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An Open Letter to Our AFA Represented Colleagues

February 3, 2002

Dear Flight Attendant Colleagues:

Many of you are wondering about the recent election in which the AFA was so soundly defeated. Your President, Patricia Friend, has been telling you for years that the AFA would win this election and organize Delta. Now, she is now blaming her failure to organize Delta on massive interference by Delta management. Quite frankly, this is not true.

If any of you had taken the time to talk with a Delta line flight attendant over the past six years, you would have found limited support for the AFA. While there were a few disgruntled Delta flight attendants "leading on" your AFA leadership, much of the burden of this drive was carried by AFA member, lost time compensated, "volunteers."

The AFA forced the Delta campaign forward by spending money. Estimates are that the AFA spent six million of your hard earned dollars on the Delta campaign. These many millions paid for a group of AFA members and organizers to conduct a massive public relations campaign to try to change our minds about the AFA. We see now just how miserably they failed. 

We understand that many of you support your union and feel that the AFA does an excellent job of representing your interests. Some of you feel that the AFA is an ineffective bureaucracy that has more interest in expanding than taking care of business at home. Some of you just do not care one way or another. Regardless of how you feel about the AFA’s competency, the fact is that your AFA leadership has consistently misrepresented the AFA’s chances of winning.

To recap, the AFA Delta campaign was the largest private sector organizing campaign since 1968. It was the largest campaign under the Railway Labor Act since 1965, and the largest campaign ever in the airline industry. Only 29% of Delta flight attendants voted for the AFA. In a standard National Mediation Board (NMB) election, the only way to vote "no" is to not return a ballot. In this election, 71% of us voted no the only way we could. We shredded our ballots.  We threw them away.  We burned them.  We put them in drawers.  We did everything but mail the ballots to the NMB.

What this all means is the Association of Flight Attendants has just suffered the largest defeat in recent history at the hands of the Delta flight attendants. The problem was the signs of this defeat were there for anyone who looked.

However, the AFA ignored the signs. It ignored them because your leadership was determined to expand its power base and influence. The AFA threw money at Delta in a desperate gamble. The gamble did not pay off. At a time when AFA members needed the support of their union the most, the AFA was not there for you. While the UAL pilots received large wage increases, the AFA was in Atlanta. While a supposedly iron clad "no furlough" clause was ignored by US Airways management, the AFA’s legal resources were at the NMB arguing Delta issues. When Midway flight attendants were left jobless when the carrier went bankrupt, the AFA resources were spread too thinly to help. When the Leo Mullin engineered government bailout occurred and Midway management recalled flight attendants out of seniority order, the AFA was in Atlanta worrying about the recall of Delta flight attendants on Voluntary Leave status.

The AFA has not done enough to help you. Why? The misplaced priorities of your AFA leadership has overextended your union. Instead of spending the six million dollars on you, the AFA squandered it on Delta organizing. While many of you were working short staffed, working first class without linens, or not working at all, the AFA was paying the way for its chosen few to go to Atlanta and live their lives on a union expense account. While some of you were in unemployment lines, the AFA’s chosen volunteers were "organizing" in Atlanta with their lodging, meals, and entertainment expenses subsidized by your dues. Your leadership and these volunteers never told you that the AFA had very little chance of organizing Delta. This was unconscionable.

However, this is all water under the bridge. The money has been spent without any return.

According to Patricia Friend in her December 2001 speech at the AFL-CIO convention, 9,000 AFA members are out of work. Although flight attendants are being recalled, the worst case scenario would be that your union could soon experience a $351,000 (9,000 out of work members x $39) per month revenue short fall. This could add up to a $4,212,000 yearly decline in union revenue. This revenue shortfall may break the AFA bank.

Those of us who have been against this organizing drive from the beginning are saddened at this waste of resources. We feel that it has been unfair to those of you who paid the bills for this ill fated AFA adventure. Some of us even feel a bit guilty.

To stop this madness, we ask that your go and talk to your Local Executive Council members. E-mail your LEC Presidents. Tell them enough is enough. Tell them to send the message to AFA International to drop the election contest. Tell them that the Delta flight attendants have made their choice. It is time for the AFA to return to serving its own membership.

If we ever need the AFA, we know that you are there. We will bring our signatures to you at no cost. Do not ever again let your leadership talk you into another organizing debacle.

We appreciate your taking the time to read this letter. If you agree or disagree with our position, feel free to drop by our website www.deltafa.org and use our message board to sound off.


Respectfully submitted,



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Last modified: December 13, 2008