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Delta Flight Attendant Election Receives Intense Scrutiny In Congressional Merger Hearing

Date: May 14, 2008

Members of Congress Express Concern about Anti-Union Tactics in Historic Election and Probe How Merger with Northwest Airlines Will Affect Employees

Washington, DC – In a Congressional hearing yesterday regarding the impact of the proposed merger between Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines, members of the U.S. House of Representative's Subcommittee on Aviation grilled Delta CEO Richard Anderson on his failure to declare neutrality in Delta flight attendants' union representation election. Delta flight attendants are in the midst of a vote seeking to become members of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA). The election and the overall effects this merger would have on employees at both carriers were a major focus of the seven-hour hearing, dominating much of the question-and-answers periods.

"The Committee is right to focus attention on Delta executives' shameful intimidation and interference in the flight attendants' election," said Patricia Friend, AFA-CWA International President after the hearing. "Richard Anderson admitted that they have a clear position in this election which is the opposite of his previous claims that Delta management respects the democratic process and their employees' decisions. Trying to keep flight attendants from voting is anti-democratic, and it is a disgrace. Delta flight attendants deserve the right to have a voice in their future and a seat at the table and we applaud the Committee for taking the time to issue their concerns. It is time for these executives to heed the calls for neutrality that have come from many of our supporters in the Congress."

Representative Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) raised concerns regarding Delta's voter suppression campaign as he held up his viewed copy of management's anti-union video that has been widely distributed to all Delta flight attendants. Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) also voiced concerns regarding Delta's "very aggressive and in your face" campaign to keep flight attendants from voting. Chairman Jerry Costello (D-IL) questioned Ms. Friend, seeking details on the specific tactics Delta executives have employed to interfere with the election. Lawmakers expressed skepticism about airline executives' reassurances that there would be no layoffs of frontline employees and pressed for supporting evidence and written commitments.

"In today's aviation industry, there are virtually no protections for airline workers in a merger. The only protections employees have are those that have been negotiated into their union contracts. But for non-union employees, they are left with little guarantees. Using this merger as an opportunity to destroy unions provides these airlines, and all who would follow, with an opportunity to drive down wages, work rules and benefits for all airline employees. This election among the Delta flight attendants is not just an opportunity for them to gain a voice on the job and a seat at the table – it  is  the 'first line of defense' to protect the over 60 years of collective bargaining rights for the Northwest flight attendants. Collective bargaining rights are the only protections employees have and they must be maintained at all costs," testified Friend.

For over 60 years, the Association of Flight Attendants has been serving as the voice for flight attendants in the workplace, in the aviation industry, in the media and on Capitol Hill.  More than 55,000 flight attendants at 20 airlines come together to form AFA-CWA, the world's largest flight attendant union. AFA is part of the 700,000-member strong Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFL-CIO. Visit us at www.afanet.org.

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