It could cost new-hire flight attendants the equivalent of boarding 56 domestic flights to pay their annual union dues to the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) should crew at the Atlanta-based carrier decide to unionize, an employee-led group who are opposing the union drive claim.
Delta made history last month when it announced it would become the first major U.S. airline to pay flight attendants during boarding. The payment will be capped at just 50 percent of a flight attendant’s usual hourly rate but crew could still enjoy a $4,000+ annual pay uplift.
The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) believes the boarding pay move was a thinly veiled attempt to dissuade Delta flight attendants to reject unionization. AFA is currently in the midst of a renewed unionization drive after three failed attempts in the last two decades.
The union has argued that just the threat of unionization has pushed Delta to improve working conditions for flight attendants. It has also warned that without a union contract, Delta management could axe boarding pay at any time.
A spokesperson for AFA has also pointed out that the contract improvements they believe they can deliver would “far outweigh” the cost of union dues.
A pro-company employee group known as ONE DELTA see the situation a little different, however. The group believes it would cost the equivalent of 56 domestic boardings for new-hire flight attendants to pay the $600 in annual union dues that they say AFA will charge.
“Imagine how difficult boarding is, and then think about having to pay AFA your whole month’s Boarding Pay for dues,” the group wrote in a recent Facebook post.
Should flight attendants choose to unionize, they would not pay any dues until they ratified their first contract. This process can sometimes take years,
In 2019, Delta faced a fierce backlash after an internal anti-union marketing campaign suggested the money non-unionized employees saved on dues could be spent on buying a games console.
AFA has hit back at claims it failed to secure boarding pay for its flight attendants saying it had managed to negotiate the concept with United prior to 9/11 but that the crisis that enveloped the aviation industry after September 2001 meant concessions had to be made.
“Our demand to change this at the bargaining table hasn’t had a chance to move forward as we spent 20 years post-9/11 and through the mergers just fighting to keep what we had before,” the union said last week.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.