• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Unions That Won’t Take 'No' for an Answer

    Part of living in a democracy involves accepting election results. Americans know to move on when their side loses. Neither Republicans nor Democrats would suggest redoing the vote until their side won.

    Someone should tell that to the union movement. The Obama Administration recently made it easier to organize Delta airlines. Delta’s employees nonetheless voted the union down. Instead of accepting defeat, the union movement is now asking for a re-vote. They will not take “no” for an answer.

    The saga began when non-union Delta acquired unionized Northwest airlines in 2008. The International Association of Machinists, the Association of Flight Attendants, and other unions launched a campaign to organize the newly merged workforce.

    During this campaign they sent a private letter to the National Mediation Board (the agency that oversees union elections in airlines) asking it to overhaul the election procedures to make it easier for them to win.

    Under the Railway Labor Act (which also covers airlines), unions had to win the support of a majority of employees. Any worker who does not vote effectively counts as a “no”—a union must have the support of a majority of all workers and not just those who show up to vote.

    There was a good reason the law set a higher bar for airline unions to clear. The Railway Labor Act effectively bars workers from getting rid of a union. Once they unionize, they cannot get out. So unions had to demonstrate active support from a majority of all workers—a minority of workers could not vote the majority permanently into a union.

    But union leaders want workers to unionize, period. They do not object to workers being forced into a union they cannot get out of. They simply want more members paying more union dues.

    So the unions asked the Obama Administration to overturn 75 years of precedent and redefine a union win as the support of a majority of voters. The Administration swiftly complied. The unions withdrew their earlier requests for elections and re-filed them under the new rules.

    Despite the election rules being rigged in their favor, the unions still lost. Starting with 52 percent of flight attendants in early November and ending with 70 percent of gate and ticket counter agents in December, every group of Delta employees voted to stay nonunion. Workers heard the union pitch and voted no.

    They had good reason to. Nonunion Delta employees felt that their company treated them well. They also earned 10 to 15 percent more than their unionized colleagues at Northwest did. Why pay union dues to get little in return?

    However, the union movement very much wants to collect those dues. So instead of accepting defeat, they have asked the Obama Administration to order a re-vote.

    The unions contend that the company so greatly interfered in the election that it does not truly reflect employees’ desires. Delta’s alleged sins? It discussed the downsides of organizing with its employees and allowed them to vote online from company computers.

    The charges are laughable, but the unions are very serious about getting a mulligan. The Obama Administration has the power to use such flimsy charges as the grounds for holding a new vote. They can keep holding re-votes until they get the result they like. If the Administration’s past behavior provides any guidance, then the unions will get what they want.

    That is great for the union movement but not for Delta’s employees. As long as the unions’ appeals drag on, Delta cannot integrate its workforces. Ironically, this means the former Northwest employees will stay on their lower union-negotiated pay scales.

    Unions claim to represent American workers. They should learn to take “no” for an answer.

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    27 Responses to Unions That Won’t Take 'No' for an Answer

    1. John Pauni says:

      Sad but true. I am a Delta employee stationed in Salt Lake City Utah. It was funny when the Union reps showed up the day before the results were to be announced with pizza to celebrate their so called win only to find out they lost. They haven't showed up since then and its been nice to not see the paper work littering our break rooms with shallow promises of better pay and benefits. It's sad that this president will do everything in his power to help them achieve their goal. I believe in a re vote that all work classes here at Delta will vote them down but by a bigger margin than before. Thank you for informing the public of the truth.

    2. surfcitysocal says:

      I knew there was a reason why we like Delta and fly with them every chance we get.

    3. Pingback: Tweets that mention Unions That Won’t Take ‘No’ for an Answer | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News. -- Topsy.com

    4. Bobbie says:

      What good are the people representing "union" if they can't accept results the way it is? Doesn't the union crying to government make the union the defeat of their own purpose? Good companies don't need government unions or corruption intruding in their business. Adults accept 'no' for an answer.

    5. Mark, tTexas says:

      For the unions it's all about "show me the money" aka "dues". If Obama changed the rules to make it easier for the unions to organize why didn't he change the rules to make it easier to get rid of a union?

    6. Rich says:

      Proof positive that unions no longer represent the people….No taxation without representation should be the motto of everyone trying to fend off unions unwanted thuggery…

    7. Lloyd Scallan (New O says:

      Andy Stern (SEIU) and Richard Trumka (AFL-CIO) are headline speakers at

      major socialist, communist, and progressive groups world wide. If you really want to know what todays unions are all about, just look at these two union leaders and who supports them.

