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Delta Air Lines battles with nation’s largest flight attendant union over shortened Covid sick leave

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Delta Airlines Flight Attendants Hand out Refreshments to Crowded Delta Airlines Flights from Ronald Regan National Airport To MinneapolisSaint Paul International Airport Friday May 21, 2021

Kent Nishimura | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images

Delta Air LinesAfter its president had criticized Covid-19’s shortening of sick leave policies, the largest union representing flight attendants in the country was sent a cease and desist letter to the organization.

Sara Nelson (president of the Association of Flight Attendants) tweeted on Thursday that Delta had received “multiple” reports that it was telling its workers that their symptoms were not being treated. According to her, positive employees were instructed to report to work “after 5 days if the fever falls below 100.9” even if they are still positive.

AFA was sent the letter by Peter Carter, Delta’s Chief Legal Officer, a day after.

Carter wrote that “not only is it false but also it can be taken action because it puts Delta in a very negative light” by suggesting Delta asked employees to work when they were sick. Carter’s letter stated that such irresponsible conduct was unacceptable and defamatory. It must be stopped immediately.

Nelson, who is not a union representative of Delta’s flight attendants, but started an organizing driveIn November 2019, she defended herself and stated that Delta’s policies had confused flight crews.

She wrote Tuesday to Delta CEO Ed Bastian, “Delta now refers that you must be asymptomatic before you return to work,”. This was a concern because the CDC guidance had been omitted in Delta’s initial policy announcement. We are still receiving questions from Delta flight attendants regarding returning to work after a low-grade fever. They also want to know that Delta’s current policy does not recommend testing before returning to work.

Delta updated its Covid sick leave policy on Dec. 28 to five days off with pay protection — reduced from 10 days — that doesn’t require staff to use days in their sick banks. The fifth positive test can give staff an extra two days.

According to the carrier, it had requested that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reduce its recommendation for isolation for Covid breakthrough infections by half to five days. This was in warning of staff shortages and possible flight cancellations. JetBlue AirwaysThe same was requested by other carriers. The CDC published updated guidance Dec. 27 after the release of looser recommendations for healthcare workers.

Cancellations by staff sick with Covid or a series winter storms were more than 20,000 in the period between Christmas Eve and the start of the New Year. United AirlinesCovid crews still have 10 days pay protection. Covid said Tuesday it will further reduce its schedule with about 3,000 employees, approximately 4%, who are positive for coronavirus.

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