Delta Air Lines is holding billions of dollars in funding for crucial FAA projects hostage by insisting that Congress pass new, undemocratic rules for airline workers trying to organize a union. Delta wants union elections to count workers who don't take part as voting "No"--an absurd demand that would undermine the entire system of majority-rule voting.
And as the clock ticks to the next deadline, we run the risk of another FAA shutdown at the end of the year.
Delta have been willing to throw around their corporate muscle in order to achieve their anti-worker aims. Its political lowlights include:
- Delta are alone in lobbying hard for unfair workplace elections, give perks to lawmakers. In the third quarter of 2011, Delta spent over $533,000 on lobbying. It was the only major airline to lobby on the issue of "National Mediation Board Rule Change", i.e. the unfair elections provision that cause the FAA shutdown. In a recent Roll Call article, a Delta spokeperson was forced to admit that they give Congress Members to double-book flights through a special call desk, meaning that they could book multiple flights and pay only for the one they use.
- Delta actually made money off the FAA shutdown they helped to drive! That's right - while government coffers were depleted and people put out of work, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Delta "received a $70 million revenue increase from the 13-day shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration in late July and early August" due to uncollected airline ticket tax revenue.
- Delta has a history of rewarding Republicans who help further their anti-union goals : As Campaign Money Watch reported recently, "Delta's been spending money wisely to try to overturn the decision to let workers organize more easily. They spent $1.6 million on lobbying during the first half of 2011, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. (Over the past ten years they spent at least $32 million to influence Washington.) Their PAC has given $826,243 to members of Congress since 2000.
- Open advocacy against fair American elections : Delta issued a press release commending the news that the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform would investigate the National Mediation Board's 2010 decision to conduct union elections for air/rail workers the same as all other types of American elections . Mike Campbell, Delta's executive vice president of H.R. and Labor Relations said, "This investigation is an important victory for Delta people because it will finally allow the facts to speak for themselves." Unfortunately for Delta, the facts aren't on their side regarding their continued involvement in this issue.
- Partisan and ideological, even on issues not concerning Delta: In the same press release Delta issued to employees praising the investigation into NMB, the airline blasted the Obama administration over the Boeing/National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) controversy - despite not being governed by NLRB. In his statement, Mike Campbell said, "Unfortunately, this is not the only recent occasion when a federal labor agency has attempted an unprecedented shift in labor policy at the behest of unions. The Committee's decision to investigate the questionable circumstances behind the NMB's voting rule change follows last week's announcement that they would investigate similar partisan actions involving the National Labor Relations Board and the Boeing Co."
- Bumping paying customers…so Delta employees can lobby: Delta is so committed to its anti-union ideology that it offered its employees the chance to travel to Washington to lobby against fair union elections under a provision that may bump paying customers. Talking Points Memo reported that the group No Way AFA, "a coalition of Delta employees who want to deliberalize union rights," came to Washington the week of the House vote on the FAA Reauthorization bill to lobby against fair election standards…and potentially bumping paying Delta customers in the process.
- Sticking it to returning troops via baggage fees : Delta actually charged returning military servicemen for baggage fees until media and public outcry forced their hand. Anything for a buck, apparently.