Delta union story updated with airline and union reaction.
13,000 ground workers have voted not to unionize.
The vote was 5,569 against representation by the International Association of Machinists, and 5,024 for representation. Of the 10,593 votes cast, 52% opposed the union.
"We have said all along that we believe our direct relationship works well for our people and our company," Delta said in a prepared statement. "This is the seventh workgroup in which representation was resolved, resulting in no union for the more than 40,000 employees in these groups.
"Delta people have decided to preserve the Delta culture," the carrier said. "Our people are ready to move forward. It's time for the unions to respect the will of the majority."
Meanwhile, the IAM said it is "investigating allegations of widespread illegal election interference by Delta Air Lines."
Delta's 2008 merger with
brought together a largely non-union carrier with a heavily unionized carrier. At Northwest, the IAM represented about 4,700 fleet service workers while the Association of Flight Attendants represented about 7,000 flight attendants.
Two weeks ago, Delta's 20,000 flight attendants voted to remain union-free, in a 51% to 49% election, rejecting AFA's organizing effort. The union is
seeking a re-vote, saying Delta violated labor law with overly-intense campaigning. Delta maintains it did nothing wrong.
Also, Delta's simulator technicians rejected IAM representation in 2010, and Delta's meteorologists rejected union representation in March 2009. Delta's aircraft maintenance technicians and technical writers/planners also decided not to unionize: Northwest mechanics had been represented by AMFA.
The IAM has two additional unionization efforts underway at Delta. On Nov. 22, votes will be tabulated for about 700 maintenance "stock and stores" employees. On Dec. 7, votes will be tabulated for about 16,000 passenger service agents.
In a memo to employees, Gil West, Delta senior vice president for airport customer service, said the carrier is "ready to begin the process of aligning pay, benefits and work rules, and producing a single seniority list," but must wait to see if the IAM files a complaint about the election procedure with the National Mediation Board.
Following the announcement of the results, Delta shares were up nearly 4%, leading the airline sector. Shares were trading at $13.73, up 52 cents.
-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.
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