In ballots counted Dec. 7, a majority of Delta Air Lines’ 15,436 customer service and reservations workers voted not to join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM). The vote was 3,638 for the union, 8,746 against, and nearly 3,000 not voting. The election means 4,800 IAM members who were former employees of Northwest Airlines will now become nonunion workers.
The vote tally was IAM’s third defeat at Delta Airlines in the space of three weeks, and the fourth major union defeat at Delta since heavily unionized Northwest Airlines merged into largely nonunion Delta in 2008.
That merger triggered a series of elections to see if the merged groups of workers would be unionized. On Nov. 3, Association of Flight Attendants lost a vote among 20,000 flight attendants; IAM lost a Nov. 18 vote among 14,000 baggage handlers and a Nov. 22 vote among 700 stock and stores workers.
Altogether, the union movement stood to gain 34,000 new members, but instead lost 17,000 existing members.
Both unions have filed objections to the vote results. In a statement, the Machinists union alleges Delta “created an atmosphere of such widespread surveillance, coercion, and intimidation that a fair election was impossible.”
Those claims will be adjudicated by the National Mediation Board (NMB), the federal agency that oversees airline union elections. NMB could overturn the results and hold a re-run election.
Earlier this year, NMB ruled that Delta had illegally interfered in a union election for a small group of flight simulator technicians. The company had illegally promised pay raises for nonunion workers just as the voting began. A re-run election was held, but IAM lost that election, too.
Pilots are the only group of Delta workers that have union representation.