Workers from Sun Country airlines are exposing what union-busting and retaliation looks like in practice.
Sun Country Airlines, based out of Minneapolis, MN, is an ultra-low-cost passenger and cargo airline and the 11th largest in the United States. In 2022, the airline’s mechanics voted to unionize with the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) and were soon followed by the ramp agents who manage the “grunt work of the Tarmac.” Ramp agents transfer cargo, direct taxiing aircraft, deice planes, refuel, and maintain safety in all kinds of outdoor weather conditions. At Sun Country airlines, they do all this despite OSHA violations, long hours, inadequate pay, understaffing, and a lack of benefits.
After workers started discussing organizing, Management hired a team of lawyers who specialize in persuading workers against joining a union, often using disinformation tactics, veiled threats and intimidation. It’s a widespread practice across the United States. Undercover footage that workers captured shows managers and hired lawyers fear-mongering about the union and ostracizing organizers. Pro-union employees say that management divided workers—and after ramp agents officially voted to form a union with the Teamsters in January 2023, the airline fired its most outspoken union organizers. The Teamsters stepped in to help two of their lead organizers, Monique Crisp and Sylvester “Sly” Oliver, find other employment in the meantime, but it’s a temporary fix until they’re entitled backpay.
These workers revealed a union-busting playbook that corporations use on workers across the country, one based on fear and intimidation. We can fight back.
Filmmaker Jimmy Day is producing a documentary film about union-busting, Busted, and he wants to hear from you. If you’re organizing or have experienced union-busting in your workplace, reach out at [email protected].