Updated: 2:57 p.m. | Posted: 10:49 a.m.
Delta Air Lines has agreed to preserve most flight benefits for some 19,000 employees of a subsidiary that provides baggage handling, ticket counter and other services for airlines.
The workers' travel benefits at DGS — Delta Global Services — had been targeted for cutbacks with the airline's sale of a majority interest in the firm to Argenbright Holdings.
The change would have dropped employees' travel benefits to the lowest priority level and would have required them to pay income tax on the dollar value of their fare.
That prompted talks about walk-outs and sick-outs because the jobs pay relatively low wages but employees value the travel privileges.
Delta has now agreed to continue existing travel privileges for current employees "many years to come." That includes travel by retirees. But after the transaction closes, which is expected at the end of this month, new hires will receive only the lesser travel benefits.
For all, the tax requirement will remain in place because of the ownership change.
An online petition calling on Delta to reconsider cuts in travel benefits received more than 6,600 signatures. N. Mather Zickler, a DGS employee in Wisconsin started the petition.
"I'm thrilled that Delta has reconsidered and is allowing current DGS employees to keep their flight benefits, "she said. "A few details are still being worked out but I'm hopeful that we'll have final resolution soon."