Delta has been the #1 worst U.S. airline every year in a row since the founding of this blog-- and that's just based on their service. Turns out, though, there's more to Delta's unsuitability as a reliable travel partner than how badly the management runs their operations. As yesterday's Wall Street Journal pointed out, the airline is a bastion of right-wing anti-worker extremism. No wonder their employees always seem so down in the dumps and resentful! The National Mediation Board is now investigating charges by flight attendants that Delta, the only non-Union U.S. airline, illegally interfered in unionization elections by pressuring employees to vote against the unions. As Joe Sudbay observed at AmericaBlog yesterday, "Delta is like the Scott Walker of airlines. It wants to be known as anti-worker."
We can probably expect even more skullduggery from Delta in the coming weeks as they double down in their anti-union jihad. They've been a lead driver in pushing Republican extremists in the House to rescind fair election rules for air/rail workers for elections conducted under the National Mediation Board. For progressives who care about keeping elections fair, giving workers the choice whether or not they want to join a union, and supporting companies who operate under basic standards of decency, there are a number of reasons for progressives to be outraged about Delta Airlines:
• Open advocacy against fair American elections: Delta issued a press release commending the news that Darrell Issa's deranged Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will investigate the NMB’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-- there’s no reason to conduct NMB elections differently from every other form of election, union or non-union, in the nation. If congressional and Senate elections were conducted under such rules, in which non-participating eligible voters were counted as having voted, then zero Members of Congress would have won their last election.
• 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. According to the article, “A Delta spokesperson said No Way AFA operates separately from the company itself, but that the company "allow[s] employees to travel positive space to D.C. when supporting legislative efforts that the company supports.” According to TPM, this means that “the "positive space" fly-in could squeeze out seating space for regular travelers.”
• Free upgrades and lining the pockets of policymaker friends: An investigative journalism piece in Georgia recently found that leading Republican lawmakers in Georgia’s state legislature received free upgrades from Delta to platinum status, valued at approximately $10,000 to $15,000 per year. Valued as campaign contributions, the piece noted that Delta low-balled the reported value of the platinum upgrades in state ethics records. Unsurprisingly, Delta has a long history of being generous to lawmakers like Rep. John Mica, who have voted the right way in Delta’s eyes by seeking to return NMB union elections to the old, undemocratic rules.
I've long been going out of my way to look for alternatives to flying on Delta just because of the lousy service and their refusal to let people use frequent flier miles, but now I can see there are even more reasons to avoid the worst airline in the skies.