Solidarity Keeps Us Flying

What a year it’s been. It’s hard to believe that just one year ago we were receiving profit sharing bonus checks after Delta broke records. Every airline was hiring and there was unprecedented opportunity across our industry.

But by the middle of March, we found ourselves in the midst of an unprecedented disaster. Passenger volume dropped by 97% nearly overnight.

Nothing like this has happened in the history of commercial aviation. Delta management has has responded to the crisis, but the real heroes who have kept this airline afloat are the Flight Attendants, pilots, RAMP and gate agents and every person who’s sacrificed and put themselves on the line.

Thousands of our flying partners took voluntary leaves or retired early to give the airline a chance to pull out of a tailspin. Thousands more kept working despite the danger and the lack of clear regulations or guidelines—critical work that kept essential travel and cargo moving.  

We also saw the power of solidarity and a strong labor movement. AFA envisioned the Payroll Support Program (PSP). We brought together aviation unions and the industry, and, through that work, successfully kept paychecks and benefits going—then won an extension in December. We are on track to gain another PSP extension, which will ensure job security and pay rates for Delta Flight Attendants through September 30, 2021. Even without the threat of furloughs at our airline, PSP protects Delta workers.

This year also showed just how important it is that we win a union and a legally binding contract. We had no clear way to advocate for the PPE and safety measures we needed, or a real mechanism to hold the airline accountable for our safety.​ Without a binding process, no one had any information, security, or stability when furloughs loomed.

As Americans receive the vaccine, travel is beginning to return. But it will likely take years to return to where we were a year ago today. In the wake of the last great disruption in our industry—the years of hardship that followed 9/11—airlines used mergers and consolidation to balance their books on the backs of workers.

As we look forward to 2021, we must commit ourselves to winning our Flight Attendant union and a legally-binding contract. As we begin to contain the virus, Wall Street investors will demand that management find ways to return to profitability, and they will demand that management force workers to accept concessions and cuts. In the end, it won’t be up to our CEO or Board. Wall Street will do what it has always done—reward itself at workers’ expense. Without a contract to protect our interests, we will have no voice in the process or legal standing to protect ourselves.

As we celebrate employee appreciation day, we are deeply grateful for each and every one of you, and we are committed to doing everything we can to build power together. Let’s make 2021 the year that Delta Flight Attendants stand together in solidarity to demand the respect we’ve earned and a contract that provides the security and stability we deserve.

P.S. Join us February 23 at 5pm ET for this month’s virtual fireside chat on Air Safety, Health & Security. Flying during normal times is already stressful, but during this COVID-19 pandemic it has escalated to a whole new level. Join us to share stories, address rumors, answer questions and have your voices heard. RSVP here.

AFA Links on the Fly