Delta's Anti-Union Propaganda Came From PR Shop Busted for Posing as Journalists for ExxonMobil

The firm, FTI Consulting, has produced astroturf campaigns for some of the world’s biggest polluters including Exxon, BP, and Halliburton.

Delta's Anti-Union Propaganda Came From PR Shop Busted for Posing as Journalists for ExxonMobil
A worker checks luggage in the Delta baggage claim at O'Hare International Airport on October 24, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois.

Delta Air Lines is trying to convince its workers not to form a union by arguing that they would be better off spending their money on video games than union dues.

A tweet posted on Thursday by journalist Eoin Higgins shows Delta’s anti-union poster. “Union dues cost around $700 a year,” the poster reads. “A new video game system with the latest hits sounds like fun. Put your money towards that rather than paying dues to the union.”

The poster has been roundly slammed on Twitter as being tone deaf and out of touch.

So what would have inspired Delta to create such a poster?

The poster advertises a website,, and according to a search of the IP address of the server that hosts the site, it appears that Delta’s anti-union campaign is being managed by FTI Consulting, a D.C. firm that specializes in devising and executing astroturf campaigns for companies in numerous industries, including fossil fuel giants like ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, and Halliburton.

Delta’s anti-union website shares a server with FTI Consulting’s own website, as well as several websites with well-documented ties to the company, including Energy in Depth, a site that claims to be a project of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, a trade association representing small oil and gas companies. However, it was funded with major investments from giant oil and gas companies like BP and Halliburton and is populated with content produced by FTI Consulting employees.

FTI employees don’t just create websites and messaging. They also work as undercover agents for some of their clients.

Earlier this year, FTI employees posed as journalists for Western Wire—another website that shares a server with Delta’s anti-union site—and attempted to question attorneys working with environmental nonprofit EarthRights International about its lawsuit against ExxonMobil. Legal ethics prohibit attorneys from speaking with representatives for opposing parties without their attorneys being present, so the attempt by FTI to question the EarthRights International attorneys under the guise of journalism can easily be seen as an attempt to circumvent legal ethics to gather intel for their client, ExxonMobil.

Some Delta employees and the International Association of Machinists have been trying to form a union at Delta for years. According to the organizers’ website, Delta workers would benefit from forming a union by receiving industry-leading wages, full benefits for all ramp, cargo, and tower employees, a defined-benefit pension plan, affordable medical insurance, and more.

In 2017, Delta CEO Ed Bastian received roughly $13.2 million in compensation, more than any other U.S. airline executive.

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