Delta is now facing three of the largest unions in North American at the same time. Get ready for pizza parties.

Historic Union Alliance Forms at Delta

GOIAM.org
28 November 2022

North America’s three largest airline unions have formed a historic alliance to unify tens of thousands of workers at Delta Air Lines.

Unlike most commercial airlines, most workers at Delta are unorganized and have no union rights or bargaining power. Airlines’ management has worked hard to keep it that way, spending a fortune to protect its ability to dominate employees one-on-one instead of as a group. The airline even killed Northwest’s heavily union tradition when it merged with the smaller carrier nearly a decade ago. 

When individual employees are isolated and left to negotiate with billion-dollar corporate giants such as Delta, they are usually forced into a “take it or leave it.” offer that often results in exploitation. Disunity among workers allows companies to impose arbitrary and unfair terminations and pay cuts and issue scheduling demands that disrupt workers’ personal lives. Additionally, companies can violate legal workplace protections with near impunity, knowing that individual employees can rarely afford to take violators to court.

Abusive policies at one airline can have spillover effects on other carriers, even those protected by the ability of union workers to take group action. Other airlines can use Delta’s ability to dominate workers to justify similar policies to “remain competitive” in contract negotiations.

Ground workers at Delta have enlisted the Machinists and Aerospace Workers Union’s (IAMAW) help to gain union status for years. Likewise, flight crews have reached out to the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA). Now, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters is joining the fight and working to organize the airlines’ Tech Ops workers. 

At the IAMAW Grand Lodge Convention earlier this year, General Vice President Richard Johnsen condemned union rivalries and called for more unified action. Johnsen, who heads the Air Transport Territory, said at the time, “We have to stop fighting other unions,” Johnsen told Machinists union members. “Delta Air Lines — one of the most anti-union companies in the country — has successfully kept unions off their property for their lifetime.”

“Let Delta Air Lines come after the whole labor movement instead of targeting one of us,” he said.

In a statement issued after the alliance was announced, Johnsen laid out the key factors driving the organizing effort for Delta ground workers. Foremost among the changes needed at the airline were consistent work rules, pensions, adequate staffing and safety policies, and a healthier work-life balance. 

The statement continued, “With a union contract, Delta won’t be able to change vacation accrual schedules or anything else unilaterally because, with a union, you have a voice in determining your destiny. With a union comes a union safety committee that can fight for adequate staffing, proper and well-maintained equipment, and union representatives whom you elect and fight for you—not corporate shareholders.”

Delta responded by saying management would prefer to pit individual employees against the company one at a time, in what the airline called a “direct relationship.” Kelly Yamanouchi, writing for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, quoted the airline as saying that this tactic would lead to a “stronger, faster, and more effective way to drive improvements than AFA, IAM, or Teamsters representation would be.” 

The move at Delta comes as employees are unifying at an unprecedented rate across America. According to the National Labor Relations Board, new union filings have shot up by 53% over the last year. This increase is the highest single-year jump since 2016. 

It’s also happening as Ground Operations Crew Members at JetBlue have filed a petition with the National Mediation Board to join the Machinists Union. The Machinists Union is North America’s largest group of transportation, aviation, and aerospace workers. The union’s largest single commercial aviation district, District 141, led by Union President Mike Klemm, is currently negotiating multiple contracts with United Airlines. The agreements cover fleet and customer service workers, security guards, instructors, and load planners at the airline.

Previous contracts negotiated by Machinists Union airline workers include historic pay increases at Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Hawaiian, and Southwest. However, increasingly, workers are asking for workplace improvements, not more money. More and more, a healthier work-life balance has begun to rise to the top of employee priorities. 

At Spirit, workers gained the highest pay rates in the history of the airline, and part-time workers also gained the ability to take vacations – another first for ground workers at the airline. “For some of these workers, this will be the first time they’ve been able to take a paid vacation,” District President Mike Klemm said. “It’s hard to believe that working people are still fighting for things like vacation time in the modern age, but here we are,” he continued. 

Other Machinists Union Contracts negotiated by Machinists Union members include provisions that make mandatory overtime much more expensive and give workers more flexibility in their work schedules. To Klemm, these priorities reflect a new way of thinking about the modern workplace. While wages and job security remain critical factors, unions also address concerns that help build a better life overall.

