Great moments in union busting

The compensation for the CEO of Delta airlines is $22 million but for some its employees, such as those who work to load and unload baggage, can be as low as $9 per hour. So naturally employees are considering forming a union. But in an effort to thwart those moves, Delta has put out posters telling workers that they would do better to use their union dues to purchase video games and alcohol.

In its latest offensive to beat back unionization, Delta Air Lines displays total contempt for labor unions and an astonishing ignorance about what unions have accomplished to lift American workers.

Delta has a new anti-union poster that tells employees, “A new video game system with the latest hits sounds like fun. Put your money towards that instead of paying dues to the union.” Another Delta poster estimates that union dues cost $700 a year and says, “Nothing’s more enjoyable than a night out watching football with your buddies. All those union dues you pay every year could buy a few rounds.”

Economic studies have found that union members earn 13.6% more than comparable non-union workers, after adjusting for education, age and other factors. That means a Delta flight attendant who earns $60,000 a year might see her compensation rise by over $7,000 a year (far more than $700) if her pay rose 13.6% as a result of Delta’s flight attendants unionizing. Only Delta’s pilots and dispatchers are unionized although many of its flight attendants, baggage handlers and ramp workers are eager to unionize. Delta boasts that it provides the best pay and profit-sharing in the airline industry, although its employees often complain they have to pay more for health coverage than workers at other airlines.

Delta also is issuing threats of various kinds.

At times, Delta’s anti-union campaign has been disingenuous. It warns its workers that if they vote to unionize, it could take years – it cites one case that took seven years – for their union to negotiate a first contract (during which the company might not provide any raises). Delta also cautions that if the workers unionize, their pay and vacation time “could be negatively affected”. There’s just one reason why contract talks could drag on for years and pay “could be negatively affected” and that’s because some companies play vindictive hardball to make life tough for the union and convince workers they made a mistake in unionizing.

Regarding Delta’s new, anti-union posters, Nelson said, “The contempt for workers is so ingrained in these people they just can’t help themselves sometimes. This was one of those times.”

It is quite extraordinary how oblivious some people in management can be.


  1. Holms says

    Baggage handlers could bring the entire flight network down with a single sit-in. Delta had best be careful.

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