Votes Coming On Representation For Combined Workforce
Delta's hope to realize $2 billion in annual savings by smoothly
and quickly merging operations with those of Northwest Airlines has
hit a snag, and a not-so-unpredictable one.
The Detroit News reports two unions representing more than
16,000 pre-merger employees of Northwest are balking at holding
certification elections needed to fully merge employee groups.
The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA and International
Association of Machinists both stand to win big if the combined
workforce votes for union representation. But a majority of workers
in both crafts come from the Delta side, which was non-union. If
the vote by a combined workforce is "no," that union will lose the
right to represent members from the former Northwest, and millions
in income from dues.
From Delta's perspective, getting seniority and union issues
settled is considered crucial to meeting goals for employee morale
and customer satisfaction.
"...[I]f these recommendations were to be agreed to by
representatives of pre-merger Northwest employees and accepted by
the company, we would have seniority integration issues resolved
for the vast majority of our combined employee groups," said Mike
Campbell, executive vice president of Human Resources and Labor
Relations, in a memo issued Monday to Delta employees. "...I want
to extend my thanks and applaud the efforts of all the seniority
integration teams that have worked to resolve seniority integration
issues from both Delta and Northwest."
The Association of Flight Attendants
says it has not scheduled a vote, but expects one soon. The union
is reportedly pressing the Obama administration to replace Read van
de Water as president of the National Mediation Board, which
oversees the certification votes. Van de Water is a former
Northwest Airlines lobbyist.
The IAM has not scheduled a vote, and has been hostile in its
rhetoric. In response to Delta's call for an election, union
president Stephen Gordon warned, "Be assured that we will not allow
you to roll over our members."
In contrast to the union politics raging within the company,
Delta is moving forward with a unified brand strategy to display to
its customers. A number of Northwest planes are already flying in
the Delta livery, and the airline will debut a single set of
uniforms for use by all domestic employees by the end of this