Leaking video suggests diagnoses of ill Delta Hid pilots among exposed flight crews

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A Delta Air Lines executive has ordered pilots who test positive for coronavirus to refuse diagnosis to flight attendants and other colleagues, according to a video of an internal discussion between leaders of the pilots’ union.

in the nine minute video, which appears to have been secretly recorded and posted on YouTube on Thursday, a union representative told other leaders that one of Delta’s chief pilots, who are also high-level regional officials of the company, told captains Aviation: “It is not your job to tell people that you have been infected. The workers HuffPost spoke to interpreted it as an attempt to restrict who discovered it.

“This is one of the reasons the company said to people,” Hey, don’t tell the flight attendants that you were sick, “or anything like that,” said the rep, who appears be Brandon Conwill, chairman of the Delta section of the Air Line Pilots Association, or ALPA.

Delta declined to name the chief pilot or to confirm whether he would investigate the remarks. A spokesperson said, “We are aware of the video and the discussion in it and are watching – our first reading is that it does not correspond to our [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]informed notification. “

But on Friday, the company sent updated guidelines to pilots to notify employees when a co-worker tests positive for the virus.

In a memo obtained by HuffPost, the Atlanta-based carrier stated that “officers will identify and advise” all employees “who have come into prolonged close contact” with any pilot or worker who “has symptoms or a diagnosis of COVID-19 “, the disease. caused by the coronavirus, “48 hours before the onset of symptoms of the sick employee”.

Jamie Squire via Getty Images

Planes belonging to Delta Air Lines are inactive at Kansas City International Airport on Friday.

As part of the policy change, the company now considers “prolonged close contact” to mean “within 6 feet for 10 continuous minutes”, from 10 to 30 minutes. It also widens the scope of potentially exposed workers compared to those in contact with the sick employee the day symptoms started two days before.

“In some cases, depending on the clinical investigation, Delta may notify employees of the need to self-quarantine,” said Morgan Durrant, spokesperson for Delta, by email.

The release of the recording caused panic among flight attendants and other crew members – none of whom, other than some unionized regulators and pilots – from the world’s most revenue-generating airline. The incident added a new layer of turmoil to an industry in chaos as the death toll in the United States following the pandemic increases and analysts warn that the record rescue of $ 50 billion approved by Congress for airlines will not be enough to prevent mass layoffs.

Flight attendants were already taking unpaid leave to reduce their exposure to the pandemic, according to a worker who spoke to HuffPost on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal from the company. In the absence of clear information from management on those who tested positive on which flights, some workers had reserved hotel rooms at their own expense to avoid potentially infecting family members.

National representatives to ALPA on Tuesday sent a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration to complain that some carriers were not following CDC guidelines to notify employees if they had been exposed to the new coronavirus, Bloomberg reported.

On Friday, the number of Delta pilots tested positive for COVID-19 rose to 48, the union said on its website, against 32 the day before. In the video, union executive chairman Ryan Schnitzler said that “several other” pilots were showing symptoms but had not been tested.

“We think the number is quite large, but we just don’t have the data,” he said. “Society is hiding it. ”

Schnitzler did not respond to an email requesting comment.

It’s a sad, sad situation that flight attendants and other Delta employees – ground workers, ticket agents, ramp services and mechanics – don’t know if they can trust the company now.James Carlson, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers

Thursday evening Julianna Helminski, a stewardess trying to organize a union with her colleagues, asked First Vice-President of Delta Allison Ausband said if management plans to notify flight crews who have come in contact with sick pilots of the diagnoses and to investigate orders given by the chief pilot, according to an email exchange reviewed by HuffPost.

“It’s a sad, sad situation that flight attendants and other Delta employees – ground workers, ticket agents, ramp services and mechanics – don’t know if they can trust the “business now,” said James Carlson, assistant airline coordinator for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the union with which Delta flight attendants seek representation.

He echoed calls for an investigation into the chief pilot and said the withholding of information about the exhibit was “reprehensible”. Carlson said the Delta union had spent much of the past year try to cancel would provide a means of reporting to workers.

“This is a perfect example of what can happen when you run out of a union,” he said.

“In each of our carriers where we have unionized workers … We work hand in hand with the company and that is what comes with union representation and a voice at the table,” he added. “You are included in all of these decisions. You have an agency. None of this happens at Delta. ”

Early Friday evening, flight attendants told HuffPost that the new directives sent to the pilots had not yet been released through official channels to other employees.

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