Could Add 30,000 Workers Combined To Ranks
Though its effects on employee numbers at both airlines remain
unknown, unions at Northwest Airlines are looking towards the
impending merger with Delta Air Lines as an opportunity to grow
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the International
Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers recently opened an
office across the street from Delta's headquarters near
Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, with an eye towards
unionizing Delta's largely non-union workforce once the merger is
IAM members have taken to handing out flyers to Delta employees
as they arrive to work. They're not alone -- the Association of
Flight Attendants is also working closely with employees at both
airlines in an attempt to unionize Delta's 14,000 FAs;
as ANN reported, two earlier attempts to do so
-- in 2001, and again last May -- failed.
That was then, however, and this is now, says AFA spokeswoman
Corey Caldwell. "If this merger goes through and there is to be
another election, this will be one of the largest union elections
in the country," she said, adding Northwest's 7,000 flight
attendants "have a lot to lose if they lose their contract."
Delta is unique among major US
carriers in having a largely non-unionized workforce... a remnant
from the time when Delta was still a family-controlled,
largely-regional airline. Today, only one major employee group is
represented by a union, Delta's 7,000 pilots. About 200 dispatchers
are also unionized.
Those numbers stand in stark contrast to Northwest's
heavily-unionized workforce. Employees at that airline -- which is
slated to be absorbed into Delta in the coming years, should the
merger go through -- are represented by Air Line Pilots
Association, the Association of Flight Attendants, the
International Association of Machinists, and the Transport Workers
Union... among many others.
For those unions, the Delta/NWA merger represents an opportunity
to grow their ranks by some 30,000 workers combined. "Delta has
always been the most anti-union airline," says Gary Mobley, IAM's
Atlanta representative. "We're trying to write a new chapter where
we're able to organize it."
"Our goal is to organize the Delta workers regardless of whether
there's a merger or not," adds IAM spokesman Joe Tiberi.