Earlier last week, hundreds of CWA members from the Telecommunications and Technologies (T&T) sector joined with passenger service agents to protest poverty-level wages at American Airlines.
At the rally, held at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, Ariz., agents and allies called on American’s wholly-owned subsidiary airlines, Piedmont and Envoy, to negotiate fair contracts and end the pay gap between regional airlines and mainline carriers.
“We’re taking action in solidarity with our fellow CWA members at Piedmont Airlines and Envoy Air,” said T&T Vice President Lisa Bolton. “Workers at Piedmont and Envoy make lower wages and have fewer benefits than their co-workers at American, even though they all work for the same employer. This situation is unfair, and it’s unsafe. Low wages and poor benefits mean workers often work more than 60 hours a week and many rely on food stamps and other public assistance just to survive. Every frontline employee at American deserves a fair wage and good benefits.”
Jamie Lynn McClay, a Ramp/Operation Agent for Piedmont since 2013, explained what’s at stake. “We are serious about getting livable wages, better health care for all of our agents, and better treatment at all stations in our company. We want the rest of the negotiations to go smoothly, but Piedmont has to understand that we will not just take any offer placed on the table. We have to have the company understand it has to be fair and equal.”
The T&T members were in Phoenix for the 2017 Telecommunications and Technologies Leadership Conference. District 3 Vice President Richard Honeycutt, who is also chair of CWA’s Airlines Council, District 7 Vice President Brenda Roberts, and District 4 Vice President Linda Hinton also rallied with the agents.
The event received extensive media coverage from local news outlets including the Arizona Republic, KSAZ FOX 10 News, and public radio station KJZZ. The airline industry site Aviation Pros also covered the protest.
Recently, American Airlines announced a one-time bonus for employees after the passage of the tax bill, but it hasn’t budged on the real issue – permanent, sustainable worker wages.
CWA represents 4,600 Piedmont agents nationwide, 3,800 agents at Envoy, and 14,000 passenger service agents at American Airlines. Bargaining at Piedmont and Envoy resumes this month.