In votes counted Nov. 3, Delta Air Lines flight attendants chose not to be represented by Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA). That means Delta will remain the least-unionized among top U.S. airlines. While 8,778 Delta flight attendants voted for AFA-CWA, 9,544 voted for “no representation.” Turnout was very high, with more than 94 percent of 19,887 eligible workers casting a ballot.
“Delta management overwhelmed flight attendants with heavy handed intimidation and coercion of voters,” said AFA-CWA President Patricia Friend in a press statement.
It was Delta flight attendants’ third unionization vote in a decade, and union campaigners should have had an easier time. A federal agency rule change ended the practice of counting non-voting workers as “no” votes. And Delta absorbed 7,500 unionized Northwest Airlines flight attendants when the two companies merged in 2008.
The vote result will mean an end to a union contract for the former Northwest flight attendants, a group that had been union for 63 years. Though Delta won’t legally have to recognize a union or bargain, Friend said AFA-CWA will do everything it can to continue to fight on behalf of the Northwest flight attendants.
AFA-CWA said it would file a series of objections with the National Mediation Board (NMB), including charges accusing Delta management of using illegal and unfair methods to sway the vote. NMB oversees workers’ union rights in the railroad and airline industries.
Still to come were election results for three other groups of Delta workers who are deciding whether to be represented by International Association of Machinists (IAM). About 14,000 Delta baggage handlers — including 4,700 formerly at Northwest — will decide in ballots tallied Nov. 18, after this issue went to press.
Then 700 Delta “stock and stores” workers will have their ballots counted Nov. 22. And 16,000 passenger service workers will decide in ballots counted Dec. 7.