MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Delta Air Lines did not interfere in an election where baggage handlers rejected a union, a federal labor board ruled on Wednesday.

Delta said the decision clears the way to line up the pay and benefits of baggage handlers who came from Northwest Airlines, which Delta bought in 2008. At Northwest, those workers were represented by the International Association of Machinists. At Delta, they did not belong to a union.

In a vote a year ago, 54 percent of the 10,593 voting workers in the combined group rejected the union.

The IAM claimed Delta had interfered by allowing voting on company computers, which it could monitor, and that airline supervisors made it difficult for pro-union workers to discuss the vote with their colleagues.

The National Mediation Board interviewed workers and managers around the country. It said Delta had encouraged workers to vote from home, but made company computers available if workers wanted to use them. And it said that any manager interference or increased presence was minor and did not amount to a “systematic effort to monitor the IAM’s activities.”

Except for pilots and flight dispatchers, Delta was non-union when it bought Northwest, where all the front-line workers were represented. Unions have lost all the votes to determine whether they would represent the combined groups, although pilots and flight dispatchers remain unionized.

The national mediation board is still looking into IAM claims of interference in an election for ticket counter and gate agents, reservations workers, and some cargo workers. Last month the board found that Delta also did not interfere when flight attendants narrowly rejected the Association of Flight Attendants.

Delta has said that the election disputes are the reason it has not been able to align pay, benefits, and work rules between the workers who came from Delta and those who came from Northwest. As each group’s interference claim has been resolved, Delta has moved to integrate the two groups.

Shares of Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines Inc. edged up 4 cents to $8.51 in afternoon trading.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (3)
  1. dan says:

    Go figure, the company that is still in business and running a profit is a non-union shop.
    Maybe Northwest would still be in MN if the Unions didnt kill the company.

    1. GCM says:

      dan – you have no idea what you’re talking about. NWA was killed by Checchi and Wilson when the airline industry was de-regulated. They setup a parent company and made the airline buy everything through the parent company to shore up the balance sheet. The airline then “appeared” to be losing money when in fact it was always one of the most profitable groups.

  2. Mechanic says:

    Northwest actually bought Delta, NWA loaned Delta the money to buy them.
    Without that loan Delta would have filed for bankruptcy. Delta was in a sense back doored by NWA’s old CEO, who is now the CEO of Delta.
    The above is here-say, but I believe every word of it. The mechanics were told by that very CEO at a meeting that NWA was in the best position financially, of any airline, to acquire another airline.

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