The chief of the world's biggest airline is encouraging his employees to call police if they feel threatened by union representatives he says are showing up at their homes unannounced.
Delta Air Lines' two biggest work groups — ground workers and flight attendants — have yet to resolve representation following Delta's 2008 acquisition of Northwest Airlines. Both groups were nonunion at pre-merger Delta, but union at pre-merger Northwest.
Ground workers include gate, reservation and ticket agents and ramp and cargo workers. Along with flight attendants they number roughly 50,000 employees at Delta, a spokeswoman has said.
CEO Richard Anderson told employees in a recorded message Thursday that some workers claim International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers representatives have frightened their spouses or children and, in some cases, blocked their driveways, preventing them from leaving.
"Conduct like this is harassment. It's wrong," Anderson said. "This is not how we treat people at Delta."
IAM spokesman Joseph Tiberi denies those allegations. He said IAM representatives have been respectful to workers, and he accused Delta of impeding efforts by the IAM to meet with employees in their workplace.
"If an employee did not want to speak with us, we moved on," Tiberi said of the home visits.
Anderson told employees that the appropriate way for unions to communicate with employees includes newsletters, Web sites and approaching workers in workplace breakrooms.
Tiberi responded, "What he may be saying has not been what's happening in practice."
Tiberi said union representatives have not received a response from Delta management to their request for a meeting to discuss meeting with employees in the workplace and other related issues.
Delta, based in Atlanta, has already resolved representation for pilots and some smaller work groups. It is operating on a single operating certificate and reservation system, and it has phased out the Northwest code and Web site.
For unions that represented Northwest workers before the merger to continue to represent workers in their work group at the combined airline, an election must be held and the union must be approved. Approval requires a majority vote of the entire work group, with those who don't vote counted as "No" votes. The unions want to change that rule to allow for a majority of those who vote to carry the day.
Shares of Delta, based in Atlanta, rose 10 cents to close at $14.69 on Thursday.
Source: AP Features