Union leadership from the IAM Air Transport Territory recently held a barbecue at IAM Local 1894 in Queens, NY, just minutes from airports where Machinists are organizing ramp workers at Delta Air Lines.
“It’s important to engage these workers. They must know about our union’s tremendous benefits,” said Edison Fraser, IAM Air Transport Territory Chief of Staff. “I am energized today and I’m looking forward to a great turnout. The workers can come down here and have meaningful conversations with us. We can get them on board, answer questions and let them know who we are and what we stand for. It gives them a chance to sit and talk to us personally.”
The event also allowed the ramp workers, who staff JFK and LaGuardia airports, to sign authorization cards (A-cards) which will help us proceed toward a union representation election. In a historic move, the IAM, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA have teamed-up to organize ramp workers, aircraft mechanics and flight attendants, respectively, at Delta.
“I’m a firm believer that everybody should have a good job, where they have a voice and be able to support their family off of a single income. They need to take care of their families and I want that for Delta’s employees,” said Gary Naylor, IAM Air Transport Territory Grand Lodge Representative. “It really means something to me if these workers have a voice and a say in their future. When they join our union they will control their own destiny. They’re great people and are family oriented. They are working hard to make their kid’s lives and family’s lives better.”
Ramp workers at Delta reached out to the IAM after expressing concern about lagging wages that are below industry standard. They’ve also grown frustrated by poor management and scheduling inconsistencies.
“We spend a lot of time at our jobs. We spend a lot of time doing work and we spend a lot of time away from our families. So, if we are going to make that trade-off then it needs to be worth it,” said William H. Payne III, a Delta ramp worker who helped promote the event. “We need to take care of our families sufficiently.”
Payne III, a former college football player and father, who has worked at Delta for almost eight years, says the barbecue was successful and believes attendees walked away from the event comfortable about the organizing drive, a campaign that’s gaining traction nationwide.
“There’s more that can be done to take care of the workers as a whole,” said Payne III. “I think that it’s time that the other employees that work for the airline, who work very hard, are compensated and taken care for the long term.”
The IAM Air Transport Territory plans more barbecues and social gatherings as the organizing drive intensifies and union leaders look forward to engaging more Delta employees at meet and greet gatherings.
“We are gaining a lot of momentum with the ramp workers. They are eager for a union. My hope is that they will continue to sign A-cards,” said Fraser. “We anticipate a victory in this campaign.”