    8. William Person says:

      You only need a unuion if you have no faith in your own personal performance!!!!

    9. Dawn, Minneapolis says:

      No the allegations the union has filled against management were not laughable.. there is an 82 page document that clearly outlines many cases of interference and intimidation. The company spent 40 MILLION dollars, paying the anti-union busting firm, Ford and Harrison to run the campaign. Meanwhile, we are under 40% paycuts, and have been for four years.. we are asking for a liveable wage. There were employees that were cornered in a managers office, to be reprimanded by several managers at one time with the doors closed to discuss the union election and why we dont need one. So that is not interference? All we want is a fair election. Not interference nor intimidation from our employees. The enormous amount of false information sent out on glossy flyers, every other day to our house was just wrong. They didnt send factual information out, they sent blatant lies.

      And to William Person, learn how to spell union.. and have you worked for an airlines William? Have you been working 13 hours during the day and been called to go another four? Well when you have a union, you can excerise your right to walk off the plane, for you wouldnt want a tired fatigued flight attendant working the flight would you.. and guess what, our CEO back in 04 when we went into bankruptcy wanted to outsource our jobs to foreign nationals, at the rate of $2.00 an hour. We had Chinese Nationals ready to go to take our international flying at the rate of TWO DOLLARS an hour…but guess what, our union said no… thankfully, and saved my job. So I am very grateful that I had a union. And now it is starting to happen again.. we are flying planes south of Tokyo, which ALWAYS had to have two American based flight attendants mixed in within the Asian crews…now they are going with NO American based flight attendants…guess what…THAT is outsourcing, and that is scary stuff.

      So William, get your facts and become educated on what a union can offer before you make such a statement about 'unuion'.

      The following is what we stand to lose if we do not get a revote and an opportunity to have a FAIR election, one where management does not interfere, nor intimidate the workers.

      Foreign National Agreement..LOA 6


      Crew Meals-domestic..eliminated*

      2 yr Core Uniform & Outer Coat ..reduced*

      401K co. contribution*

      Company Paid Insurance..reduced*

      3hr/day vacation…reduced to 2:45hr/day

      Vacation 3 day sliding..eliminated

      Drug & Alcohol Testing Pay..eliminated.


      13hr scheduled duty day..

      14hr domestic walk time.. ..will change to

      14hr scheduled duty day..

      16hr domestic walk time..

      12 Rest at Base reduced to 9 hrs with 14 hr duty day.

      Day Rooms..reduced*

      Split Lines..eliminated*

      Flight Hour Bank


      Surface DH Pay reduced from 1hr pay to $9/hr..

      Crew Activity Statements..eliminated

      Missing,Internment &

      Hostage Benefits.

      (Section 26)

      Contract paid at 100hrs/month…

      No known company policy on this so considered eliminated.

      Language reimbursement…reduced $1000.

      Seniority Based transfers-Satellites..eliminated*

      10-1/2 day Jumpseat..reduced to 3days for travel to work and 2 days for personal travel…

      Review Crew Orders..eliminated


      Base Bumping..eliminated

      Recall Rights..eliminated

      ProStan Committee..eliminated

      Seniority Based Trip Trading….more on this later in Q&A’s on Scheduling

    10. Bob, Myrtle Beach says:

      The only thing that a union can do for workers is reduce overall efficiency and productivity of the workforce. If you think that is good for the company then you are part of the problem in this counrty.

    11. Dan (Minnesota says:

      Unions are for lazy people, and its sad to say this country is full of them. Anybody with a good work ethic doesn't need a union to get ahead in life.

    12. Bobbie says:

      "You only need a union if you have no faith in your own personal performance!!!!" Exactly William, Dawn pointed it out perfectly! ooh, and that public education taught her how to correct the spelling of her pride, union!!! Good for you, Dawn!

    13. TaterSalad says:

      Unions and Communism: If unions do not denounce socialism and communism in public very soon, every Union will become a thing of the past, public or private.


    14. M. Alan Silvers, Fli says:

      Dawn, you aren't being forced to work for a company that doesn't provide a "liveable wage" as you put it. You have to option to quit and go to work for a company that has a union…

      Oh, wait. You can't. Those companies are in the process of laying workers off. Guess you are stuck, aren't you?

