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From the Union Advocate: Unions call out Delta for ‘unethical and illegal anti-union activities’
Jul 12, 2024

Delta Air Lines is the only major U.S. carrier with a mostly non-union workforce, but baggage handlers, flight attendants and mechanics at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport are looking to change that.

Delta employees based at MSP are leading a nationwide campaign to bring together over 50,000 frontline workers into three unions: the Machinists (IAM), the Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) and the Teamsters.

MSP is among Delta’s operational hubs, and it has been a hotbed of union support since the “Organize and Fly Together” campaign began in November 2022.

During a rally with the Machinists union near Terminal 2 last month, MSP-based baggage workers projected that 80% of eligible employees at their job site would sign union cards before year’s end.

Some local union activists, like cargo lead Miles Dousette, are even traveling on their own time to other airports, where they join organizing rallies and go door to door to ask fellow Delta workers to sign union cards.

“It’s a cause we all believe in, we all want to be a part of,” Dousette said. “And we know we can win.”

Management, Delta workers say, has responded to the organizing drive with a relentless union-busting campaign, cracking down on pro-union speech and flooding the workplace with disinformation. Nabil Kablaoui, a Delta ramp agent, said he feels like supervisors are trying to intimidate workers at MSP.

“They’ve stood behind workers who are talking about a union,” Kablaoui said. “I’ve seen a manager take pro-union fliers out of people’s hands or out of their bags on tables in our break room, where we should have free movement.

“They might not seem large, but especially to new workers, who are maybe a little nervous about these things, that’s going to scare them off from their legal right to a union.”

Leaders of the three international unions behind the organizing drive accuse Delta of crossing the line – both legally and ethically – in trying to remain mostly union free. “Delta has consistently and unabashedly violated our federally protected right to organize,” read a flier handed out during the rally May 29.

The allegations have drawn attention from several members of Congress, including Rep. Angie Craig of Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District.

In a March 2024 letter, Craig urged Delta CEO Ed Bastian to enter into a neutrality agreement with unions that would prohibit managers from engaging in “pre-election activities that influence workers’ freedom to form a union” – activities that could run afoul of federal labor laws.

“Unfortunately, I have heard from my constituents regarding Delta’s history of deploying union-busting tactics, including distributing anti-union literature … and hosting an anti-union website citing ‘unions’ empty promises,’” Craig wrote. “These actions are hostile to workers’ rights, and I urge you to commit to implementing a neutrality agreement with regard to these union organizing efforts.”

Although workers at the Machinists rally were skeptical that Delta would commit to remaining neutral, the facts, they said, are on their side.

Delta is the most profitable airline in the U.S., but many working groups lag their peers at other domestic carriers in pay and benefits. The one group that doesn’t? Members of the Air Line Pilots Association International union.

“Delta makes 40% of the industry’s profits, but we are not the highest paid, we do not have the most vacation time and our health care plan has changed three times in three years,” baggage handler Pat Gores said. “That is unacceptable for industry leaders. Our pilots are the best paid in the industry, and do you know why? Because they have a union contract.”

“We’re not out here asking for the whole pie, just a whole piece,” Dousette added. “We’re tired of fighting for the crust. We just want our fair share.”

– Michael Moore, Union Advocate editor

Labor World Newspaper
2002 London Rd, Ste 110
Duluth, MN 55812

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