Did Delta Break Its Promise to Minnesota Workers?

Delta Delta is rerouting its personnel. The airline announced on June 7 that it plans to send several hundred jobs from its Minnesota-St.Paul hub to its headquarters in Atlanta.

The relocations are to begin this year and will proceed through 2012. The moves stem from Delta's buyout of Northwest Airlines in 2008. The deal, which made Delta the world's largest airline, was made on the condition that CEO Richard Anderson would keep jobs, including employees working in technical support in Minnesota.

Three years in, Delta is still leaving 12,000 posts in Minnesota, but is moving the training departments for pilots, flight attendants and simulators down South. The move enables the aviation giant to eliminate redundancies, as in pilot training. Other moves made in the name of efficiency include the retirement of old aircraft. The moves have drawn the ire of local officials.

"I am extremely disappointed Delta is now backing away from that promise by moving jobs out of Minnesota," said Rep. John Kline, a Republican who represents the Second District, located just south of St. Paul.

Among those joining the chorus railing against Delta was Gov. Mark Dayton, and Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Rep. Keith Ellison, whose Fifth District includes Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Amid the outcry, Delta responded to AOL Jobs and other outlets with this statement:

"Rapidly rising fuel prices and added cost pressures are the new reality for our business, one that requires the most efficient use of our assets and investments.... We've kept our commitment to no frontline involuntary furloughs as a result of the merger and have jobs available for every employee who is willing to relocate as part of the facility consolidation."

Delta declined to elaborate further.

Airline executives, however, spoke of furloughs as early as spring of 2008. According to a report from April 20 of that year, published in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, Mike Campbell, Delta's executive vice president of human resources, said that because of the merger, "there may be some involuntary furloughs on the management and the administrative side."

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