The CWA News | ‘I Know How It Feels to Be Powerless’

Volume 71, Issue #3 | Fall 2011

Building a Union at American Airlines

Vickey HootsUS Airways’ reservations agent Vickey Hoots remembers just how tough her fight for a union was at US Airways. That’s why she spends most of her time helping organize the 9,300 agents at American Airlines.

Hoots: “I know how it feels to be powerless at an airline. We felt awfully alone until we organized in 1999 and bargained our first contract. Now, we’re bargaining a new contract and I realize how much worse off we’d be if we’d never won the right to bargain with management. This is the message I take to American Airlines’ agents.”

Hoots, a member of CWA Local 3640 in Winston-Salem, talks with as many as 200 agents every month about the issues they have in common as customer service agents. She regularly visits agents at American’s call center in Cary, N.C., joins in phone banking to build support and makes home

visits to agents who have signed interest cards.

Hoots: “As CWA members, it benefits us to connect with unrepresented workers who are in the same jobs or industry. When agents at American organize and bargain their first contract, US Airways’ management won’t able to use poor working conditions at American as leverage to drive down our pay and benefits.”

CWA activists like Hoots have helped Lynda Franka, an American reservations agent in Tucson, maintain her spirit, energy, and hope for winning CWA representation.

Lynda FrankaFranka: “It keeps us going, having CWA members who care and give us support. Management is now posting supervisors to sit in our break rooms all the time. It really discourages agents from talking with each other. CWA activists help us reach out and network with agents all across the country, something that is crucial to our building majority support.”

“I love being at American and the engagement I have with customers and with my supervisors. We could make it so much better if we had CWA representation. “That’s why I am still involved,” Franka said.

Roscivia Jones-Smith, a member of CWA Local 6215, starts an evening shift as an American reservations agent after a full day’s work at AT&T in Dallas. She tells other agents what CWA has meant for her. “The union will back you up. At American, if we get a bad score, even if it’s unfair, American can fire you and there’s nothing you can do about. If they tried that at AT&T, CWA would step in and fight for me.”

Agents at American Airlines are looking for help from other home-based agents who belong to CWA or who are CWA retirees. Contact the organizing campaign at cwa4aa@sbcglobal.net or by telephone at (817) 868-9933.