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Wednesday, November 3, 2010 - 11:20am

Delta Attendants Reject Union

A flight attendants' union on Wednesday lost its all-or-nothing fight to cover those workers at Delta Air Lines Inc.

The results showed almost 48 percent of Delta flight attendants voted in favor of joining the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA. They needed a majority.

Until now, the AFA represented flight attendants who came from Northwest Airlines when Delta bought it in 2008. Those who were with Delta before the purchase were non-union. Now that Northwest and Delta are a single airline, the vote was needed to resolve the union issue for the combined group. Of Delta's 20,000 flight attendants, roughly 7,000 came from Northwest.

Voting is now under way for two large groups of Delta ground workers who are considering whether to join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

Delta shares jumped 56 cents, or 4 percent, to $14.41 immediately after the vote result was released, after trading roughly flat earlier in the day.

In the short run, the vote could raise Delta labor costs. Delta's non-union flight attendants made more than their counterparts who came from Northwest. Delta said it intends to raise pay to the same level for all flight attendants.

"We have said all along that we believe our direct relationship works well for our people and our company. Our flight attendants have spoken and we are pleased that so many flight attendants agree," the company said in a written statement.

Union president Patricia Friend blamed Delta's "heavy handed intimidation and coercion of voters" for the loss.

"They stopped at nothing to keep Delta flight attendants from gaining a voice and advancing their profession," she said in a written statement.

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