Flight Attendants Union Takes On Delta Air Lines for COVID Isolation Time

The president of the nation’s largest union of flight attendants has taken Delta Air Lines to task for shortening the isolation time employees can take while recovering from COVID-19.

”Getting multiple reports @Delta is telling workers across work groups that they should come to work with symptoms [of COVID-19] even if someone in the household tested positive,” Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA union. posted on Jan. 6 on Twitter.

”And test positive workers should come to work after five days if the fever is below 100.9 [degrees Fahrenheit], even if still testing positive.”

The union represents almost 50,000 flight attendants working at 17 different airlines, but does not represent attendants at Delta, according to the organization.

A day after the tweet was posted, Delta Air Lines’ chief legal officer, Peter Carter, sent Nelson and the union a cease-and-desist letter, CNBC reported.

”Not only is this information false, but it is actionable because it places Delta in a highly negative light by suggesting Delta was asking employees to work while they were ill,” Carter’s letter read. ”Such irresponsible conduct is inappropriate, defamatory and must cease immediately.”

Nelson has been trying to unionize the airline since 2019 and was reacting to reports she received that Delta updated its policy regarding the amount of time workers should wait before returning to work after testing positive for COVID-19 from 10 days to five while still being paid and not having to use sick time.

”Delta’s policy now refers to being asymptomatic before returning to work, which was a serious concern as that CDC guidance was initially omitted from Delta’s policy announcement,” she wrote to Delta CEO Ed Bastian on Tuesday, CNBC reported.

”But we are still getting questions from Delta flight attendants about returning to work with a low-grade fever and about the fact that Delta’s current policy only recommends to test before returning to work and does not require a test.”

Delta was one of the large companies that lobbied the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reduce the amount of quarantine time workers positive with the disease would have to use before returning to work after that airline and others had to cancel thousands of flights over the holidays due to workers calling in sick amid the surge of the omicron variant.

The employee absences and winter storms led to more than 20,000 flight cancellations between Christmas and the first week of 2022, CNBC’s report said.

The CDC updated its recommendation for the quarantine period, cutting it in half so that essential workers could get back on the job sooner and keep the country running, the agency said.

A Delta spokesperson told CNBC on Tuesday that the airline has always ”followed the science” in its policies and that it sent the letter to Nelson to stop ”misinformation.”

”Delta has always followed the science to form our policies regarding COVID-19,” the Delta spokesperson told CNBC on Tuesday. ”We sent a cease-and-desist letter because we believe institutions and leaders must speak carefully, truthfully, and factually.”

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