BROOKLYN (CN) – Delta sued the Association of Flight Attendants in a quarrel over work assignments for more than 13,000 employees. The union filed a grievance against Northwest Airlines before it merged with Delta. Now Delta complains that the grievance would affect “more than 13,000 pre-merger Delta flight attendants … who are not represented by the AFA or any other union.”
Delta asks the Federal Court to prevent the union from pursuing arbitration limiting work assignments under the collective bargaining agreement.
Delta says the grievance would limit assignments not only for former Northwest employees, but for “more than 13,000 pre-merger Delta flight attendants (approximately 65% of the combined post-merger flight attendant work group), who are not represented by the AFA or any other union.”
The controversy between unionized former NWA employees and non-unionized Delta workers created a situation in which “the pre-merger Northwest flight attendants continue to work under the separate wages, benefits, work rules, seniority list, and bidding procedures,” according to the complaint.
But the AFA’s grievance alleges that Delta has mixed NWA flight attendants with Delta pilots, and vice-versa, in violation of a contract, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Delta contends that the AFA’s grievance is “inextricably intertwined” with the National Mediation Board’s “representation dispute,” and is not subject to arbitration.
The union’s general counsel Ed Gilmartin summed up the airline’s action in a statement to union members: “Delta has run to federal court to ask the court for permission to violate its own contractual promises and not arbitrate the Scope grievance. AFA regrets Delta’s action, but the union will vigorously defend its position.”
Delta seeks an injunction barring arbitration. It is represented by Robert Siegel with O’Melveny & Myers.