JonNYC leaked a Delta memo to employees that went out on Friday. Ground and flight attendant employees get a 4% raise. Employees who receive merit-based pay adjustments will have a 4% increase in the total compensation pool available to them. And bonuses are expected to be higher, too.
Just as importantly the airline communicates that it is investing in solving pain points in jobs, and employees are reminded that they’re empowered to address the most important issues at the airline (safety). It’s a well-written memo. (
However, see update at bottom of post. Update 2: Memo has been confirmed as authentic by several Delta employees as well now by official sources.)
Sometimes Delta’s anti-union messaging is off, but it’s compensation and culture where they’re able to deliver the difference with other airlines and why their mostly non-union workforce works for both the company and employees.
Delta Delivers Higher Profit Sharing Than American
American Airlines pays out a lower percentage of profits in profit sharing, but they also make less money than Delta and have more employees — so the numerator is lower, and the denominator higher.
It’s worth noting that at United, of course, bonuses are designed not to be earned.
Delta Raise Puts Pressure on Southwest Negotiations
Southwest is offering flight attendants a 3% raise and looking for changes in how they schedule reserves. The Delta raise will put pressure on Southwest negotiations.
Southwest, for its part, still manages to fire poor performers and this is crucial to maintaining their work culture. Slackers, people with bad attitudes, who make work harder for and demoralizing to the rest of the workforce need to go for the benefit of the vast majority of employees.
Leadership Matters Even More Than Pay
Work isn’t just about pay, although pay is necessary. People need to feel like they’re on a mission that’s greater than themselves. And they need to like and respect their colleagues. That takes a clear vision from management and it requires a willingness to reward excellence and cull those who stand in the way of it.
As we enter Labor Day weekend, it’s important to remember that union shop or not management cannot abdicate its responsibility to select and retain the best talent while transitioning out employees who aren’t a good fit for the company — ensuring that everyone inside the business is able to respect the contributions of their colleagues. And management has to set a vision that inspires employees to be their best.
That may be easier to do in a non-union environment, but it’s also not impossible in a union one like at Southwest Airlines, provided that negotiations are approached from a perspective of giving each employee their due and not outsourcing management of the workforce to the unions themselves.
Update: There’s an obviously fake version of the above memo that’s circulating (9% raises etc) and that raises a question about the authenticity of the one that JonNYC shared and I passed along. I am investigating. Here’s the obvious fake:
Update 2: The original memo I posted is confirmed authentic.