|CEO Anderson photo courtesy of Delta Air Lines|
Does somebody actually advise Richard Anderson, the chief executive officer of Delta Air Lines or does he just wing it when he talks tough like he did recently on Fox News?
In a fawning interview earlier this summer with anchorman, Neil Cavuto, Anderson sounded an awful lot like he was threatening to take his big ole Atlanta-based airline out of the country if those Obama liberals didn't stop messin' around with his nearly-non-union shop. Or that's how it sounded to me anyway. His PR department says otherwise. The full clip is below so you can decide for yourself.
Anderson is grumpy because of a change in labor policy that makes it easier for union organizers to win elections.
To understand what's changed you need to know that in the past, when employees were presented with the option of joining a union it wasn't just the "yes" votes and the "no" votes that were counted. The number of people who did not vote was tallied too and those non-votes were considered "no" votes. The philosophy behind this somewhat odd practice is to make sure that a majority of all employees vote for the change, giving a voice even to those workers who don't want one enough to actually cast a vote.
I'm not going to weigh in on whether this is right or just, because some folks already did. The National Mediation Board in 2010 ruled that in all labor organizing efforts for employees covered by the National Railway Labor Act, and that includes aviation workers, only active votes would be counted, non votes would not.
This ladies and gents, is the issue behind the two week suspension in FAA funding that saw workers laid off and progress on aviation projects like Next Gen, put on hold. The Delta boss was cited specifically by Sen. Jay Rockefeller as being the force putting the fiber in the Republicans. "I wish I understood why the policy objections of one company -- Delta Air Lines -- mattered more than the livelihoods of thousands of people," the senator said during the dust-up last week.
Certainly Delta is not alone in opposing anything that will increase the likelihood of unionizing. Fed Ex and UPS are also said to be lobbying hard to overturn the new National Mediation Board policy on union elections.
But it's only Delta's top dog who decided to go on national television and threaten the nation with its exodus. A Delta spokeswoman chided me saying that's not at all what Anderson meant, and of course, we know he didn't really mean he was pulling out of Hotlanta. But here's what he said.
|Photo of Atlanta Hartsfield Airport courtesy of Delta|
Have you skipped right on by that clip and kept on reading? Okay, no problem. "Capital is mobile," is what he said, suggesting clearly that if Congress comes down on the wrong side of the unionization policy, companies will pack up and move. He said it three times.
Anderson cites appreciatively the locomotive-like economies in Brazil and China. Now if Delta is planning to pull up stakes from Atlanta, its home for the last 70 years and carry its kit and kaboodle down to Rio or Shanghai that's news! Unfortunately, and Mr. Anderson surely knows this, a raft of restrictions would have to be changed for a US airline to makes its headquarters anywhere outside of the USA.
Anderson's just flapping his gums, as they say down south. Which takes me back to my original question. What is this guy thinking? With a position like his "play it my way or I'm taking my toys and going home," he's out of his league in Atlanta all right. He'd be a lot more at home in Washington D.C..