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From Yahoo and PR Newswire
Friday February 1, 2:05 pm Eastern Time

Press Release

SOURCE: Association of Flight Attendants, AFL-CIO

Delta Air Lines Management Uses 9-11, Illegal Tactics to Interfere with Flight Attendants' Historic Vote

WASHINGTON, Feb. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Delta Air Lines management's exploitation of the 9-11 tragedy as part of an illegal campaign to interfere with the flight attendants' vote was decisive in discouraging enough flight attendants from voting in the largest ever union election in the airline industry. With fewer than 50 percent of the eligible flight attendants returning their ballots, the National Mediation Board could not certify the Association of Flight Attendants, AFL-CIO, as the flight attendants' representative after the mail-in ballots were counted today.

Even though AFA received 98 percent of the valid ballots cast, AFA will not be certified as the bargaining representative for the Delta flight attendants under NMB rules. Of the 19,033 eligible voters, a total of 5,609 ballots were returned. 5,520 votes were cast for AFA and 89 votes were cast for ``other.''

``In America, democratic elections are supposed to express the voice of the people,'' said AFA International President Patricia Friend. ``In this election, the flight attendants' voices were silenced by fear and intimidation. Now the American government must act to punish Delta for violating the rights of its workers and silencing their voices.''

According to hundreds of flight attendant reports, Delta didn't just discuss the effects of 9-11 on the airline, management used 9-11 to make flight attendants fear for their jobs if they voted for the union. It is illegal to threaten workers with a loss of their job to intimidate them into not supporting a campaign to join a union.

Delta management engaged in various tactics to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, going so far as to tell the over 3,000 laid off flight attendants that they were not eligible to vote, to keep them from returning their ballots. In fact, all laid off flight attendants were eligible to vote.

``Videos of our CEO played continuously in our crew rooms,'' said Seattle- based flight attendant Mike Trau. ``He kept repeating the threats 9-11 have placed on our airline and talking about our family atmosphere, then he'd instruct us to rip up our ballots.'' Not returning your ballot in an NMB election is a ``no'' vote.

On Sept. 12, Delta began conducting weekly conference calls that were censored so that pro-union flight attendants were not permitted to ask questions. Other departments at Delta do not have these conference calls, only flight attendants.

Delta communications with flight attendants during the election period inextricably linked Delta's survival to defeating the union effort. These communications included:

    *  Letters and videos from senior management to the homes of flight
       attendants implicitly threatening flight attendants with job loss if
       they unionized;

    *  Supervisors illegally questioning AFA supporters asking, "How can you
       support a union at a time like this?"

    *  Management constantly referring to the job losses in the industry in
       the wake of 9-11 and falsely promoting Delta's lay-off plans as better
       than those at unionized carriers.

    *  One-on-one meetings where supervisors would take aside flight
       attendants they identified as AFA supporters and grill them on their
       support for the union, in many cases saying that support was anti-

``There is a reason that interference with a worker's right to freely choose to join a union is illegal -- it works,'' said Friend. ``Delta's entire campaign focused on creating fear and uncertainty in flight attendants' minds.''

``While we were grieving for the loss of our co-workers on those planes on 9-11, Delta management used our fears and anxiety against us,'' said Los Angeles-based flight attendant Lorraine York. ``Delta illegally interfered with our rights as American workers before the terrorist attacks. But that paled in comparison to management's exploitation of our national tragedy,'' said Atlanta-based flight attendant John Jablonski.

A majority of Delta's 19,000 flight attendants had signed representation cards by August 2001, when AFA filed a petition for an election with the NMB. On September 6, 2001, AFA also filed hundreds of flight attendant affidavits with the NMB charging illegal interference -- including intimidation, threats and surveillance -- by Delta management.

In October 2001, the NMB found that the flight attendant claims presented a prima facie case of illegal conduct against Delta (to view the NMB's decision, visit http://www.afanet.org ). But rather than take action to charge Delta with illegal conduct and provide the flight attendants with an atmosphere free from intimidation when voting, the NMB held off further investigation and hearings on the charges until after the election.

The NMB set the flight attendant election ballots to be mailed to flight attendants' homes on Dec. 7, 2001. Ballots for elections conducted under the auspices of the NMB are usually mailed from the NMB's headquarters in Washington, D.C. But because of anthrax contamination fears, the NMB altered its process and had all ballots mailed and returned to Chicago, and extended the usual 30-day balloting process by 30 additional days. Ballots were shipped in bulk to the NMB's Washington, D.C., office and counted today.

The NMB will immediately begin a full-scale investigation into the charges of illegal conduct by Delta management. If the NMB finds sufficient evidence that illegal interference occurred, it can set a new election, possibly changing the balloting procedures to make the balloting process less likely to be influenced by Delta's illegal conduct.

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 representation.

Almost 50,000 flight attendants at 26 carriers have joined together to form AFA, the largest flight attendant union in the world. Visit AFA @ http://www.afanet.org .

SOURCE: Association of Flight Attendants, AFL-CIO




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