“Family comes first,” President Klemm said of the shift in union values. “Family comes first, second and third,” he continued, pointing out the importance of giving workers the ability to earn high enough wages that afford them the ability to spend more time off the clock. “Delta workers and JetBlue Ground Operations are overworked and undervalued,” he said. “Workers at United, American, Southwest, Hawaiian, and Spirit are ready and willing to fight side by side with them and help win the legally-binding union contracts they deserve.”

Justice Department Expected to Block JetBlue / Spirit Merger

DOJ Expected to Block JetBlue / Sprit MergerIAM141.org March 6, 2023According to two anonymous sources familiar with the matter, the Justice Department plans to file a lawsuit as early as Tuesday to prevent JetBlue's proposed $3.8 billion acquisition of Spirit...

Machinists Union emerges as leader in US labor organizing

Machinists Union emerges as leader in US labor organizingGoIAM.org February 15, 2023According to data from Bloomberg Law, the Machinists Union, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, has emerged as the leading union in the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) union election...

Make JetBlue a Better Place to Work With a YES VOTE!

Make JetBlue a better place to work with a YES VOTE! Justice at JetBlue January 10, 2023We are all proud to work for JetBlue, and we work extremely hard to make JetBlue a successful airline, even though we have been placed in difficult circumstances over the last few...

Flight Attendants Endorse JetBlue GO Unionization

Flight Attendants Stand with JetBlue Ground OperationsJustice at JetBlue January 9, 2023Dear GO crewmembers: Flight Attendants across the industry count you as family. We are inspired that you are voting to join the International Association of Machinists and...

McGee Air Services Workers Forge Tentative Agreement

Machinists Union Reaches Tentative Agreement for Over 2300 Members at McGee Air Services, a subsidiary of Alaska Airlines AIR TRANSPORT December 20, 2022 WASHINGTON, Dec. 21, 2022 –The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) has reached a...

“Values Committee” Cannot Protect Anything

Buy Provigil Online: Everything You Need to Know Buy Lyrica Buy Tapentadol Online: How to Safely Purchase Your Medication Buy Clonazepam Without Prescription Buy Clenbuterol Online Buy Ativan Order Xanax Online Buy Diazepam...

Southwest Airlines Union Contract; Top Out Pay Rate $35 per hour

Southwest Airlines IAM Members Vote In Industry Leading Contract; Top Out Pay Rate $35 per Hour Justice at JetBlue16 December 2022IAM members at Southwest Airlines voted yesterday to approve an industry-leading contract. The four-year contract provides for the below...

JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes Extends his Contract

JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes Extends his ContractJustice at JetBlue14 December 2022In a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing yesterday, JetBlue Airways announced that CEO Robin Hayes’ CONTRACT has been extended two years to 2025. At the same time, JetBlue...

Related News

Emirates Hit with $1.8 Million Fine for JetBlue Code Share Flights

Emirates Hit with $1.8 Million Fine for JetBlue Code Share Flights

Emirates Hit with $1.8 Million Fine for JetBlue Code Share FlightsWASHINGTON - The USDOT has fined Emirates Airlines $1.8 million for flying through prohibited airspace over Iraq at an unsafe altitude. The flights were part of a code share agreement with JetBlue...

Unified Airline Workers Gather in Nevada

Unified Airline Workers Gather in Nevada

Unified Airline Workers Gather in NevadaLAS VEGAS - The 2024 Machinists Union District 141 Committee Conference kicked off today in Las Vegas, bringing together over 200 union activists, leaders, and grievance committee members from across the United States.Unified...

Historic Union Alliance Forged at Delta

28 November 2022

Delta must now contend with an alliance of the three largest airline workers’ unions in North America. Let the pizza parties commence. 

North America’s three largest airline unions have formed a historic alliance to unify tens of thousands of workers at Delta Air Lines.

Unlike most commercial airlines, most workers at Delta are unorganized and have no union rights or bargaining power. Airlines’ management has worked hard to keep it that way, spending a fortune to protect its ability to dominate employees one-on-one instead of as a group. The airline even killed Northwest’s heavily union tradition when it merged with the smaller carrier nearly a decade ago. 

When individual employees are isolated and left to negotiate with billion-dollar corporate giants such as Delta, they are usually forced into a “take it or leave it.” offer that often results in exploitation. Disunity among workers allows companies to impose arbitrary and unfair terminations and pay cuts and issue scheduling demands that disrupt workers’ personal lives. Additionally, companies can violate legal workplace protections with near impunity, knowing that individual employees can rarely afford to take violators to court. 

