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Economics in Brief: Delta Announces Plans to Pay Attendants During Boarding

Also, nonprofits hand out free Fentanyl tests in bars, and California keeps pandemic workplace benefits

(Photo by Suhyeon Choi on Unsplash)

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All Aboard? Delta Announces It Will Pay Attendants During Boarding Amid Unionization Pressure

Did you know that flight attendants start getting paid only after boarding is completed and the doors have closed? This is about to change: Delta, the only major American airline whose flight attendants are not unionized, will start paying their flight attendants during boarding, the corporation announced in a memo.

CNBC reports that this a first for a major U.S. airline, as all other airlines pay flight attendants when all the passengers are seated and the plane’s doors close.

Efforts to unionize have picked up since the early days of the pandemic when the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) asked for a boost in wages due to the increased stress workers faced.

Delta currently employs over 20,000 flight attendants, many of which are organizing for better protections. “As we get closer to filing for our union vote, management is getting nervous,” Delta AFA said in an online statement. “This also shows that Delta could have been paying Flight Attendants for boarding all along. And while this is a positive change, Flight Attendants are still being forced to fly more often thanks to short staffing.”

From June 2 onward, workers will be compensated with half of their hourly wage during boarding.

Nonprofits Hand Out Free Fentanyl Tests in Bars

In an attempt to combat the opioid crisis, bars across the country have begun to provide fentanyl tests, Reuters reports.

The initiative is being spearheaded by local leaders like Dean Shold and Alison Heller, co-founders of the nonprofit Fentcheck, who work to provide businesses with fentanyl tests in cities such as Oakland, San Francisco, New York and Philadelphia.

For instance, Heller places free testing strips in the bathrooms of the Good Hop craft beer bar in Oakland, California, for anyone to take, while bar owner Melissa Myers has also trained her staff to use naloxone, a medication that can reverse opioid’s adverse effects.

“We’re done with dead kids.” Heller told Reuters. “They cannot make it to rehab, they cannot make it to the next step in their sobriety if they die that night.”

Over the last two decades, nearly 500,000 people have died due to opioid overdose. Families Against Fentanyl quoted data from the CDC, which showed that fentanyl overdose is now the top cause of death for adults between 18-45.

“We fought to stay alive through COVID and I want them to be able to keep coming here, not die on the street or die at home because they’ve decided to try some new drugs,” bar owner Melissa Myers said to Reuters.

While people on the ground are working to eradicate the crisis through testing, fentanyl strips are increasingly effective at averting overdose. But organizers are facing resistance from the government. While legislators are working to increase the usage of these tests, strips are currently criminalized in states like Alabama and Florida.

“If you actually care about your constituents and if you actually look at the data that your health departments are throwing out there and you care one iota, grow up,” said Jason Lujick, a local business owner who provides the strips, to Reuters.

California to Keep Pandemic Workplace Benefits

California workplace regulators extended mandatory pay for employees that have been affected by Covid-19, according to the Associated Press.

Workers will be able to reap benefits through the end of 2022 as the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board renewed safety rules that were originally set to expire in May.

Board chairman David Thomas expressed doubts that the end of the pandemic was near, stating that current worker protections were set in place to ensure protection during this season of uncertainty. Their decision comes as federal agencies and judges eased or eliminated mask mandates across the country.

Delta, United and Southwest are just some of the airlines that have made masks optional after U.S. District Judge Kathryn Mizelle ruled against the mandatory mask mandate for travelers, saying the Center for Disease Control (CDC) did not have the jurisdiction to impose the mandate.

NBC reports that the Department of Justice has since moved to appeal the decision.

Regardless, workers in California maintain that current workplace provisions remain necessary for the health of all employees. Covid-19 is still increasingly transmissible, as cases in California are up by one-third, and hospitals predict hospitalizations will increase in the upcoming month.

This article is part of The Bottom Line, a series exploring scalable solutions for problems related to affordability, inclusive economic growth and access to capital. Click here to subscribe to our Bottom Line newsletter.

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Solcyre (Sol) Burga was an Emma Bowen Foundation Fellow with Next City for summer 2021. Burga graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in political science and journalism in May of 2022. As a Newark native and immigrant, she hopes to elevate the voices of underrepresented communities in her work.

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Tags: californiaunionspandemic reliefopioid crisisdelta

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