Over 19,000 Delta Air Lines Ground Workers Request A Policy Of Neutrality Regarding Unionization

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  • Delta Air Lines employees seek neutrality in the unionization process to ensure fair voting opportunities.
  • Despite Congress’s and employees’ urges, Delta’s CEO’s response to neutrality was unsatisfactory.
  • Delta employees have requested that Congress demand a clear answer from the CEO on remaining neutral in the unionization process.

On 26 March 2024, over 16,000 Delta Air Lines employees across the country demonstrated their support for Congress’s recent calls for the airline’s management to remain neutral in the staff’s unionization efforts. Despite urges from lawmakers as well as from its own employees, Delta’s responses to the situation have proven unsatisfactory.

Neutrality during the unionization process is critical for ensuring that staff are able to best decide if a union fits their goals and needs without being influenced by upper-level management like the airline’s CEO, Ed Bastian. When responding to Congress, Bastian’s failure to acknowledge Delta’s alleged interference in the unionization process continues to create concerns.

Photo: Robin Guess | Shutterstock

With Bastian and Delta’s c-suite unable to commit to complete neutrality in the unionization process, the carrier’s employees are seeking additional action from Congress. According to the airline’s staff, it is not important whether individual employees are for or against unionization, but rather that all have a fair opportunity to take part in the voting process to determine whether to unionize.

Broad support

The carrier’s employees are seeking to gain union organization rights from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), a massive multinational trade union with an extensive history of supporting worker’s rights since 1888. A selection of Delta employees from across the country published a letter to Congress on 26 March 2024, addressing Bastian’s concerning response to lawmaker’s initial neutrality request.

A Delta Air Lines Boeing 737-900ER taking off

Photo: Markus Mainka | Shutterstock

The letter, which included support from Delta employees across 46 different airports, called firmly for Bastian to declare Delta’s official neutrality in the vote. Specifically, the staff’s request was expressed as follows:

“We respectfully request that you demand an answer to your request that Mr. Bastian adopt a policy of neutrality in worker organizing at Delta Air Lines. We need a Yes or No answer.”

The employees went further, even suggesting the next steps in the event that Bastian failed to respond to a direct request from Congress for the airline’s neutrality. Should the CEO do so, the company’s workers would seek a public hearing before Congress on the issue of unionization, one that could be fully free from management influence.


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A problematic history

Earlier this year, on 13 February 2024, a group of 140 members of Congress, including high-profile representatives like New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, urged Delta to remain neutral on account of its problematic history regarding union relations. According to Reuters, members of Congress were quick to indicate that the airline maintained a reputation for deploying union-busting tactics.

Delta Air Lines Airbus A350-941 landing at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.

Photo: Kevin Hackert | Shutterstock

Such tactics can significantly sway workers away from unionizing, including threatening the termination of employee benefits and distributing anti-union literature. Some lawmakers even indicated that an anti-union website was created, one which conveyed the pro-union campaign in a hostile manner.

With this in mind, a request for a neutrality agreement does not seem like too much to ask. According to lawmakers, such an agreement would only consist of Delta agreeing not to take part in anti-union pre-election activities. In the eyes of Delta employees, the decision to unionize should be theirs alone.

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