Delta jet readies for take-off
Delta jet readies for take-off - 
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Lisa Napoli: Hearings are slated for this week on the proposed Delta/Northwest merger. But today, Delta's flight attendants start voting on whether to unionize. Fewer than 20 percent of Delta's staff are union members, compared to about 80 percent of Northwest's. Ashley Milne-Tyte looks at whether a more unionized work force might make any difference to the success of the proposed merger.

Ashley Milne-Tyte: Northwest unions have already come out against the merger. Richard Gritta teaches finance and transportation at the University of Portland. He says Northwest and Delta have already agreed to merge. So, a few more unionized employees won't make a difference.

Richard Gritta: They can't prevent the merger, unless Justice steps in. But what they can do is create a nightmare once the merger is consummated.

Such as, he says, disrupting the airline's computer systems, which happened at United several years ago. He says unionized or not, employee frustration is simmering.

Gritta: I have never seen in my career labor relations as bad as what you see in the U.S. airline industry.

No surprise, he says. Airline bosses receive big financial incentives to make their struggling businesses profitable. Meanwhile the rank and file are forced to give up pay and benefits.

I'm Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.