Working People Flying the Unfriendly Skies Aboard Delta

by Cynthia McCabe  |  October 12, 2012

Sky Magazine
This month’s issue of Delta Airlines Sky magazine features a glowing profile of union-bashing, anti-worker Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Call it the mainstreaming of union bashing. This month’s Delta Airlines inflight magazine features a profile on Wisconsin’s new supposed business-friendly atmosphere, lavishing attention on the role of “fiscally conservative governor” Scott Walker in making it happen.

On pages typically reserved for the Top 10 Cheesesteaks in Philly or America’s Can’t-Miss Golf Courses, the airline touts Walker’s role in “letting the world know (the state) means business.” The Sky piece, titled “Good Company,” opens by dismissing the worker uprising of 2011, saying, that if readers’ knowledge of Wisconsin is limited to “news reports about union rights…you really haven’t been paying attention.”

Actually we have been paying attention. Walker’s attacks on collective bargaining, workers’ rights and the working middle class – all at the behest of the billionaire Koch brothers and right-wing allies – touched off months of protest across the state. Those protests rippled out across the nation, as workers, labor unions, community allies and others refused to be silenced by similar attacks from right-wing politicians.

So why would a publication as mainstream as an airline magazine, with customers paying for a ride not politics, lionize a polarizing, toxic figure such as Walker? Well Delta Airlines isn’t exactly known for its worker-friendly approach to doing business. In fact progressive blog Crooks & Liars last year called them “Scott Walker in the Sky Airlines.” The airline invests heavily in right-wing lawmakers – $1.6 million in the first half of last year alone – as it works to overturn legislation that helps workers organize into unions.

“An article on a politician at all in an airline publication is disturbing, especially someone like Scott Walker, whose extreme policies drove people to mass demonstration,” said Erin Johansson of American Rights at Work/Jobs with Justice. “I’m amazed that a kind of non-partisan vanilla publication like an airline in-flight magazine would do this.”

The reach of the magazine shouldn’t be underestimated. By industry estimates, 80 percent of all passengers read the publications and they spend an average of 30 minutes with an issue. 

But you’ll forgive us if we’re not interested in Walker’s favorite BBQ joint or the fact that he’s most likely to be “hitting the state roads on his 2003 Harley-Davidson Road King.” We’d prefer he’d be focused on the working people of his state – including the ones who maintain those roads he likes to cruise on – who deserve collective bargaining and the right to join a union. You can share your thoughts with Sky here.

Next: Meet the New Mitt. Same As the Old Mitt.
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