IAM shelves bid to represent Delta workers

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers has dropped an effort to organize Delta Air Lines flight attendants. The union’s election at Boeing South Carolina is still on.

The same union that’s seeking to represent several thousand Boeing South Carolina workers has dropped an election among Delta Air Lines flight attendants after questions were raised about support cards submitted by the labor group.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers says it will try again next year.

Delta has about 20,000 flight attendants, and the union’s decision is a reprieve for the company, which has the lowest percentage of union workers of any leading U.S. airline. Only 18 percent of Delta’s employees are represented by a union, compared with 83 percent at Southwest Airlines, 82 percent at American Airlines and its US Airways affiliate, and 80 percent at United Airlines, according to recent filings by each company.

Shares of Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines Inc. fell 49 cents to close at $41.76. They have dropped 15 percent this year after rising 79 percent last year.

Delta is the largest carrier by passenger volume at Charleston International Airport.

Unions need support from at least 50 percent of eligible workers to hold an election. The machinists union said on its website that a number of support cards it submitted to the National Mediation Board, a federal agency that oversees airline-industry elections, had insufficient information or questionable signatures.

The union didn’t give numbers. The union vowed to renew its organizing drive and seek an election next year.

Allison Ausband, a Delta senior vice president, said Monday that the union’s decision seemed to validate concerns raised in January when the union filed for an election.

The machinists union also is campaigning among Boeing Co. production workers in North Charleston, where an election is scheduled for April 22.

More than 3,000 of the roughly 7,000 employees at Boeing South Carolina are eligible to vote.

Gov. Nikki Haley, a Republican, has campaigned against the union.

Boeing assembles the 787 Dreamliner at its main plant in North Charleston. Its management is opposed to the union and has been actively campaigning workers to reject the IAM’s offer.

The Post and Courier contributed to this report.