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Pat Friend Says Delta Treats Us Well!

At the (2001) AFL-CIO convention in Las Vegas, there were two speakers that gave their version of the organizing campaign at Delta. One of the speeches was given by one of our own, a Delta flight attendant. The other speech was given by an outsider whose future in the Labor movement depends on successfully organizing Delta. These speeches were both tightly edited and persuasive. However, both speeches gave a skewed impression of flight attendant conditions at Delta.

Patricia Friend, President of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), described the Delta organizing campaign from the viewpoint of a union president. She outlined the reasons why the AFA needs Delta.

Most of those reasons contained an undertone of her fear of Delta. While our activists claim to be pro-Delta and pro-AFA, the President of the AFA is definitely not pro-Delta.

However, we able to learn by listening to what Ms. Friend said and what she did not say. For example, we did not know the following facts:

The AFA Delta Campaign is :

The largest private sector organizing campaign since 1968.
The largest campaign under Railway Labor Act since 1965.
The largest campaign in the airline industry ever.

The AFL-CIO has been helping the AFA by supplying labor for phone banking, making house visits, and leafleting.

9000 AFA members have been laid off since September 11, 2001.

Ms. Friend made some interesting comments in her speech. We have listed a few excerpts:

"Over the years, Delta Airlines has maintained its union free status by keeping its wages up near the top of the industry and basically treating its employees well."

"It is truly amazing that in an industry with a workforce that is over 85% organized, one airline could have such a big impact, but as we face the prospect of mergers, consolidation, and globalization, the potential for Delta to grow is almost a certainty. A bigger, global, non union Delta will only increase the dominance of this company in our industry and that would have a dramatic effect on all flight attendants and on our bargaining power. Just as Delta management has had an impact at our bargaining table for years, we are determined to get a seat at theirs. "

We admit that we have taken these quotes out of context.  You should listen to Ms. Friend's speech for yourself. Analyze her speech, think critically about what she is saying and what she is not. Didnít Ms. Friend say that Delta has traditionally treated its employees well? Didnít Ms. Friend express a concern about the impact of a well-run, expanding Delta on her union? Didnít she say that the AFA has spent millions on the Delta campaign?

After watching her speech, you will be left with the feeling that she needs us more than we need her. She is afraid of Delta because Delta is expanding at the expense of her AFA controlled carriers. She is afraid of Delta because she cannot control Delta. Letís not give HER a voice at OUR table

AFL-CIO Convention December 2001 Patricia Friend Speech

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Last modified: December 13, 2008