Feds Investigate Delta Union Elections

The National Mediation Board is reportedly planning on-site investigations into whether the airline interfered with a series of elections through which its employees rejected union representation.

Delta Air Lines, Inc., is reportedly under an investigation regarding union elections held last year as it integrated workers from Northwest Airlines, Inc., following the 2008 merger of the two companies.

The National Mediation Board told Atlanta-based Delta that it will conduct an on-site investigation into whether elections for several groups of workers were tainted, according to a report by the Associated Press (AP).

When Delta bought Eagan-based Northwest in 2008, pilots were the only large unionized group at Delta, the AP said. The two airlines' pilot unions merged, but elections were heldthroughout other worker groups to determine whether the unions that represented Northwest employees would represent Delta workers who were formerly nonunion.

Between November and December 2010, three groups-covering about 29,000 workers-voted down union coverage from the International Association of Machinists (IMA). In addition to those three elections, the National Mediation Board is also reviewing a vote held last year through which the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA narrowly lost its request to represent Delta's flight attendants.

The flight attendants and the IMA allege that Delta interfered with the votes and tainted the elections, while Delta has claimed that union tactics were used to intimidate its employees, the AP reported.

Despite the fact that Delta employees voted to reject union representation, the airline still acknowledges their existence. In February, Delta announced that it would reward its employees with $313 million in profit-sharing payouts. Many workers received a bonus of 6.5 percent of their 2010 earnings, while those who remained under union contracts from before the merger got 3.2 percent of their earnings. Six former Northwest flight attendants called foul, suing the airline over pay discrimination.

According to the AP, Delta has indicated that it will settle wage discrepancies once the disputes surrounding union representation are resolved.