    15. Pingback: Unions That Won’t Take ‘No’ for an Answer

    16. Perry, OK says:

      If any of our work force want to go union, I show them the road to Michigan, and do not come back.

    17. Spiritof76, NH says:

      It is time to get rid of the mill stone around the necks of the hard working people at the airline indusrty and elsewhere. The unions made sense over eighty yars ago. This is 21st century with internet enabling workers to be more productive and free while raising the opportunity to make it anywhere. The unions have become a drag on the nation making it necessary to export the jobs. If you have ever worked in a union shop you will understand why the unions with their suffocating work rules can only lead to prosperity in the right to work states. Change the rules so that the unions have to fight to represent every time three years and the employer should be free to choose whether they want the same unionized work force after a contract expires. Bust up the union monopoly and price fixing schemes.

    18. Leon Lundquist, Dura says:

      Unions do not Represent any more than Obama and the DINOs Represent. They love to get rid of American jobs, whole Industries were sold down the river by Communist infiltrated Unions. List all the so called benefits you want, if we don't have a job they are not actually benefits! Are they? Now the worst thing is the Government Union. Now they are getting 30% more than comparable private industry. That calls for a 30% pay cut for all government workers across the board! The point is Unions represent Communists, and they do not allow older experienced workers to get more pay for more work! The cut us off from the most lucrative time of our lives, we have to all be paid the same as the new guys who don't know s**t from shinola! Look folks! That is Socialism, and just like American Industry the American Government is going broke!

      Back in the good old days Unions meant something, but now they mean Income Redistribution and Communist failure! They shouldn't be allowed to use the word Union! They have run the whole idea of Unionism into the ground. Nobody should trust Unions, they only want to destroy America according to the Soviet plan. Proof is, now they supported and elected a third generation Communist into office with Obama. Ask the Members of Unions "Are you a Communist?" See! They still don't know! They were completely misrepresented (and lost all their Industries besides).

    19. DPR says:

      Unions can, and have, become, in some cases, the enemy that they were set out to destroy. Bloated, shady, and manipulative union actions are legend. But, in some other cases, they are the ONLY known method of fairly negotiating against the worst of corporate greed.(NWA-Delta)

      I've read some whinings about Obama's support for "changing the voting rules", and I wonder just what gripe does anybody have for a vote where you don't count the votes, but rather, count the people who don't vote at all vs.the people who do vote for something? No other voting I know of is decided this way, and I dare say that anybody who is against unions would not enjoy the reverse scenario where having a union is the automatic vote and you must vote no to be counted.

      Regarding NWA-Delta….If unions were so bad for workers, then why would a company spend so much money to stop them from being formed at their workplace? Yes, unions affect the bottom line of corporate america. So does the 40hr work week. So do OSHA rules. So do anti-Polution laws. So do Child labor laws. So do minimum wage laws. Corporations, without some social(ist) forces, will rarely give up anything that doesn't make them more money. Why should unions be attacked for behaving in the same self-interested way? When management takes an equal 40% pay cut as the workers during hard times, then you may be able to start an "atmosphere of teamwork". Until then, after seeing big bonuses handed out to NWA management after a "successful" bankrupcy averting negotiation,(4 years ago?) NWA,( now Delta), workers have every reason to be wary of any promises.

      If its not your fight, stay out. (Comments by arm-chair quarterbacks are a waste of everybodys time.)

      P.S. Yes, my wife is a flight attendant.

    20. Tom Drumm, Sebatopol says:

      It is hardly true that it is only the union side that ever disputes the results of a representation election. In light of the content of this article, what is it again that you find to be wrong with the Employee Free Choice Act?

    21. NYC Delta FA says:

      I am a proud Delta Flight Attendant. I am treated well by my company. I am paid a fair wage. Would I like to be paid more? Sure but for what the industry pays at my seniority level – I am blessed with my overall compensation package. I love the comment "You only need a union if you don't believe in your own personal performance." It's right on. So many union supporters I've flown with seem to support the union in hopes that if management ever really found out about their work ethic that they would still have a job. I'd be happy to lose them as there are thousands of people who want this job and will work hard at it.

      I read the 80 page document of fantasy straw grasping from the AFA. They LOST. Fair and square. The AFA tried to intimated more than Delta ever could have. Delta only provided facts – all i heard from the AFA were scare tactics and rumors. They hardly provided a positive campaign of themselves but a negative campaign of the company. People got out and voted their own opinions. 94% of the work force voted. Dawn, how dumb do you think Flight Attendants are? Seriously? If anything the vote results show is that the AFA will not respect a vote. I would have had more respect for the union had they graciously accepted the results – but instead they scream foul, and claim that I'm misinformed and intimidated and unable to make my own choice because the company brainwashed me. It's laughable and out right offensive.

