I’ve always had the airline industry in my family. My father began his career with United Airlines when I was a baby allowing me to enjoy flight benefits – but I quickly learned as I got older that something was off. The union to which my father belonged often put employees against the company, creating an us versus them mentality. It carries through to this day, even after 30+ years with the company.
Despite the challenges I witnessed my father encounter at United and under representation, I chose to join the airline industry by flying for a regional carrier in 2010. From the first day in training when the union reps visited and my initial instructors were asked to leave the room, I knew the culture was not for me. I found that under representation of the Teamsters union, I never once met or heard from my supervisor and the us versus them mentality permeated our airline personnel at every position. Countless peers were terminated or reprimanded for situations that with an open-door policy, could have been avoided. A human factor was missing. A “point-system” for absences amounted to peers being on final warning within 2-3 occurrences, no matter the reasoning. A few peers received special treatment for being union reps, such as requesting domicile hotels between trips because they didn’t like their crash pad, or positive space tickets home from vacation if they promised to pick up trips. The negativity and corruption, as well as inferior work rules such as full month reserve and no pay protection for cancelled flights, left many feeling underappreciated and this led to poor customer service and morale.
Leaving the union-represented carrier and with my father’s experiences in mind, I chose to come to Delta Air Lines, where I knew I’d enjoy a different culture. I’ve never been so proud of my place of work as I have been in the last 7 years at Delta. We truly have something unique that we sometimes take for granted. You never hear of employees willingly leaving behind what Delta offers in exchange for another airline. We see looks of envy on concourses and hear testimony in shared crew vans on layovers – other airline professionals want what we have. We have respect and appreciation from our leadership teams, as well as admiration of our customers and peers. In an ever changing industry, we will need to grow and change with it – through direct relationships, open door policy, and the EIG. I’ll never leave Delta Air Lines as long as we continue to foster this culture of following the Rules of the Road and mutual respect, while remaining union free.