Delta Unionization?Aired January 7, 2000 - 1:46 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: They fly the skies ununited with fellow airline workers. Delta Airlines is the only U.S. airline not unionized.
But as CNN's Dan Ronan reports, that soon may change.
DAN RONAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The move to organize 50,000 Delta Airlines' employees is currently the biggest union drive in the U.S.; 10,000 ramp and cargo workers will begin voting on the issue January 27. The results will be announced in early March.
JEFF OSBORNE, ORGANIZER, TRANSPORT WORKERS UNION: The company basically does what they want with the employees at will, and employees are just tired of it. They want to have a contract, they want a set of work rules, and a contract that defines their wages and their benefits.
RONAN: Flight attendants and gate agents are expected to vote later this year.
(on camera): Veteran employees leading the organizing effort say this would have been unthinkable just five years ago. Then, Delta began a series of deep service cuts, and there were some layoffs. The airline recovered nicely, but the employees say their relationship with Delta was changed forever.
(voice-over): With record profits last year, expansion and nearly full planes, a Wall Street airline industry told CNN Financial News, Delta is now fertile ground for unionization. Others agree.
DONALD RATAJCZAK, ECONOMIST, GEORGIA STATE UNIV.: That used to be the style, that you would be part of the team and management would take care of you, but once several years ago, when the layoffs started, that broke that arrangement.
RONAN: Not surprisingly, the airline opposes the effort, preferring to keep employees in the so-called "Delta family."
CEO Leo Mullin released a statement: "Because the decisions to be made in the near future could have far-reaching effects on our company's success, I want to state again our strong belief that further unionization would not be in the best interest of Delta or Delta people."
Late last year, Delta agreed to a generous, new contract with pilots who fly the biggest jets. The Transport Workers Union says that agreement is proof the airline can work with labor, and it has the money to improve salaries and benefits for other employees.
Dan Ronan, CNN Financial News, Atlanta.
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