizing drive and file again twelve months from the date of the dismissal of our application, as is permitted by law.
We apologize to all of you for this delay but under the circumstances it is the only way to correct this unfortunate situation while continuing our drive to obtain the economic justice Flight Attendants deserve.
Original Story: Will the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) be able to win over and represent Delta’s flight attendants? That is the million dollar question, and Delta and the anti-union employees are taking the flight public; over the weekend, an Airways reader spotted two large billboards outside Los Angeles International Airport that say: “Our Culture Fuels Our Success. Independence is worth fighting for” and “Be Delta. Be Different.” It would no appear that the fight is now going public in major cities where Delta has large flight attendant domiciles.
A Little Background
In January, the IAM filed with the National Mediation Board (NMB) – the government agency that oversees representation matters in the U.S. aviation and railroad industries – for a representation election.
When it was announced that the IAM filed with the NMB, Allison Ausband, Delta’s Senior Vice President of Inflight Service (IFS), wrote: “As always we respect the rights of Delta flight attendants to decide whether the Machinists union is right for you. Together we have built the best-run and most successful airline in the world. There is a difference and it’s the culture we’ve created together at Delta…your decision is the biggest decision you will make at Delta. It will have a profound effect on your future.”
In mid-January, Delta submitted the required Potential Eligible Voter List and signature samples to the NMB for flight attendants for the go ahead to hold a representation election.
Meanwhile, both sides have been trying to drum up support, and now, it seems both sides are kicking into high gear as a decision from the NMB about holding a vote should be known soon.
The Anti-Union Side
The IAM is pushing for a union vote for many reasons, including fighting for better insurance, higher salaries, and greater negotiation power.
In one particular ad, the IAM points out that “between 2001 and 2013, pre-merger Continental Flight Attendants’ average salaries rose from about $40,000 to more than $60,000 under an IAM contract. That’s about 50%. Meanwhile, a 13 year long span, Delta’s average salaries only increased from about $40,000 to just above $47,000. That’s a paltry 18%.”
Plus in another ad, the IAM points out that Delta is the only airline in the SkyTeam alliance that does not have a contract with their respective airline.
The IAM is quick to point out that “Delta Flight Attendants delivered more than 12,000 election authorization cards (“a-cards”)—approximately 60 percent of more than 20,000 Delta Flight Attendants—to the National Mediation Board (NMB), a federal agency, demanding the NMB conduct a representation election on our behalf…this is the largest amount of employees who have ever requested a representation election in airline industry history.” There appears to be strong momentum behind the movement, but everyone is wondering if it will last.
Currently, the IAM is conducting several meet and greets at several U.S. locations to help build a relationship with flight attendants around the system, to help address any concerns, and to help drum up support as a vote is expected soon.
Not the First Attempt
If history were to repeat itself, it would seem unlikely that the flight attendants would unionize; this is the fourth time that a union has attempted to unionize Delta flight attendants, and the IAM has been rejected by five workgroups at Delta during the merger with Northwest.
However, only time will tell, but it is worth mentioning that 11 months ago, reports surfaced that JetBlue flight attendants were planning to drum up support for a union vote after its pilots voted overwhelming to join ALPA.
Delta Celebrates 75 Years of Flight Attendants
The fight comes at an interesting time for Delta and its flight attendants as the airline celebrates “75 years of smiles in the aisles.”
March 16, 1940 marked the very first Delta flight–from Atlanta to Forth Worth with stops in Meridian, Jackson, Monroe, Shreveport and Tyler–there was a flight attendant on-board, and last Monday, Delta held a celebration at the Delta Flight Museum.
This month, Delta has been celebrating flight attendants with special celebrations at all of the domiciles as well as napkins to share the milestone with all of the passengers.
Will the NMB approve a union vote? Only time will tell.