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Delta to begin paying flight attendants during boarding as union push gains traction

In a first for any major U.S. airline, Delta Air Lines will soon begin paying its flight attendants during boarding, CNBC reports Tuesday.

The decision arrives alongside a unionization push among Delta's biggest work group — its more than 20,000 flight attendants are not unionized, unlike those at other major carriers — as well a broader workers' rights movement nationwide. For example, employees at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island recently voted to form the company's first union. At least 16 Starbucks stores have moved to do the same.

Delta plans to begin the boarding pay on June 2, CNBC reports per a company memo. Flight attendants will be paid half their hourly rates during this time, then will presumably receive their full rate once the boarding doors close.

The airline is also increasing boarding time for narrow-body flights from 35 minutes to 40.

The changes come as a unionization campaign led by the Association of Flight Attendants once again gains momentum, CNBC reports. "As we get closer to filing for our union vote, management is getting nervous," the AFA said in a statement. "In this case, they also know that changing domestic boarding time from 35 to 40 minutes without adding a benefit would create an uproar — just as the 'test' in Atlanta did back in October."

The AFA is the largest flight attendant union in the U.S., representing cabin crews at carriers like United, Spirit, Alaska, and Frontier, per CNBC.