Delta recently reached out to Atlanta employees, including pilots and flight attendants, asking them to come into the airport on their own time to help clean up Delta’s Sky Club lounges.
Pathetic Or Reasonable? Delta Asks Employees To “Volunteer” To Clean Lounges In Atlanta
Here’s what Delta wrote to employees:
We Need Volunteers for our ATL Sky Club Experience!!!
We are severely understaffed in the ATL Sky Club due to lack of contractor support (i.e. we are currently short 115 people) which puts our Sky Clubs at risk from a customer satisfaction standpoint.
We are asking for any Delta employee in the ATL area who can help support. Just come to the ATL airport for a few hours to help with cleaning, wiping tables, running food, restocking food buffets, etc. You can wear business casual wear (black slacks and a white shirt) and we will provide aprons. You will be able to pick up gate passes to get past the airport security to get to the ATL Sky Lounge.
There are needs at all times; however there is a limit to three days per person each month. Ideally, we’d be working each week to fill volunteer slots for the following week.
I love how Delta says you “can” wear “business casual” (specifically defined as black slacks and a white shirt, just like all the other SkyClub workers) and it will provide aprons.
People are of different minds as to the root of the problem. Some blame unemployment benefits. Lounge contractors are not paid very much. During the early stages pandemic, with the current raft of generous federal + state benefits, it did not make financial sense to work when you could stay home and chill due to “concern” over the virus. Even with a pay cut, that means no child care, no transportation costs, lower laundry bills, etc.
Per Glassdoor, the average wage for a SkyClub “Ambassador” employed by SodexoMAGIC is $33,905, which works out to about $16.30/hour. That’s still more than what most low-wage workers make from unemployment, but unemployment also leads to support in other areas like healthcare, groceries, and potentially even housing.
Others insist unemployment does not explain the issue. Delta (via its contractors) did lay off a huge number of airport support staff at the start of the pandemic. In many cases, those workers have found better work elsewhere and have no desire to come back. While Amazon, for example, is hiring with decent wage and benefits, Delta is simply not paying enough.
Whatever the root cause, it appears Delta can continue to recruit employee volunteers or simply pay more to find full-time staff. I realize the economics of offering generous wages to low-skill workers does not always work. But unless this is purely people milking the system and their benefits are shortly reduced (and I’ve seen no evidence to back this up, just theories), Delta is going to have to pay its workers a bit more.
And of course it can afford it…never forget how much Delta picked the pockets of U.S. taxpayers during the pandemic. Remember that Delta just bought iPhone 12s for every flight attendant. I mention that not to heap scorn on Delta but to question its inability to find staff.
In the meantime, however, asking employees to pitch in is hardly unique. Think about how Delta provided extremely generous profit-sharing plans to employees and how it avoided involuntary furloughs during the pandemic (prior to payroll support kicking in).
Asking employees to step in and help may smack of desperation, but I don’t think it is anything to be ashamed of. Desperate times calls for desperate measures…
Delta has asked employees to step up and volunteer cleaning up SkyClubs in Atlanta. It’s a desperate gesture, but also a reasonable one under the circumstances (Delta truly is short-staffed right now). Long-term, however, relying on unpaid volunteers is dangerous and Delta is probably going to have pay a bit more to hire and retain quality staff.