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Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines was the world's most widely flown airline in 1999, carrying 106 million passengers a year to 364 cities in 61 countries. The company's annual profits exceed $1 billion on revenues of $14 billion. Flight attendants are the largest employee group, making up 20,000 of the company's 70,000 employees. To improve their jobs and company, flight attendants are joining together with the Association of Flight Attendants.

While the airline industry makes bigger marketing and public relations promises to passengers, the quality of air travel is actually declining. Flight attendants are squeezed between irate passengers and the airline industry's push for profits. For example, part of Delta's marketing strategy has been to label flight attendants "nannies" for elite business travelers-and in general promise ever-rising levels of comfort and service, while at the same time limiting staffing and the tools flight attendants need to maintain federal safety standards and service. With deregulation and globalization of the airline industry, Delta has transformed itself from a "family" company to one where cutbacks, contracting-out, harsher supervision and revolving management are common.

"I've worked a 15-hour day," said Amy Gale, a Delta flight attendant. "I've worked 13 hours after an 8 1/2-hour layover. There basically are no rules." With a union, she said, "we could get the rules in writing and they'd be binding."

Delta has responded to employees by spending more than $3 million on consulting firms that specialize in crushing employees' efforts to join together. On one hand, flight attendants are being offered a carrot-raises, early retirement and free computers-to "change" their minds about forming a union. On the other hand, flight attendants are being hit with a stick-prevented from talking to each other about their union, isolated for speaking out and bombarded with misleading company mailings and videos.

As Delta flight attendants join together for better jobs and a better company, they are asking Delta to be fair and respect their freedom to join together for a voice at work. They believe they should be able to speak out on all issues-from working conditions to passenger service and from job security to scheduling. Flight attendants are circulating the "Appeal for Fairness" throughout their communities so Delta knows the public agrees that basic workplace freedoms should be respected.

To sign the appeal online, visit the unions@work community at

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