Longtime IAM Delta employee, labor activist Kip Hedges fired at Twin Cities

Longtime IAM Delta employee, labor activist Kip Hedges fired at Twin Cities
Pioneer Press

POSTED: 12/04/2014 12:01:00 AM CST | UPDATED: A DAY AGO

Kip Hedges (Pioneer Press 2003 file photo)

A longtime Delta Air Lines employee and Twin Cities labor activist, Kip Hedges, was fired this week from his job as a baggage handler after championing a $15 minimum wage for airline workers.

According to multiple postings on social media, Hedges gave an on-camera interview to Workday Minnesota, where he said, "A lot of the Delta workers make under $15 an hour. As a matter of fact, I would say probably close to half make under $15 an hour."

Delta officials told Hedges he was being fired for "disparaging remarks," according to an account on Workday Minnesota. It's unclear how many Delta baggage-claim workers make less than $15 an hour, but some do, while others earn significantly more.

After a reporter inquired about the matter, Delta said Thursday in a statement, "Delta regrets any instance where a longtime employee is terminated. However, Delta requires all employees to meet company performance and conduct standards. This includes upholding our core values of respect and honesty in any communications regarding Delta."

The airline's statement continued, "Delta invites healthy, constructive discussion across all areas of its business. We apply our policies consistently and in a nondiscriminatory manner, based on an individual's conduct and record of job performance, without regard to anyone's personal views."

Hedges, a 26-year Delta (and Northwest Airlines) employee, has long been an outspoken voice on equity and labor-management issues.

He has been prominent in the Twin Cities local of the International Association of Machinists. In response to his firing, supporters have started an online petition drive.
Meanwhile, airport workers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport have scheduled a protest for noon on Friday, calling for pay of $15 an hour and union representation.