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Delta tells nonunion workers they should just buy video games instead of joining a union

Delta tells nonunion workers they should just buy video games instead of joining a union
[Photo: Miguel Ángel Sanz/Unsplash]

For the past few years, Delta Air Lines employees have been trying to form a union. While the airlines pilots and dispatchers are represented by their own union, other employees do not have such representation. According to one unionization campaign for Delta’s ramp workers, the airline puts a cap on the number of hours part-time employees can work, as well as provides expensive and inadequate health insurance. Delta has gone to great lengths to hinder the unionization effort.

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The unionization campaign has been ongoing for a while–and the airline has responded in some bizarre ways. Last year, Splinter wrote about Delta’s questionable anti-union propaganda. That includes a website called “Don’t Risk It. Don’t Sign It.”–the “it” being a union card–and posters claiming that the unions are run by rich fat cats raking in dough from poor unionized employees.

Now Delta is at it again, this time with a new and even more patronizing poster:

The message is clear: Why join a union when you can just buy a video game console instead? While the people who helped craft that message may have thought they made something pithy and memorable, the result wasn’t quite that. Instead, Delta comes off more like a rich grandfather explaining to his grandchildren that they should be happy with the Applebee’s gift card he set aside for them in his will.

I reached out to Delta for comment and will update if I hear back (Update: see below).

In its last earnings report, Delta exceeded revenue expectations–hitting $10.47 billion; its profits jumped 31% to $730 million. While business is booming, the airline is taking great pains to ensure that those making an average of $14.31/hour don’t seek out worker protections or the ability to get better and comprehensive compensation. Meanwhile, Delta’s CEO, Ed Bastian, received total compensation of over $13 million in 2017.

With this latest tone-deaf poster, Delta seems to be telling employees that they should use their hard-earned money to buy mindless entertainment that will help them forget they are being under-compensated and undervalued. For now, let’s hope Delta employees are able to get both a union and a new gaming system.

Update: Delta has provided me with the following statement:

The direct relationship we have with our employees is at the very core of our strong culture and it has enabled continuous investments in Delta people. Our employees have the best total compensation in the industry, including the most lucrative profit sharing program in the world. They want and deserve the facts and we respect our employees’ right to decide if a union is right for them. Delta has shared many communications, which on the whole make clear that deciding whether or not to unionize should not be taken lightly.

Disclosure: The Fast Company editorial staff is represented by the Writers Guild of America-East.

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