Agents Fight Back, Union Election to be Scheduled

Passenger service agents at American Airlines were hit with a devastating reorganization plan yesterday that will affect nearly 10,000 agents. Agents face layoffs, outsourcing, the loss of wages and benefits, being forced to work from home for no benefits, and likely even more cuts in the future as they are the only major workgroup at the airline without union representation.

But now agents will have the opportunity to get that union voice. The National Mediation Board has determined that American Airlines agents are entitled to a representation election; dates for the voting process are still to be set. CWA has been working with agents who want a union voice and had filed for an election last December.

"Once again we are being told what will happen to us and we are given no voice in the process," said Bryan Wall, a Sacramento-based agent. "Other employees have options because they are represented by unions and will negotiate. We don't know where or when this will end, but we will fight back through our Ad Hoc Committee and our union after we win the election. It's time for us to demand the respect we deserve."

"I work at one of the stations targeted for outsourcing. I am personally worried about my health insurance," said Jutta Fitzgerald, a Columbus, Ohio based agent. "I see what is being done to the employees and I believe this is why we need a strong union. I have never seen a company treat its employees how American Airlines treats us. The agents need to go union, now more than ever."

American Airlines filed for bankruptcy protections last year, despite having $4 billion in the bank. CWA was successful in winning recognition for the agents' Ad Hoc committee by the federal judge overseeing the bankruptcy.

Activists are organizing and fighting back, and the next opportunity to make a stand is the April 25 bankruptcy court hearing in New York City. "This is our chance to be represented alongside the high-priced attorneys, consultants and investment advisors, and we encourage everyone to come out," agents said.

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