|Friday February 1, 2:05 pm Eastern Time
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
* Letters and videos from senior management to the homes of flight
attendants implicitly threatening flight attendants with job loss if
* 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
``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
Almost 50,000 flight attendants at 26 carriers have joined together to
form AFA, the largest flight attendant union in the world. Visit AFA @
SOURCE: Association of Flight Attendants, AFL-CIO