When Delta Airlines absorbed Northwest Airlines in 2008, the expanded Delta employed about twenty thousand flight attendants, or FAs as they’re called in the industry. The thirteen thousand Delta FAs weren’t unionized; the seven thousand that came over from Northwest were.
The nation’s largest flight attendant union, the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) saw the opportunity to build membership numbers and lobbied the united workforce to unionize. The question went to a vote and the results were excruciatingly close: votes in favor fell 328 short out of 18,760 cast. Subsequently, the USA Today published a roundup of media reports and readers reactions.
1. One argument in favor of joining labor unions works from fairness, the idea that if workers are benefittingfrom the work done by a collective, they should sign up and contribute their share of the dues required to pay for the lawyers and the negotiators a major union needs to operate.
How does the following reaction to the “no” vote intersect with the fairness argument? Flight attendant Cindy Hanks said, “I’m ecstatic. There is no reason for a union at Delta. I get paid more than my co-workers [who worked for Northwest before the merger]. I have an open-door policy with my management. Whenever I have a complaint, I am listened to, and there is always a resolution. I’m not left in the dark.” [4]
2. One person added this comment below the story about the culture around Delta: “Nobody cares about workers’ rights, including the workers.” [5]
One argument in favor of joining labor unions works from a notion of solidarity. With respect to labor unions, what’s the solidarity argument for joining the FA union at Delta?
3. Some of the responses to the Delta vote didn’t concern the specific FA union but the question of unions generally. For example, one commenter believes a stigma attaches to union membership, a bad one. As he puts it, “I have read pro union people are lazy and want protection.” Another commentator adds that unions have, “basically destroyed the auto industry and the steel industry.” [6]
How can this criticism of unions and union workers be converted into an ethical argument in favor of an economic star system?
4. A person identified as dinstinctM wrote, “Labor unions BUILT the American middle class. The middle class that is shrinking as unions have been decimated.” [7]
This is an economic claim. Assume it’s true. How can it be converted into an ethical claim in favor of the FA union?

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