On October 6, 2004 the Association of Flight
Attendants-Communications Workers of America ("afa-CWA") had a
meeting in Atlanta for activists. It announced that it was launching yet
another campaign to try to organize us. The deltaafa.org website has been
updated. It now has a "Letter to Supervisors" crafted by an
afa-CWA lawyer, an interference report, and other tools to try to pump up
the activists. All of this means that we will be facing increased negativity in our
work environment as its activists try to cajole us into supporting the
While we are still ramping up our effort to oppose the afa-CWA, we have
listed some preliminary issues for you to keep in mind when listening to
The AFA as an independent entity no longer exists.
This new campaign is not a campaign to join a union by flight
attendants for flight attendants. Why? The Association of Flight
Attendants ("afa") is no more. The afa is now a tiny part of a
larger union, the Communications Workers of America("CWA"). Who
does the CWA represent? Mr. Telephone man. That’s right, the people that
come to your house and fix your telephone. The CWA also represents the
people that sit behind desks in call centers. That is those people that
are still left in the United States. The CWA does not represent those jobs
that it let get outsourced to India, but we digress.
Signing an authorization card for the afa-CWA means that you want to
belong to a large multi-class and multi-craft union. The sheer size of the
CWA means that the afa is a small minority and will have a correspondingly
small voice in directing the larger union.
Currently, the trend in our industry is for workers to be represented
by smaller independent unions like AMFA or PFAA. These are unions that
represent only a single craft or a single craft at a single company. By
subjugating itself and becoming a small part of a large union, the afa
became an example of where representation in our industry is not heading.
Once again, the afa did the wrong thing at the wrong time.
The afa-CWA is too inept to seize initiative, even in organizing.
Speaking of doing the wrong thing at the wrong time, we think that it
is a little odd that the afa-CWA is announcing its campaign now. If the
afa-CWA really had its act together, it would have started its campaign
early this year when the "Finding a Better Way" concessions were
announced. At that time, we were mad. The company was caught
disingenuously telling us that a pay cut was really not a pay cut when we
all could plainly see that it was. Leo’s departure and the bankruptcy -
proof pensions were still fresh on our minds. Yet, at the time we were
most ripe for the taking, where was the afa-CWA? Where were the activists
It missed the golden opportunity to organize us. This inability to
capitalize on this gift from Management is just another in the string of
tactical blunders characterizes the daily operation of the afa-CWA These
blunders are endemic to the afa-CWA, and we Deltafa.org feel that the
afa-CWA is just too inept to represent us.
The afa-CWA cannot guarantee wages or work rules for its current
Our activists ignore the blunders of the afa-CWA. To them, it is a
panacea that will solve all of their (our) problems. They do not see the
afa-CWA as inept. Our activists will say that a union would keep Delta
from eroding our pay, benefits and work rules. However, the afa-CWA’s
track record does not support this statement. At United, the company
delivered a term sheet to the afa-CWA outlining what concessions that it
felt were necessary for United to survive. While there were some changes
to the list in the end, the afa-CWA granted the same magnitude of
concessions to the company. At United, the afa-CWA did not keep management
from eroding work rules, pay, and benefits. See the United
At US Airways, the afa-CWA has been through multiple rounds of
concessions. Now, the management at US Airways is coming back for more. In
their second bankruptcy, their management is asking all employees for
additional concessions in the range of 23 percent. At US Airways, the
afa-CWA has been unable to prevent the prior rounds of concessions. Now in
bankruptcy court, the decision will be left up to a judge if the afa-CWA
does not capitulate again on its own. See the afa-CWA
As the afa-CWA’s track record at United and US Airways proves, the
afa-CWA cannot prevent the erosion of pay, benefits, and work rules.
Had we elected the afa-CWA in the last campaign, we still would have
had changes to our work rules and pay.
Our activists selectively ignore the track record of the afa-CWA in
avoiding give backs. In fact, many are fond of saying that if we had
elected the afa-CWA in the last campaign, we would not have had the
changes to our work rules and benefits. However, those activists are
either misinformed or actively trying to mislead you.
The current state of the law is that the status quo is not
maintained between the election of a union and a first contract. This
means that Delta could have unilaterally imposed any changes that it
wanted as long as it was for business purposes, and the afa-CWA could have
done nothing but issue another of their ineffectual, whiney "life is
not fair" press releases. See Our New Work Rules and Union Protection
for a more detailed explanation.
The afa-CWA will bring infighting and lack of direction.
Think that an afa-CWA Delta will not be ineffectual and whiney? Want a
taste of potential meetings in a hypothetical afa-CWA represented world?
Subscribe and read Jointogether, the afa-CWA list serv. Even though the
e-mail is tightly scripted and heavily edited to be "on
message," it still has infighting. Many of the people who are
contributing now will be the people in power later. While there are some
gifted activists, on the whole, they scare us. Many of the participants
clearly do not have the capacity to act as our representatives. Sure, they
whine, but they offer no solutions past the statement "we need a
union and a legally binding contract."
Deltafa.org supports subscribing to Jointogether. It will open your
eyes to a potential future.
Even its members do not like the afa-CWA.
The potential future in an afa-CWA represented world is not a pleasant
one. Even if we wanted a union, we would not support the afa-CWA. One of
the best indicators of the effectiveness of a union is the opinion of its
members. If a union’s membership is unhappy with the performance their
union, it indicates that the union has severe problems. The afa-CWA has
many unhappy members.
For example, the largest airline represented by the afa-CWA is United
Airlines. At United, a group of flight attendants have banded together to
form the United Flight Attendants Union "UFAU." The goal of the
UFAU is to replace the afa-CWA at United. This movement is a real threat,
and the afa-CWA is taking the UFAU
seriously. For more information about the UFAU and the reasons why we
believe that the afa-CWA will be replaced at United, see the UFAU
Electing the afa-CWA now does not make sense.
As we have stated before, the status quo is not maintained when a union
is elected. Everything is up for negotiation. The process takes years, and
we would be unprotected against further concessions during this period.
We are in an industry downturn, and our company is in trouble. Most
likely, Delta will be in Bankruptcy before Thanksgiving. Delta owes
billions and our revenue from operations is not servicing our debt. Oil
has passed fifty dollars a barrel and is expected to reach sixty dollars a
barrel. Costs will continue to be high for the foreseeable future. Without
money for increases to our pay and benefits, there is no way that the
afa-CWA could bring home meaningful increases.
Although the campaign is new, the underlying truth is still the same.
We bring more to the afa-CWA in dues and headcount than they bring to us
in tangible benefits. If at some time, the afa-CWA could demonstrate a
definite advantage, we would change our opinion.
However, electing the afa-CWA now would be like locking in a mortgage
when the interest rate is high. It just does not make sense.