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Our Voices: A Delta Flight Attendant Explains Why Union Representation is Needed

FA-VoiceI am reading the Pilot opener. Wow. My heart is racing and I feel anxious. And sad. So sad. As I ponder our current situation of "at will" status, I can't help but wonder what our openers would be if we were in a contract negotiations for the Delta Flight Attendants. We deserve the industry's best pay, benefits and work-rules, just as Delta Pilots do. But that's not our reality.

Delta is one of the most profitable airlines in the industry, largely due to our past sacrifices, our day to day contributions and our professionalism. Delta is now run by an executive team which, in their own words from the recent Investor Day Conference, "treats the operation as a business, not a club."

Yes, a business. Not a club. Not a family. A business. Seems to me, we may want some say in those business decisions that invariably affect our lives. Just as Delta Pilots do.

The relationship the Delta Pilots have with Delta management is mature, business-like and rooted in mutual respect. Yet our relationship with Delta management is more like child and parent. Guess who's the child.

The Delta Flight Attendant is a true professional. A resilient first responder and protector of aircraft and passengers. A vast majority of us have dedicated decades of service through all kinds of financial, social and economic ups and downs. Experiencing good times and weathering the bad times, which have at times resulted in pay cuts and a diminished quality of life.

Fast forward to now. The best times ever financially, yet we still see our company slowly removing, lessening or degrading aspects of our wages, benefits and working conditions. We have not been restored to our pre-bankruptcy total compensation. Things like vacation, sick-time, health care costs, work rules, duty and rest parameters and many, many other items.

Most recently our "Shared Rewards" formula has been altered, our profit sharing calculations slashed, our health care costs increased and our working space severely altered and diminished. All in the name of profit and revenue. All in the best financial times ever.

The Delta Flight Attendants work every day to differentiate Delta from our competitors. Not only through our focus on safety, but also by providing world class customer service. We applaud the fact that Delta Air Lines is a clear leader in our industry in terms of profitability, operational performance and customer satisfaction.

However, Delta did not rise from the ashes of bankruptcy to post successive record breaking years of profit without our sacrifices. Delta Flight Attendants' compensation should reflect the financial concessions that were instrumental to Delta's survival, but also the unique Flight Attendant skill-set and dedication that have been crucial to propelling Delta beyond industry standard in corporate performance.

So, I ask you to read the Delta Pilot opener, and see for yourself what a mature, professional relationship looks like and then ask yourself: Do I want to continue to wait, wonder and hope for my quality of life improvements and future protections?

Or, do I want a choice? A choice to negotiate professionally for my future and for the continued advancement of our profession.

I know how I feel. I have signed my authorization card and ask you to do the same.

We deserve the right to have a fair election and to let the most valued Flight Attendants have their voices heard.

--Laurie Gandrud, 25-year Delta Flight Attendant

Read the Delta Pilots' openers here.

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