      I'm a positive person who is thankful for what I do have. I am thankful for the opportunities I have. So many of the Dawn-type union supporters out there spend so much of their work day complaining about what we don't have that it makes me insane. The Flight Attendant job has its difficulties but for the most part it is the easiest job I've ever had. Show up. Smile at people. Serve a drink. Sometimes put up with a jerk or two – but really – its easy. Keep it simple stupid. KISS – I love that monicker.

      I've voted NO this time around and I'll vote NO again. The sad thing is that I am being used as a political pawn by the Obama administration and all the union thugs out there. As I've learned throughout my life in reading literature and fiction – and even some great non-fiction stories is that good triumphs over evil. The Delta Flight Attendant is the David right now before a big Goliath of government and union cronies – I think we will win. We may have to vote NO over and over again. But we will win.

    22. Sally, Atlanta says:

      Once again, AFA supporters do not tell the truth! Dawn's letter is full of non-factual information. I am not going to go through every single item but a few… as a pre-merger Delta flight attendant I am paid my full flight pay per hour to deadhead NOT the $9 per hour figure she quotes. The pre-merger Northwest side are the ones who have foreign nationals NOT the pre-merger Delta flights. We had foreign nationals a few years ago but we no longer do because it didn't work for us. She talks about split lines which is where two flight attendants share one full-time work schedule. On the pre-merger Delta side, we have tons more flexibility with our schedules than they do. We can drop down to 0 hours! She doesn't mention jetway trades where we can drop part of our trip and they cannot. Dawn also neglects to mention that at the top pay scale, the pre-merger Delta flight attendants make 14% more than our counterparts at pre-merger Northwest. Delta also contributes more to my 401K than the AFA negotiated to be contributed to those of the pre-merger Northwest folks.

      It was the AFA who interfered in our election. They called flight attendants to ask if you'd voted and HOW you voted during the election. They told lies like we were going to have to share hotel rooms on layovers if we voted out the union. They said that Delta was going to close pre-merger Northwest bases if we voted out the union. They said we were going to take pay cuts and they were going to outsource our jobs.

      I resent the fact that the unions are holding our company back from totally integrating our two work forces. We voted and we said NO! It costs Delta money to operate as two separate workforces & it costs the pre-merger Northwest flight attendants money in their wallets!

    23. Mike says:

      It's funny how you all post about unions ruining performance and companies. Looking at the reports from the Department of Transportation Delta ranked last or near last out of the major airline in on-time arrivals, coustomer complaints, and completion factor. Besides JetBlue, Delta is the only mostly non-union airline…and their performance SUCKS compared to unionized Alaska Airlines (won jd powers award 3 years in a row) and many others.

      Perhaps what would help Delta become a good airline again is a UNION!

    24. Pingback: Union Free | Positive Employee Relations | Employee Free Choice Act | Labor Relations Institute

    25. Bruce, MD says:

      Unions are nothing but legalized thugs. If they were really investigated by the FBI, they would find, extorsion, bribes to government (democrat) officials, threats to those who vote against unions, false income documentation to the IRS and so on. The Obama administration and his "workers" condone this type of behavior. I would LOVE to see union people show up on my dorrstep like the SEIU did in Maryland, SEIU mob which showed up on the doorstep of a Bank of America executive, whose 14-year-old son was cringing and hiding in a bathroom inside. http://www.uncoverage.net/2010/06/seiu-protest-in… If they came to my house my friends would all be there to "greet" them…you know my friends Mr. Smith and Mr Wesson and others…

    26. Jerry in Minnesota says:

      I was a Northwest worker who now works for Delta. I voted in favor of the union. In all honesty? I never saw one instance wherein Delta "interfered" with anything. They defended their position as, I believe, they had every right to. I can't stand a whiny looser. We lost—get over it, IAM! I'm now loosing 3 dollars an hour because of their quest for a re-vote. So help me, if there is a re-vote, I will MOST certainly vote against the union, as I probably should have done this time!

    27. Alan smith says:

      It’s really helpful for me which I have ever seen.Its presented well and nicely written which easy to understand.Thank you very much for the information.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.