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Traveling The Civil Rights (Union Rights) Road to MEM

It’s a six-hour drive from ATL to MEM, through the heart of the South, on I-20 and I-22. It’s a drive that more than a dozen Delta Air Lines workers and Southwest Airlines workers made to visit the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. In 1968, Memphis was the site of a pitched battle between the white power structure of the time and more than 1,000 Black sanitation men over the question of whether they would have dignity and a union or not. It is also where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated while defending the human rights, civil rights, and union rights of these workers.

Delta Air Lines executives have said they are committed to equity and inclusion and to the legacy of MLK Jr. They have put this in print. They have broadcast it through videos. They have proclaimed it in speeches. And yet they have really only embraced a small portion of the civil rights legacy. They have stood staunchly against MLK’s strong belief in the necessity of unions to raise up all workers, but in particular Black workers. 

Delta workers invited corporate executives to join them in MEM as a way to put actual substance beyond words in taking action to show up for the full MLK legacy, which includes the right to organize a union. This was done in MLK’s spirit of reconciliation. They unfortunately showed no interest and chose not to come. 

That didn’t stop this group, joined by local Memphis unions and activists, from holding a press conference to explain that they had come to claim the complete heritage of the Civil Rights movement. They asked Delta to stop interfering in efforts to have a union election. They asked Delta to stop calling police on union organizers, a common tactic used against civil rights activists. They asked that Delta simply allow them the right to vote on a union election without harassment.

Meeting with Pilots Union

We will have more details in the issue of Blue Notes that follows this one, but we wanted to let every ramp, cargo and tower worker know that on Wednesday, Nov. 15, we met with the leadership of the pilots union (ALPA/Delta) at their invitation. We discussed how ALPA might assist us (as well as the flight attendants and mechanics) in gaining a union. In short, they are ready to assist us in a variety of very visible ways. This is the beginning of a very powerful coalition. Stay tuned for more on this.

So Much For Equity (From a Delta Flight Attendant)

So, the pilots are getting 270 hours of PPT, and we’re getting a whopping 56. We work in a literal petri dish, and they stay locked behind a door.

17% match on their 401(k). Us????

I’ll never expect pay like theirs, and don’t begrudge them for what they are paid, but we all deserve the same benefits. We all work hard to make this company what it is. Thank you emails, free yogurt, sandwiches and free pizza just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Delta Representative speaking to the media

“Delta’s direct relationship is a stronger, faster, and more effective way to drive improvements than representation from these unions would be. Our people benefit from their direct relationship by driving changes at Delta each and every day.”

Let’s fact check this statement: Delta’s “direct relationship” isn’t stronger, it isn’t faster, nor is it more effective. Look around… Delta is stalling. They’re waiting to see what our unionized peers are able to negotiate for themselves BEFORE making a move on our compensation. Delta’s “direct relationship” is a drag on the industry as unionized employees negotiate with their carriers who are forced to compete with Delta who has historically bragged about having the lowest cost structure of any hub and spoke carrier.

Truth be told, we lead the industry in catchy slogans and pizza parties. If we want to be industry leading in total compensation, then we must stand up, demand it and organize a union for the workers . It’s time we negotiate a compensation package that has the rest of the industry working to catch us as we are deserving!

Retroactive Discipline?

Asking for a friend… An employee had COVID back in January 2023 on what they thought was their fifth day of work. It was their fourth day and although they tested negative, they flew back! They were unintentionally in violation of the policy!

They went on leave in late January 2023 and didn’t return to work till yesterday Oct. 25. The COVID rules in place at the time are no longer active as Delta ended all COVID rules in May.

Long story short, they were placed on suspension for this on their second back at work.

Can you get retroactively disciplined? Is this allowed? Would a union allow this to happen, if we had one? The short answer is NO. Union contracts give strict limits on time frames in which the company must act on discipline. This would clearly fall outside of any timeline that exists in a union contract, which is usually around 15 days. 

Tired of Not Getting Paid

I’m seasonal, at PHX. I work a six hour shift (0900-1530) and a few weeks ago, I did not receive my unpaid lunch break. A flight I was working took a delay after we loaded, so the time I would have had was essentially gone. We ended up waiting for maintenance to give us the go; every five minutes they told us it’d only be a few more and so on. The longest amount of time in between assignments was around 25 minutes, not the full 30 minutes. A lunch was never assigned to my line.

Getting paid for this has been like pulling teeth. I don’t think I will. I’ve spoken with my OSM and the station manager, too. All this time and effort for basically $12. But for me, it really is the principle of the thing. I can’t even get them to just ensure that a lunch will be assigned to my line so that this issue doesn’t happen again.

I’ve worked here for just over 11 years. I was ready reserve the entire time before.  I’m just tired of the gaslighting and for these managers to speak to you out of both sides of their mouths. Every airline that has union representation has very specific language and guidelines regarding breaks in their collective bargaining agreements.

I know there are managers and folks at the GO who read these posts. My message to them is that I am just down right tired at the lack of respect. I have done the work for cheap for over a decade and you still can’t do something as simple as guarantee that I get my unpaid lunch break. That is why I signed a card and will vote for a union when the time comes.

Thanks for coming to my TEDTalk.

Attention, Supply Attendants

In recent weeks, we have seen a big uptick in union interest among Delta supply attendants. While the IAM is not currently trying to conduct an election for this group, we do want to start preparations for a union drive for this group. If you are a supply attendant that is interested in signing a union card or helping collect cards from your coworkers, please visit 

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

According to an informed source, a Delta Regional Vice President liked a post on Delta Workers Unite Facebook group with a thumbs up emoji, then spent a good amount of time trying to figure out how to unlike it. We do try to make it interesting.    

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