The Association of Flight Attendants – Communications Workers of America (AFA-CWA) is trying to organize flight attendants at Delta. They are promising more money, less work and a pony. It costs them nothing to make promises, which are almost certainly not true. In reality, Delta’s cabin crew will pay for union representation, they won’t make as much money as they will under Delta’s unique model in the industry, and their work lives will be worse.
Every Delta flight attendant should ask, are cabin crew represented by AFA-CWA actually happier and better off at the myriad of airlines where the union represents them now – like United Airlines, Spirit, Frontier, and Mesa?
There are 6 basic reasons that flight attendants at Delta, following their self-interest, should reject unionization efforts by AFA-CWA:
AFA-CWA organizing is all about adding members, not making flight attendants better off. That’s why union head Sara Nelson favored Frontier taking over Spirit Airlines, rather than JetBlue – the former would have meant AFA-CWA representation, while JetBlue has a different union. A JetBlue deal means more money for many flight attendants but that wasn’t AFA-CWA’s goal!
AFA-CWA didn’t even manage to protect jobs. Its members were furloughed during the pandemic at United. Delta didn’t do furloughs.
Crew at Delta aren’t 19th century factory workers. Stories about the role of unions in the past don’t speak to whether there is something to add today. Sticking with an outmoded factory model has made competitors like United and American places where cabin crew are frequently unhappy to work.
Southwest is an outlier. They are union and people are still happy working there. They have a unique history and backstory as underdog they have manages to partially hold together. Replicating that is a long shot – but if it could happen at Delta then best case is things aren’t worse (but flight attendants are out of pocket to pay for union leadership and office overhead) – there is simply no upside for the majority of crew.