On Saturday, April 15, Twin Cities DSA members were invited to attend a major labor rally to boost the coordinated organizing efforts at Delta Air Lines. Delta flight attendants are organizing with the Association of Flight Attendants – CWA (AFA-CWA). Delta fleet service / ramp crew are organizing with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM). Delta mechanics are organizing with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT or just “Teamsters”.)
Altogether this nationwide organizing drive represents over 45,000 workers employed by one of the leading anti-union companies. Delta pilots are unionized, but the remaining 80% of its workforce is not. Delta is the only U.S.-based mainline carrier where flight attendants, fleet service workers and mechanics are not represented by a union. The airline is highly profitable. Although wages are competitive with unionized airlines, the bulk of the profit goes to shareholders and top executive pay, with Delta’s CEO getting 26% more than the second-highest-paid airline CEO.
Nearly 200 people, representing Delta workers, former Delta workers, local members of other unions, and groups in solidarity such as DSA, attended the rally at the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation headquarters, including a dozen or more TCDSA members. Songs were performed at the opening and closing by Emmett Doyle, a local movement musician and union member familiar to many of us. Pizza and drinks were provided.
The main speakers included Dan McCurdy, a ramp worker at MSP Airport who worked half his career for Northwest under a union contract and the second half for Delta, and Richie Johnson, Machinists Air Transport Territory General Vice President. The Teamsters were represented with a speech from Local 120 President Tom Erickson, who serves on International President Sean O’Brien’s Executive Board. The last speech was a rousing oration from labor rockstar Sara Nelson, AFA-CWA International President. After dramatically laying out the stakes, the hope, and the need for solidarity, she led the crowd in chanting “I’ve got your back!” (I am particularly glad I finally got to hear Sara live in action.)
If you weren’t able to attend the rally, you can see most of it in this Facebook Live video on the IAM local’s Facebook page.