Sara Nelson on the Drive to Unionize Delta Flight Attendants


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Before the pandemic, Sara Nelson had emerged as one of the most visible leaders in the labor movement. The Association of Flight Attendants represents some fifty thousand workers and nearly twenty airlines, and, as the union’s international president, Nelson made regular appearances on CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, and Fox Business. During the pandemic, she became a critical voice amid reports of unruly and abusive passengers, urging Congress to pass greater protections for airline staff and pushing for restrictions on the sale of alcohol in airport terminals. “We’ve got a lot more work to do to get things under control,” Nelson tells Jennifer Gonnerman, who profiled her last month, “and make sure that people don’t think that when you get on a plane you get to punch the flight crew.” Organized labor is newly resurgent, with recent drives at Amazon making headlines. Nelson speaks about the push to unionize the flight attendants of Delta Air Lines, which—if successful—would be one of the largest union wins in recent history, covering almost twenty-four thousand workers.

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