Delta Air Lines workers demand a stop to union busting

A Delta Air Lines Airbus A330 after takeoff.
Pieter van Marion from Netherlands, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In a show of solidarity and determination, Delta Air Lines workers and their allies in the labor movement recently gathered at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Their purpose was to call for an end to the airline’s aggressive anti-union campaign.

This rally took place amidst an ongoing organizing drive where up to 45,000 employees of the carrier are actively seeking to join unions.

An assertion of rights

The different groups within Delta’s workforce are coming together to assert their rights. Mechanics and related workers are organizing to join the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Ramp, cargo, and tower workers are seeking representation with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM).

Additionally, Delta flight attendants are working towards forming a union with the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA). Despite their efforts, a recent proposal that would have required the company to remain neutral during the union organizing process was rejected by Delta shareholders.

The Teamsters General President, Sean M. O’Brien, expressed disappointment over the resistance to unionization, stating, “Apparently, some of them don’t want this airline to go union. That’s too bad because it’s going union anyways.”

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, emphasized the determination of the Delta workers, saying, “Minneapolis is a union town! Delta Flight Attendants, fleet service, and mechanics are organizing to join their unions.”


“The workers at Delta won’t let the corporate leaders who come and go with their millions define who the airline really is. The workers are organizing to make sure their airline operates with open arms to the world and respect for everyone in it.”

The right to join a union

IAM Air Transport Territory General Vice President Richie Johnsen also voiced support for unionization, highlighting the workers’ desire for a voice in the workplace.

“Delta workers in Minneapolis and across the country have made it clear: they want to join a union and have a voice in the workplace,” he stated.

“The choice to unionize is with Delta’s hard-working employees as they deserve the protections that come with a strong union contract. The IAM, Teamsters, and AFA-CWA urge Delta to stop their union-busting tactics and put people over profits.”

One Delta ramp worker, Dan McCurdy, shared his perspective on the situation, stating, “Delta keeps posting significant profits quarter after quarter while turning to old-school union-busting. Delta workers deserve a seat at the table to enjoy the fruits of their labor.”

The right to seek union representation is protected by federal law, and any attempts to interfere with this right were strongly condemned.

Joe Ferreira, Teamsters Airline Division Director, expressed his frustration for those who impede the workers’ pursuit of unionization, saying:

“Anyone at Delta Air Lines who is trying to interfere with the federally protected right to seek union representation – a right that people fought for and died for – should be ashamed of themselves.”

Delta announced record profits

Ironically, just a day before the rally, it was reported that Delta Air Lines achieved record-breaking profitability in the second quarter of FY2023. The company generated over $1 billion in revenue after accounting for operating costs.

The workers and their supporters argue that these profits should be shared with the technicians, flight attendants, pilots, ramp agents, and other employees who contribute to the carrier’s success, instead of being directed towards Wall Street.


Delta Air Lines management has taken a strong stance against union activities. Employees have faced threats of termination, and the company continues to maintain an anti-union website and distribute literature that intimidates workers seeking to organize.

In the past, Delta spent approximately $38 million to oppose a flight attendant union campaign in 2010. These anti-union actions have not only strained employee relations but also caused damage to the brand.

Notably, the media extensively covered a 2019 anti-union flier distributed by Delta, which controversially suggested that employees should spend their money on video games instead of union dues.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 5 Min Read
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