Flight Attendants' Rights Trampled by Republican-Controlled Mediation
Independent Board Shows Blatant Partisanship
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WASHINGTON, DC --In a shameful and contradictory decision,
the National Mediation Board ignored precedent and the facts, rewrote the
rules of company interference and issued a purely political decision to
deny Delta Air Lines flight attendants the right to participate in a free
and fair union election.
Board member Harry Hoglander stated in a rare dissenting opinion, "In
their decision today, the Board majority fails to explain that their
decision is a significant departure from Board precedent. In an attempt to
justify and accept conduct which unquestionably 'tainted laboratory
conditions,' the Board majority states they are 'troubled' and 'disturbed'
by Delta's conduct. The majority's decision now creates a gray area of
legally allowable conduct: that which is 'troubling,' but does not
constitute interference. I am at a loss to understand this tortured
In October 2001 the Board issued a preliminary finding of a prima facie
case of interference by Delta. To reinforce the case, AFA filed hundreds
of additional charges of interference made by Delta flight attendants
against the company.
The decision handed down today is a 180-degree turn from the Board's
preliminary decision. However, since 2001, political control of the Board
has shifted with the appointment of two new Republican members this past
summer, to reflect the anti-worker republican agenda championed by the
While the finding of facts in the Delta case clearly warranted a new
election, the NMB created a new rule to benefit Delta Air Lines and denied
the workers a new election. By deciding to limit the investigation to the
one-year period preceding the election, the Board in effect nullified a
significant amount of evidence that led to the prima facie finding.
"This decision makes it official, corporate America owns and operates
Washington, DC," said the Association of Flight Attendants
International President Patricia Friend. "Those in the government who
are paid with our tax dollars to protect worker rights, have failed us. It
appears this Board lacks any independence whatsoever and is, instead, in
lockstep with the White House's pro-corporation agenda."
Delta silenced flight attendants' voices through a campaign of fear and
intimidation that was wholly un-American. Most reprehensibly, the airline
used the fear and uncertainty that came after the September 11 terrorist
attacks to label union supporters as anti-Delta and un-American.
Delta touts its 'family atmosphere' and promise that it puts 'employees
first' in the media. But Delta hasn't been delivering on its promises.
Management has laid off workers, changed the terms of voluntary furloughs
after the furloughs had taken place, failed to hold recalls in seniority
order, changed the pension plan to a cash-balance plan, which will mean
significantly reduced pensions for thousands of Delta flight attendants,
closed flight attendant bases and developed a plan for a low-cost airline
where flight attendants could be forced to work longer hours for less pay
-- all without input from their non-union workers.
Without a union, the Delta flight attendants have no voice in the future
of their airline or the rapid changes that are taking place across the
airline industry. With the potential for significantly more layoffs as the
industry continues to struggle, and the real possibility of management
imposed pay cuts, Delta flight attendants need a voice more than ever.
With close to 20,000 flight attendants involved, the Delta vote was the
largest private-sector union election in more than 30 years. Delta is the
only major U.S. air carrier whose flight attendants do not have union
Almost 50,000 flight attendants at 26 carriers have joined together to
form AFA, the largest flight attendant union in the world. Visit us @