Your most frequently asked questions, answered here.
- What‘s an A-Card?
- What happens if I sign an A-Card?
- What happens next?
- How would an election work?
- What happens if I don’t sign an A-Card?
- What if a union is elected and then we decide we don’t want a union anymore?
- How long will elections take?
- How many years would a union negotiation take?
- What if a contract is not ratified?
- What about union dues?
- My crew members keep asking me to sign an A-Card. Can they advocate on the airplane?
- Where can union organizers approach us and where are the no-go zones?
What‘s an A-Card?
The Authorization card, or “A-card” is a legal document that permits a union to call for an election. The union must get 50% or more of the work group to sign a card in order to file for an election.
What happens if I sign an A-Card?
Signing an A-Card indicates support for a union election. This is not simply a request for information; it is a request for a union election. A-Cards are valid for one year from the date of signing.
What happens next?
If a union gathers A-Cards from 50% of the employee group, they can file an application to hold an election. Should this occur, the National Mediation Board (NMB) will request a list of employees in the workgroup and signature samples from Delta. The NMB will review each A-card against the information provided by Delta to ensure a sufficient number of cards were submitted.
How would an election work?
The NMB conducts elections by secret ballot which can be cast by telephone or website. The votes would be tallied electronically by NMB, which would then report the results to the union and to Delta.
What happens if I don’t sign an A-Card?
Nothing. Everyone has the legal right to decide whether they want to be represented by a third-party or not. If that is the case, the best thing to do is not sign an A-card.
What if a union is elected and then we decide we don’t want a union anymore?
It is very difficult for workers to return to “non-union” status once a union has been certified as their bargaining representative, and as far as we know, has never been done in a large workgroup dispersed throughout the country. Once the union gains a foothold within Delta, they are most likely here to stay.
How long will elections take?
There is no fixed timeline for an election. The NMB is responsible for scheduling the election and ensuring it is free and fair. To provide perspective, from the time the AFA filed after the Northwest merger on July 1, 2010 it took 3 months to begin the voting process and the voting process then took 5 weeks. Thereafter, it took another year for the NMB to investigate and dismiss the AFA’s “interference” charges, at which time Delta was finally permitted to align pay and work rules for Delta and Northwest flight attendants.
How many years would a union negotiation take?
Nobody knows. Negotiating an initial contract for 25,000 flight attendants or more than 18,000 below wing/cargo agents is not an easy task- and as far as we know, no union has done it. Contract negotiations in the airline industry can take years. For comparison, it took the AFA 9 years to agree on a second contract for flight attendants at Spirit.
What if a contract is not ratified?
Until an agreement can be reached by both parties and voted on by the union members, there are usually no improvements to pay or work rules. There is no limit on how long this process lasts and things can remain in “limbo” for many years. At Spirit, negotiations for a second flight attendant contract took 9 years, during which time Spirit flight attendants did not receive any pay increases.
What about union dues?
Here’s some additional detail about how union dues actually work: They’re Mandatory: Once the union negotiates a “union security clause” (which is standard in the airline industry), paying dues is mandatory. If you decide you don’t want to pay dues, a union can require that you be terminated – and they have done so before. State “right to work” laws do not apply in the airline industry, so employees cannot opt out of paying dues. They do increase: Dues frequently increase, even for members whose pay may not rise.
My crew members keep asking me to sign an A-Card. Can they advocate on the airplane?
No. Our advocacy policies generally permit advocacy in non-work areas during non-work time. The airplane is a work area and advocacy is not permitted. More detail on our advocacy policy is available on Deltanet or through your leader.
Where can union organizers approach us and where are the no-go zones?
Our advocacy policies generally permit advocacy in non-work areas during non-work time. There are guidelines for advocacy in crew lounges and break rooms that protect the use of such areas for both advocates and Delta people who wish to be left alone.