Delta fires employee who called for higher minimum wage

A longtime labor activist at Delta has been fired after he pushed for a $15 minimum wage at the airline, the Pioneer Press reports.

Kip Hedges was fired after giving an interview to Workday Minnesota in October. Hedges is a baggage handler at the airport.

Hedges said the Delta managers told him his remarks violated the airline’s Advocacy Policy, which prohibits ‘untrue or disparaging’ public comments about the company, Workday Minnesota said.

“Delta regrets any instance where a longtime employee is terminated,” Morgan Durrant, a spokesman for the airline, said. “However, Delta requires all employees to meet company performance and conduct standards. This includes upholding our core values of respect and honesty in any communications regarding Delta.

“Delta invites healthy, constructive discussion across all areas of its business. We apply our policies consistently and in a non-discriminatory manner, based on an individual’s conduct and record of job performance, without regard to anyone’s personal views.”

Airport workers are planning a protest at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport later today.

  • Robert Moffitt

    Um, have I mentioned lately what a great organization the American Lung Association in Minnesota is?

  • Rich in Duluth

    There seems to be a rash of similar incidents being reported. Again, we have freedom of speech, not freedom from the consequences of our speech.

    • I don’t think anyone is dwelling on the constitutional issue as much as claiming that it shows just how much a company that makes over $100 million in profit per month and pays its CEO $12.6 million per year doesn’t want to pay baggage handlers $15 an hour.

      • Rich in Duluth

        Okay, but all of us have to find that balance between our right to free speech and the consequences of what we say publically, especially, when that speech may affect our employment, which is so important to our lives. Businesses exist to make profits for their share holders and upper management, not to be fair to employees or to even provide a quality service to their customers.

        So, Mr. Hedges took a known risk when he spoke out and is taking the consequences. I hope it was worth it to him and I hope he can find another job.

        • JQP

          so what is your thought on $15/hour for handling baggage ? or will you lose your job for speaking out?

          • Rich in Duluth

            Personally, I think there should be a Federal law specifying a living wage, especially at big companies, that keeps up with inflation. And if that has an effect on bottom lines or the cost of things, so be it.

            My point is that jobs, no matter what they pay, are important to each of us and speaking out about/against your employer is a risk. Okay, that’s an obvious point. Employers hold all the power over employees, other than whatever regulations exist or whatever power a union has.

  • Dave

    Is that the interview for which he was fired? Because I didn’t hear anything disparaging.

    • Mary

      Yes, this is the interview.

    • BJ

      disparaging/ untrue, or untrue enough, maybe?

    • vanishplusxzone

      “Disparaging” in corporate speak means “anything that makes us look bad, regardless of the truth of the matter.”

  • The difference between having a union and not having a union.

  • JQP

    ” This includes upholding our core values of respect and honesty in any communications regarding Delta. ”
    Well , better fire the executive level in the corp… because they’ve lied to congress and in advertizing to the public ( which they approved and authorized)

  • kevinfromminneapolis

    There’s nothing disparaging about Delta in his comments.

    But we all have the option to not talk about our employer in public, too. That’s usually the best one to take.

    • Airlines have gotten pretty good at busting unions. It’s not real surprising that — absent collective protection — they got a guy who’s unprotected.

  • mspbaggagehandler

    The airline is moving towards an non-benefited, part time staffing model for those who work above and below wing. These part time employees are paid a maximum of $12 / hour, while their full time counterparts are paid up to a maximum of about $23 / hour (after 10 1/2 years being full time). If a part time employee gains full time status, they take a pay cut and start on the full time pay scale at about $11 / hour, regardless of years served. Lastly, the airline owns a ground handling subsidiary, which provides above and below wing services for its regional flights. Those employees are paid $8 to $9 per hour.

  • Jack

    It wouldn’t be the first time someone sued Delta.and won.

  • Scott Weinberg

    That’s ridiculous!!! There is no reason to be fired from his job. Get his job back now!!!

  • bryan mckenzie

    Delta does whatever it wants to. I would bet that this comments section is being monitored by Delta with the hope that they find something “disparaging” posted by a current employee.