Rule change paves the way for Delta union |

Rule change paves the way for Delta union

Flight attendants for the nation’s largest airline several of whom live in Park City may be a step closer to unionizing after a rule was changed Monday on how votes are counted.

The National Mediation Board (NMB), a three-person government panel charged with coordinating labor and management relations for the railroad and airline industries, decided Monday morning to redefine a "no" vote.

Prior to the change, a company was allowed to count all non-participants as in opposition. With the change, a decision among employees whether or not to unionize will be determined only by cast ballots in an election.

The Association of Flight Attendants, a part of the Communications Workers of America, hailed the change as a victory for the 7,000 Northwest Air Lines attendants who are members of the union, but who also recently changed into Delta uniforms. Delta attendants are not unionized.

The merger of Northwest and Delta was announced in 2008 and was completed this year. Because the two companies had different policies regarding attendant unions, it was determined a vote would be held to decide the issue.

Last July, representatives from the AFA-CWA said it would likely wait for the anticipated rule change to hold elections. A Monday press release said the process would now occur within a matter of months.

Local Delta employees said they support the decision.

Attendant Liz Elias said she was glad to hear the news.

"That’s a fair way of voting," she said. "I hope a vote comes soon, I think that would be good it’s more democratic; it’s how we vote for president of the United States."

Pilot Bob Stobaugh also made a comparison to national elections.

"If you don’t vote, so therefore Barack Obama automatically gets your vote, is that fair?" he said. "I think that’s totally absurd."

Usually a fan of FOX News, Stobaugh said the commentators criticizing this decision have it wrong. The old system favored employers, who already had a captive audience to make their anti-unionizing message clear, he said.

"It’s just leveling the playing field," he added.

Stobaugh said his opinion is unionized workers are treated better by companies.

Delta Air Lines spokesperson Gina Laughlin said via email the company is disappointed, but not surprised.

"Given the level of opposition to this change and the process that was used, we expect there will be legal challenges. Delta will join in support of a lawsuit when it is filed," she said.

She also the company supports the Air Transport Association of America’s position on the issue.

That entity issued the following statement Monday morning:

"We continue to believe the National Mediation Board does not have legal authority to implement this rule, one that undoubtedly will lead to more labor discord. It is quite clear to us that the NMB was determined to proceed despite the proposed rule’s substantive and procedural flaws, leaving us no choice but to seek judicial review."

The AFA-CWA press release said the rule must remain in effect for 30 days before it is valid. After that amount of time, it will file a petition "seeking the NMB’s determination that Northwest and Delta are a single transportation system for purposes of flight attendant representation. Once that finding is made, the NMB will schedule an election."

View Delta Flight attendants may soon vote on unionizing in a larger map

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