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For the third consecutive year, Delta Air Lines has increased wages for its nonunion ground workers and flight attendants, including more than 5,000 of its Minnesota employees.

In a memo to employees obtained by the Star Tribune, Delta CEO Ed Bastian said the company is raising wages 5% for those eligible workers, and is increasing the minimum starting rate for all U.S. positions to $19 per hour, a $5,000 annual salary increase from a year ago.

The salary increase takes effect June 1. Delta employs more than 80,000 nonunion people globally.

About 20% of the Atlanta-based airline's workers are represented by unions — by far the lowest percentage among the nation's four biggest airlines, according to the Associated Press. Delta pilots are represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, but cabin crews, maintenance workers and others are nonunion.

Delta has a history of anti-union sentiment that was challenged when it merged with Twin Cities-based Northwest Airlines in 2008. At the time, the different work groups voted for or against unionization. The only Delta groups unionized today are its pilots and dispatchers.

The Association of Flight Attendants has been trying to change that since 2019 when it began a unionization effort among the Delta flight attendant group. Union president Sara Nelson told the Associated Press she hopes to gather enough authorization cards to trigger another election at Delta by the end of the year.

Bastian said that when including this raise, the carrier — the most dominant at Minneapolis-St. Paul International — has made cumulative investments "of 20-25% in each of the company's largest frontline workgroups" since 2022.

"Delta's leading position comes thanks to a simple concept that dates back nearly a century — invest in our people first, and they will deliver great service and experiences for our customers. That's exactly what you do, and it always sets us apart," Bastian wrote in the memo.

Delta gave employees $1.4 billion in profit-sharing for 2023, of which $124 million went to employees in Minnesota in February, according to the airline. The base pay increase and $19 per hour minimum starting rate represents a near $500 million investment on an annualized basis, the airline stated.

For its 2024 first quarter, Delta reported revenue of $13.7 billion, an 8% increase compared to the year-ago quarter, and a $37 million profit, the airlines' largest first-quarter profit since before the pandemic, Bastian said.

"The year is off to a strong start, and already you have achieved significant accomplishments as we move toward the summer travel season," Bastian wrote.