Airline Union Targets Southern States

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Hoping to gain more support in Southern states, a major aerospace union has announced plans to target airline employees at Delta and Airbus in two massive organizing campaigns.

The International Association of Machinists (IAM) will be pushing to unionize 20,000 flight attendants at Atlanta-based Delta. On the other end they will be pushing to organize the 1,000 employees expected to be working at the Airbus A320 plant in Mobile, Alabama, when it opens up in 2015, according to The Street.

Sito Pantoja, the general vice president of transportation for the IAM, is optimistic of this push and how much these workers want their representation.

“The South is part of the United States, and the IAM has been having success there,” Pantoja told The Street. “We are putting resources in there. We’re not timid.”

“Workers in the South are the same as in the North,” Pantoja continued, according to The Street. “They need to have respect on the job. They need dignity on the job. They need to have contracts where wages and benefits cannot be taken away just because the CEO wants a bigger paycheck.”

IAM says that they will help workers gain defined benefit pension plans as opposed to just contribution plans.

Similar pushes to organize the airlines in this matter have failed in the past. The Association of Flight Attendants tried in 2002, 2008 and 2010 to organize Delta flight attendants but was unsuccessful each time.

Pantoja explained that part of this push comes in response to a group of Delta flight attendants who contacted the IAM in 2012 asking to be organized, adding, “Now we have over 300 organizations.”

However, Delta Airlines says not only have they gone to great lengths to support their workers, neither the management nor employees want representation from the IAM.

“Delta people have received eight companywide pay increases of 3 percent or more each since 2007 – something no other airline, including IAM-represented workgroups, has matched,” Delta spokeswoman Kate Modolo told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Modolo went on to explain, “Delta pay increases aren’t haphazard; they result from a thoughtful process supporting Delta’s long-term commitment to reviewing compensation annually.”

In comparison, “IAM-represented employees go years without increases due to contract limitations. It’s no wonder the IAM and other unions claim responsibility for Delta’s increases since they can’t do the same on an annual basis for their own members.”

Modolo told TheDCNF, “The IAM pension plan is useless to new hires and long-time employees, alike. Unlike Delta’s 401k, the plan doesn’t recognize past service [at current or previous employers], isn’t portable, doesn’t increase with pay increases, and isn’t a guaranteed retirement tool as proven by the IAM through its past actions to arbitrarily reduce this benefit for its members.”

“This isn’t the first time we’ve heard the IAM claim they are close to collecting enough signed cards to file an election, and it likely won’t be the last,” Modolo added.

Modolo then went on to conclude, “The potential dues of 20,000 flight attendants are worth millions of dollars to a union so there seems to be no limit to what they’ll do or say to gain members. No one is holding the IAM accountable to the truth. Where’s the evidence? Its membership has been in steep decline over the last decade, and the IAM has been rejected by all five work groups they tried to represent following the Delta-Northwest merger.”

TheDCNF was unable to reach the IAM for comment.

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Connor D. Wolf