While the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) has not publicly stated that it is interested in representing Delta flight attendants, flight attendants have reported that AFA supporters have solicited them to sign Authorization Cards (a-cards) for the AFA. In April 2018, an “umpire” for the AFL-CIO, an affiliation of unions, granted IAM an 18-month period to organize at Delta – despite AFA’s arguments that IAM was not entitled to such “exclusivity.” Delta believes that regardless of the acronym (IAM or AFA), third parties are interested in our flight attendants for one reason – the millions of dollars they represent in mandatory union dues. Our people should know the facts before signing an A-card for either the IAM or AFA.
Delta flight attendants have rejected the AFA three times, in 2002, 2008 and after the Northwest merger in 2010.
AFA is desperate for new members and their dues. They currently represent approximately 38,000 flight attendants, down from nearly 53,000 in 2002.
The AFA merged with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) in 2004 due to loss of membership and risk of financial insolvency. In 2017, AFA reported total assets of less than $5.5 million.
As with any union, AFA dues are mandatory, and have a history of increasing – rising 16% in the past 8 years. Delta flight attendants are worth approximately $15 million in annual mandatory dues to the AFA.
AFA bylaws state that represented flight attendants are required to continuing paying dues during the first 90 days of disability leave – even when not receiving compensation from their employers.
An AFL-CIO arbitrator ordered the AFA to stop organizing efforts at Delta for 18 months, after bickering between AFA and the IAM over who would get the “exclusive right” to try to secure Delta flight attendants’ dues money.
Despite decades of representing United’s flight attendants, AFA was not able to protect their pension plan from being terminated during United’s bankruptcy. Delta, on the other hand, froze its flight attendant pension – and continues to fund this plan. In exchange for the terminated pension, AFA negotiated a 401(k) plan that does not take into account profit sharing. Delta flight attendants receive 401(k) contributions on both base pay and profits sharing.
The AFA leadership is supposedly made up of “volunteers” – working flight attendants. Yet nearly 30 union officers and employees made more than $100,000 in salaries and disbursements in 2017.
The AFA has taken years to negotiate collective bargaining agreements for the flight attendants it represents – even with workgroups much smaller that Delta’s.