Sanders Leads Senate Effort Urging Delta Airlines to Respect Union Organizing Rights

WASHINGTON, May 15—Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) led a letter with eight of his Senate colleagues to Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines, condemning the corporation’s “insulting and demeaning” anti-union campaign targeting 40,000 of its employees. Sanders was joined by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).

Delta Air Lines’ brazen anti-union propaganda was widely criticized after a photo of the company’s poster was made public on social media. The Delta Air Lines’ flyer suggested that union dues would be better spent on video-game systems. A median full-time worker covered by a union contract earns 22 percent more in wages than a peer in a nonunionized workplace.

“Your attempts to deny the right of Delta workers to form a union is corporate greed, plain and simple,” conclude the Senators. “We urge you to end Delta’s anti-union tactics, make it clear to all of your managers that they should do the same, and allow Delta workers to decide the question of unionization free from fear, intimidation or retaliation.”

Read a PDF of the letter here

Read the full text below: 

May 15, 2019
Ed Bastian, CEO
Delta Air Lines, Inc.

Dear Mr. Bastian:

We write to express our serious concerns regarding Delta’s insulting and demeaning anti-union communications directed at the airline’s non-union workforce. Delta must not interfere in its workers constitutional right to form a union and join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM).

It has become clear that Delta’s management has a highly coordinated and strategic plan to suppress the efforts of over 40,000 workers from voting to join the IAM. The time has come for Delta to respect all of its workers’ fundamental right to freedom of association and stop bombarding employees with anti-union propaganda. 

The lengths that your management team has gone to prevent your employees from having a voice in their future are unacceptable.  According to accounts that have reached our offices, Delta has been pushing a constant barrage of literature that includes misrepresentations, mischaracterizations and falsehoods to employees in their break rooms and employee lounges, and the company intranet “DeltaNet” is being used to further your anti-union bias.  These actions violate the dignity and respect of all Delta workers and need to stop.

Mr. Bastian, you earned almost $40 million in the last two years while paying workers who make Delta Air Lines arguably the most financially successful airline on the planet as little as $9 per hour. Thousands of your employees live paycheck to paycheck and seek IAM representation to better their lives. Instead of allowing Delta workers to decide whether unionizing is right for them free from your influence, you have directed your management to actively interfere with the efforts of your workers to decide this question for themselves.

You apparently also foresee that IAM representation would increase compensation and benefits for Delta employees. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be spending millions of dollars to dissuade your employees from unionizing.

Let’s be clear.  Your attempts to deny the right of Delta workers to form a union is corporate greed, plain and simple.  If Delta workers gain union representation they will finally have the right to collectively bargain with Delta for a living wage, decent benefits and safe working conditions.

We urge you to end Delta’s anti-union tactics, make it clear to all of your managers that they should do the same, and allow Delta workers to decide the question of unionization free from fear, intimidation or retaliation. 

Sincerely,

Senators Bernard Sanders, Sherrod Brown, Robert P. Casey, Jr., Ron Wyden, Tammy Baldwin, Richard Blumenthal, Edward J. Markey, Elizabeth Warren, Jeff Merkley