Mixed Reactions as Delta Air Lines Announces Nationwide Pay Hikes

Workers for Delta Air Lines, one of America’s major airlines, could be in for a windfall this year as the company has announced a swathe of pay increases across the country. While some are excited by this news, others are less happy.

Delta’s Generous Wage Boost

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Delta is a company with a long history. It employs around 100,000 people and is one of the busiest airlines in many U.S. airports. 

Historic Pay Increase for Delta Workers

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Well, Delta employees will be glad to know that starting June 1st, all workers on minimum wage will be paid an extra $2.45 an hour, meaning that the starting wage for Delta employees is now $19 an hour.

Flight to Higher Wages

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On top of this, existing employees in the company are on track to receive a 5% pay rise as well. These pay rises will impact around 80,000 workers, according to Delta.

Pay Raise Details

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Pilots won’t be seeing a pay increase, as their union just negotiated a new contract last year, resulting in big pay rises. 

Unions Eye Delta’s Nonunion Workers

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The pay rise is targeted at nonunion workers – primarily flight attendants, baggage handlers, mechanics, and some office workers, as labor unions attempt to get them organized.

Battle for Unionization at Delta

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Unions see this pay rise as an effort by Delta to stop its workers from unionizing. Flight attendants voted against unionizing in 2010, but The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), a union that represents almost 50,000 flight attendants, is trying to change that. 

AFA’s Push for Flight Attendants’ Rights

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The AFA is trying to trigger an election this year, giving the crew another opportunity to vote to unionize. They’ve been working to unionize Delta’s cabin crew since late 2019, as only 20% of the airline’s workers are represented by unions.

Union’s Critique

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President Sara Nelson explained, “Delta has become the leader in generating profits, and that means Delta flight attendants should be leading on pay and benefits, and they are not.”

Paying People “Pocket Change”

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In a statement, the AFA wrote, “Flight Attendants make Delta record profits, get pocket change in return.” 

“Crumbs” for Workers

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The union said, “Management knows we’re waking up to what we can achieve when we organize our union. They’re doing everything in their power to satisfy us with crumbs. But we know our worth.”

Comparing Delta’s Pay with Competitors

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They argued that while the new pay rate for Delta flight attendants could reach $79.80 per hour, it still falls below what Southwest Airlines offers – provided their union approves a wage agreement later this month.

Union Demands

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“Record profits should mean record contracts,” the union stated.

Airlines’ Pay Strategy Amid Labor Shortages

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Airlines have been increasing pay lately to keep employees and bring in new ones. During the pandemic, many people retired or left their jobs, so airlines had trouble finding enough workers when travel picked up again.

Delta’s Decade-Long Pay Trends

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According to Delta, they have given workers 12 pay raises over the past 15 years – an 85% raise on average. Recently, they gave nonunion employees a 5% pay increase in April 2023 and a 4% increase in May 2022.

Investments in Frontline Workers

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The company also states that they have made investments of up to 20-25% in its frontline workers – which they claim they wouldn’t be able to do if these groups were unionized.

CEO’s Philosophy on Employee Investment

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Delta’s CEO, Ed Bastian, wrote in a memo that this was all part of the company’s work philosophy. “Delta’s leading position comes thanks to a simple concept that dates back nearly a century – invest in our people first, and they will deliver great service and experiences for our customers. That’s exactly what you do, and it always sets us apart.”

Delta’s Record Profits 

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Delta has been reporting record profits in the last few years. Last year they made $4.6 billion – more than the combined profits of United, American, Southwest and Alaska airlines.

Outstanding First Quarter Performance

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More recently Delta have reported their highest revenue in any first quarter (January, February, and March) in the company’s history – as well as a $37 million profit.

Future Prospects for Delta’s Labor Relations

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Whether the AFA will be successful in its attempts to unionize Delta’s workers remains to be seen, although, with past failures in 2010, 2008, and 2002, the odds may be against them.

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The post Mixed Reactions as Delta Air Lines Announces Nationwide Pay Hikes first appeared on Thrift My Life. 

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