United Flight Attendant Union attacks Delta over Boarding Pay

Several days ago, Delta announced that they would start paying flight attendants during boarding, which (surprisingly) is otherwise not a standard practice in the US aviation industry. United’s flight attendants’ association has now responded to this development with some rather strange allegations.

Delta flight attendant’s boarding salary

Historically, flight attendants in the United States have not been paid during boarding, but they only begin to get paid when the flight door closes. Delta is the first major US airline to change this:

  • Delta announced that they would start paying flight attendants for the planned 40-50 minute boarding time, at half the standard hourly rates
  • Delta is the only large American airline where the flight attendants are not unionized, although over the years there has been several union work
  • Obviously Delta as the leader here was an attempt by the management to keep the flight attendants happy and encourage the flight attendants not to go together

Before we get into what United̵[ads1]7;s flight attendants’ association has posted, let me note that:

  • I’m union friendly, in the sense that I think flight attendants should be allowed to join unions if they want to, without being intimidated
  • I do not necessarily think that union is good and non-organization is bad, or vice versa; objectively, Delta flight attendants are in a better position than the flight attendants of most other major US airlines, and they also provide significantly better service

With that in mind, let’s get into what United’s flight attendants’ association claims.

United Flight Attendant Union attacks Delta over Boarding Pay
Delta flight attendants will now be paid during boarding

United Air Hostesses Association answers Delta

It is obvious that the flight attendant associations are under pressure, because they have not been able to negotiate boarding salaries, while the Delta flight attendants are now being proactively offered this. So the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), which represents United Airlines employees, has posted a note to members about Delta’s development.

Probably some members wonder why they pay dues when the union is not even able to provide them with what the Delta management proactively offers the flight attendants.

The memorandum acknowledges that boarding pay is a good thing, and that all flight attendants should receive boarding pay.

The union starts by claiming that boarding salaries have been a priority for at least 20 years, but since 9/11 the union has been “engrossed in match management at the negotiating table to keep what we have previously achieved during negotiations”.

To claim “well, we have not really been able to do anything in 20 years” does not seem like a strong argument for union. This is especially true since the Delta flight attendants are without a doubt in a better position than the United flight attendants.

The union then tries to paint “the rest of the story”, which includes the following:

  • “Enclosed by this announcement is the fact that Delta management has increased the boarding time for passengers from 35 to 40 minutes, and this announcement is their attempt to tamper with the angry reaction it deserves from the flight attendants.”
  • “This decision is undoubtedly related to AFA’s ongoing efforts to organize Delta Flight Attendants”
  • “As Delta continues to add additional services, they have failed to restore staff to pre-pandemic levels on the aircraft”
  • “This initiative is apparently designed to divert attention from the fact that Delta will require all flight attendants to wear a uniform that has made them sick, an initiative AFA is fighting against while our collective work to establish standards continues.”
  • “In the absence of a contract, there is no obligation to lock this pay factor for Delta Flight Attendants”
  • “It is a strong reminder that the Delta management, in the same way as it was implemented, has the opportunity to unilaterally terminate the boarding salary, at its own discretion.”

This argument is simply everywhere. Where do we start at all?

  • I’m pretty sure most Delta flight attendants do not mind the boarding time being increased by five minutes if that means they get paid for the entire scheduled boarding time.
  • AFA is right that this is related to attempts to unite the Delta flight attendants, although that is about the only accurate and relevant point here
  • In terms of Delta’s manning level, virtually all US airlines staff domestic flights to the minimum requirements required by law, so this is a very nuanced point
  • I’m not sure what uniforms have to do with boarding salaries, but AFA is really grabbing straw here
  • True, there is no obligation that the Delta management will not go back, but in the same way, if the Delta management does, it would not eliminate the whole point of this, which is to keep the flight attendants happy and prevent them from being unionized. ?

It all gives off “but her emails” vibes.

United says Delta’s boarding salary is good, but …

The bottom line

Flight attendants must be paid during boarding, easily and simply. Delta became the first major US airline to start doing this, and that’s good news. Although the Delta flight attendants are not unionized, the major airline unions should thank Delta here, since Delta’s relocation gives them much more influence.

It is obvious that the unions have difficulty in justifying their value to the members in light of this development. As a result, United’s flight attendant association is attacking Delta to increase boarding time by five minutes, and for all sorts of unrelated things, such as uniforms and staffing levels.

What do you think about the response from United’s flight attendants’ association to Delta’s boarding salary?

(Tip of the hat to see from the wing)

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