The massive airline union IAM is in the midst of trying to unionize Delta's flight attendants and ground workers. Delta brass isn't happy with it – go figure, unions generally increase pay for workers (and costs for the airline).
But the airline's response hasn't landed well.
— Paul Thompson (@FlyingPhotog) May 10, 2019
That's right. Delta's argument is that rather than putting money toward roughly $700 in annual union dues, Delta employees should buy video games. A second poster suggested employees would be better off putting off union dues toward a football game with friends: “All those union dues you pay every year could buy a few rounds.”
It's unclear where these posters first cropped up, but it's part of Delta's concerted effort to convince employees not to join the union – a years-long effort, and the latest of several past failed efforts. Delta has also launched a website called DontRiskItDontSignIt.com to warn employees not to join the union.
The airline's efforts aren't going over well.
From massive memes to major Democratic politicians, the campaign has sparked a swift outcry of attempted union-busting.
Delta told employees to buy video games instead of forming a union. What a disgrace.
Delta's CEO made nearly $22 million in 2017 while paying ramp agents as little as $9/hour.
I say to Delta: Stop trying to undercut workers' right to form a union and negotiate for better wages. https://t.co/8fx30jIfJf
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) May 9, 2019
A Delta spokeswoman would not confirm the authenticity of the posters to the Washington Post.
“Our employees have the best total compensation in the industry, including the most lucrative profit sharing program in the world,” the airline said in a statement. “They want and deserve the facts and we respect our employees’ right to decide if a union is right for them. Delta has shared many communications, which on the whole make clear that deciding whether or not to unionize should not be taken lightly.”
Delta is trying to protect its bottom line, and that's understandable. Labor is an airline's biggest cost, and there's no doubt that unions make those costs larger by fighting for better pay.
Good relationships with flight attendants, pilots, and other employees are critical for airlines. While United and American Airlines have at times struggled with their flight attendant unions, Delta has traditionally had a pretty good relationship with its flight attendants.
But Delta needs to be careful. This campaign has clearly backfired by riling up flight attendants with patronizing language about how best to spend their money while trying to undercut the efforts to unionize. And as this fight spills into public view, it could really turn against Delta.
This could get ugly. Flight attendants' past efforts to unionize have failed, but if the flying public gets on their side, that may change.
Lead photo courtesy of Delta Newshub via Flickr