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Today, Delta CEO Ed Bastian responded to a recent letter he received from U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. Here is the text of Bastian's letter:

Dear Senator Sanders:

Thank you for your letter.  I'm responding to clear up misperceptions you have heard regarding Delta, our people and our values-driven culture that has been at the heart of our business for nearly 100 years.  Delta is the most successful airline on the globe because of our people, and taking care of them is my No. 1 job.  We take great pride in the fact that they are the best-performing, best-compensated aviation professionals in our industry. 

I agree that the communication recently cited by the IAM – a year-old flyer that was in our breakrooms and removed after a week – was poorly crafted and not an appropriate communication to our people.  That's not who we are, and we have taken steps to make sure future messages to our people regarding their choices on representation are always meaningful and respectful of their rights.

That said, facts matter.  Delta is and always will be pro-people.  That commitment shows in our track record:

  • Total annual compensation for our people, 80,000 strong, has increased by 80 percent since 2008.  I'm unaware of any company our size that can make a similar statement.  We've given 10 pay increases over the past 10 years.
  • In the past 5 years, our employees have seen their base pay increase by more than 30 percent on average.
  • Delta provides strong, middle-class jobs.  Your tweet that ramp agents earn $9 per hour is simply wrong – starting salaries are nearly double that rate.  And at the top of scale, after 12 years of service, our airport agents and flight attendants earn $74,000 and mechanics earn $121,000 annually.  Across the board, these are the best-rewarded airline employees in the world.  Rightfully so.
  • We have the best profit-sharing plan in our industry and likely throughout America.  Effectively 15 percent of the profits of our company go to employees, in addition to their salary.  We paid $1.3 billion in profit-sharing last February – our 5th year in a row with payouts in excess of $1 billion.  No other company in this country can make that claim.
  • Our industry-leading 401(k) plan offers up to a 9 percent contribution from Delta, including a 3 percent company investment and, on top of that, a 6 percent dollar-for-dollar match when the plan member contributes 6 percent.
  • When Delta faced bankruptcy a decade ago, we were the only airline that fought to retain our people's pension plans.  It required an act of Congress, including a unanimous vote by the U.S. Senate, to approve a rule change that preserved the accrued benefits our people had earned.  We have funded $7 billion into our plans over the past 5 years.
  • Delta is hiring more than 5,000 team members every year.  We receive hundreds of thousands of applications from people wanting to join our family, because we are known as the airline of choice that takes the best care of its people.
  • Our people, who have many career options, choose to invest their time with us.  Our average attrition rate is below 5 percent, significantly under the national average, and average seniority is 16 years.

I'm proud that Delta has consistently been named a "Great Place to Work" in recent years by organizations like Fortune, Glassdoor and Indeed.  We also have been named by Fortune among the best workplaces for diversity and women.

I am honored and humbled to lead this team of 80,000 of the world's greatest aviation professionals.  They show every day their commitment to each other, to our customers and our communities, and that's why Delta puts them at the heart of every decision we make.



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