Joining Together, We Gain Legal Rights
In a tough economy like this, we need to stand together to protect our jobs, our pay and benefits at American Airlines. With representation by the Communications Workers of America, we have a seat at the table with the company. We can bargain for what’s best for us, for our future.
CWA represents nearly a million communications workers, and they understand our industry and our profession. For example, CWA represents the Customer Service Agents at US Airways and helped those employees fight off deep cuts sought by the company over the years.
Before they gained representation at US Airways, the passenger service group was easy pickings for the company, which didn’t have to negotiate to cut Agents’ pay and benefits. In 1991, US Airways management froze the Agents’ defined benefit pension plan when the airline bought Piedmont and wanted to cut costs.
The Agents organized with CWA in 1999 and immediately negotiated increases to their defined contribution plan (401K) in their first contract. Without a contract, our pensions at American Airlines remain unprotected except for what is provided under federal law.
At US Airways, with CWA representation, the agents bargained to help save their bankrupt company. The Union negotiated benefit reductions and pay cuts of $5 an hour, with an agreement that these concessions would “snap-back” when times got better. At the end of this year, paid sick days go back to 12, holidays go back to 10 and employees get pay improvements based on shift/position differentials and customer contract premiums.
CWA also negotiated a US Airways Work-from-Home agent program. Having a Union contract made a difference because the Agents were able to negotiate the same benefits (health care, paid days off, shift differentials) as the office-based workers. The company will also pay for their home Internet service.
With CWA representation, we would get to decide what we want in a contract. Before bargaining, the union surveys members to ask them what is important to them. Everyone’s voice is heard, and that’s something that doesn’t happen now without representation.
As we head into a merger with US Airways, American Airlines, the passenger service and reservations agents are at a disadvantage — the only group not represented, and thus the most vulnerable. The pilots, flight attendants, mechanics and ramp workers have legal protections through their unions. We need the same legal protections.