Abusive policies at one airline can have spillover effects on other carriers, even those protected by the ability of union workers to take group action. Other airlines can use Delta’s ability to dominate workers to justify similar policies to “remain competitive” in contract negotiations.

Ground workers at Delta have enlisted the Machinists and Aerospace Workers Union’s (IAMAW) help to gain union status for years. Likewise, flight crews have reached out to the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA). Now, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters is joining the fight and working to organize the airlines’ Tech Ops workers. 

At the IAMAW Grand Lodge Convention earlier this year, General Vice President Richard Johnsen condemned union rivalries and called for more unified action. Johnsen, who heads the Air Transport Territory, said at the time, “We have to stop fighting other unions,” Johnsen told Machinists union members. “Delta Air Lines — one of the most anti-union companies in the country — has successfully kept unions off their property for their lifetime.”

“Let Delta Air Lines come after the whole labor movement instead of targeting one of us,” he said.



In a statement issued after the alliance was announced, Johnsen laid out the key factors driving the organizing effort for Delta ground workers. Foremost among the changes needed at the airline were consistent work rules, pensions, adequate staffing and safety policies, and a healthier work-life balance. 

The statement continued, “With a union contract, Delta won’t be able to change vacation accrual schedules or anything else unilaterally because, with a union, you have a voice in determining your destiny. With a union comes a union safety committee that can fight for adequate staffing, proper and well-maintained equipment, and union representatives whom you elect and fight for you—not corporate shareholders.”

Delta responded by saying management would prefer to pit individual employees against the company one at a time, in what the airline called a “direct relationship.” Kelly Yamanouchi, writing for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, quoted the airline as saying that this tactic would lead to a “stronger, faster, and more effective way to drive improvements than AFA, IAM, or Teamsters representation would be.” 

The move at Delta comes as employees are unifying at an unprecedented rate across America. According to the National Labor Relations Board, new union filings have shot up by 53% over the last year. This increase is the highest single-year jump since 2016. 

It’s also happening as Ground Operations Crew Members at JetBlue have filed a petition with the National Mediation Board to join the Machinists Union. The Machinists Union is North America’s largest group of transportation, aviation, and aerospace workers. The union’s largest single commercial aviation district, District 141, led by Union President Mike Klemm, is currently negotiating multiple contracts with United Airlines. The agreements cover fleet and customer service workers, security guards, instructors, and load planners at the airline.

Previous contracts negotiated by Machinists Union airline workers include historic pay increases at Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Hawaiian, and Southwest. However, increasingly, workers are asking for workplace improvements, not more money. More and more, a healthier work-life balance has begun to rise to the top of employee priorities. 

At Spirit, workers gained the highest pay rates in the history of the airline, and part-time workers also gained the ability to take vacations – another first for ground workers at the airline. “For some of these workers, this will be the first time they’ve been able to take a paid vacation,” District President Mike Klemm said. “It’s hard to believe that working people are still fighting for things like vacation time in the modern age, but here we are,” he continued. 

Other Machinists Union Contracts negotiated by Machinists Union members include provisions that make mandatory overtime much more expensive and give workers more flexibility in their work schedules. To Klemm, these priorities reflect a new way of thinking about the modern workplace. While wages and job security remain critical factors, unions also address concerns that help build a better life overall. “Family comes first,” President Klemm said of the shift in union values. “Family comes first, second and third,” he continued, pointing out the importance of giving workers the ability to earn high enough wages that afford them the ability to spend more time off the clock. “Delta workers and JetBlue Ground Operations are overworked and undervalued,” he said. “Workers at United, American, Southwest, Hawaiian, and Spirit are ready and willing to fight side by side with them and help win the legally-binding union contracts they deserve.”



Related News

Emirates Hit with $1.8 Million Fine for JetBlue Code Share Flights

Emirates Hit with $1.8 Million Fine for JetBlue Code Share Flights

Emirates Hit with $1.8 Million Fine for JetBlue Code Share FlightsWASHINGTON - The USDOT has fined Emirates Airlines $1.8 million for flying through prohibited airspace over Iraq at an unsafe altitude. The flights were part of a code share agreement with JetBlue...

Unified Airline Workers Gather in Nevada

Unified Airline Workers Gather in Nevada

Unified Airline Workers Gather in NevadaLAS VEGAS - The 2024 Machinists Union District 141 Committee Conference kicked off today in Las Vegas, bringing together over 200 union activists, leaders, and grievance committee members from across the United States.Unified...

Share This