Delta Air Lines Was Known For Being Kind and Thoughtfulloght.
Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
It’s easy to like Delta Air Lines.
The company is much loved by its customers because it often seems to offer a little more, well, customer service.
It’s resisted getting rid of seatback screens.
It’s managed to temper the number of flight cancelations.
When executives from rival airlines fly Delta, even they can find nothing to complain about.
You might think, then, that Delta executives must be the most charming, urbane, lovable human beings.
You might also think that ice cream is improved by a dollop of soot.
This week, you see, there emerged the existence of a flyer. Its purpose was to discourage Delta employees from joining a union.
And some might find it a shocking departure from the familiar, friendly Delta tone.
There’s nothing that improves employee relations like telling your employees what to spend their money on, in a tone that suggests you think they’re a touch ignorant.
That’ll surely lift their spirits and increase their gratitude for being employed by you.
It’ll surely make those employees immediately buy video game systems and perhaps even start playing Fortnite. At work.
What could have possibly possessed Delta to employ such a crude cudgel?
Naturally, I asked the airline.
It confirmed that this was, indeed, a piece of official Delta communication.
An airline spokesman added:
The direct relationship we have with our employees is at the very core of our strong culture and it has enabled continuous investments in Delta people. Our employees have the best total compensation in the industry, including the most lucrative profit sharing program in the world. They want and deserve the facts and we respect our employees’ right to decide if a union is right for them. Delta has shared many communications, which on the whole make clear that deciding whether or not to unionize should not be taken lightly.
Delta respects its employees’ right to decide?
This flyer is about as respectful as a headbutt in church.
It’s about as respectful as an expectoration at a wake.
It’s about as respectful as knocking on a stranger’s door and, when they open, saying: “Hi, I just wanted to annoy you today.”
Why, it even upset independent politician — and occasional Democratic presidential candidate — Bernie Sanders. He mused:
Delta told employees to buy video games instead of forming a union. What a disgrace. Delta’s CEO made nearly $22 million in 2017 while paying ramp agents as little as $9/hour. I say to Delta: Stop trying to undercut workers’ right to form a union and negotiate for better wages.
It’s true that many of Delta’s employees are paid very well, even if some aren’t.
Then again, it’s not as if Delta doesn’t have unionized workers at all. Its pilots and dispatchers are unionized. Other employees — such as Flight Attendants — aren’t.
Does that mean Delta’s pilots and dispatchers don’t have video game systems?
I wonder indeed, how, say, Delta’s Flight Attendants might have reacted to being told to go and buy a video game system. Especially if they already have one.
This isn’t to pitch the benefits or not of joining a union. It’s merely to shake one’s head at the way Delta thinks it should talk to its staff.
I wonder, too, what customers might think on seeing Delta behaving in such a, well, non-Delta manner.
Sometimes, you really don’t know the true innards of some of your favorite companies. You might discover they’re not so nice at all.
It’s hard to imagine what was in the minds of those who created this flyer.
Perhaps they thought it showed bullishness, an aggressive confidence in their own righteousness.
A more likely truth, of course, is that it showed fear.