Nov 21, 2012
Sixteen former and current American Airlines passenger service agents lobby Senate offices.
Below: Agents and their supporters rally outside American Airlines Washington office.
American Airlines passenger service agents aren't backing down.
On Friday, 16 former and current employees — including some who were even facing layoffs at the close of business — visited U.S. Senate offices to raise awareness about American Airlines' dirty campaign to delay their right to vote in a union election. Then the agents and CWA supporters rallied outside American Airlines' lobbying office in Washington, D.C., to focus public attention on the airline's anti-democratic campaign to stop the vote.
American Airlines' actions have shown that it doesn't care much about its workers or passengers. AMR, the airline's parent company that filed for bankruptcy last year, continues to outsource jobs across its system, hiring low-paid contractors for hundreds of gate and ramp agent positions at the height of the busiest holiday travel season of the year.
"My last day was Tuesday and they put us out on the street with nothing," said Sylvia Solis, a former passenger service agent at Miami International Airport. "The outsourced people don't know how to check in an infant, and they think JFK is London. They do not have the slightest airline industry background."
Renee Similien had worked the First Class check-in counter at Logan Airport in Boston for the past 12 years until Friday, her last day of formal employment at American Airlines. She said she was working 50-60 hour weeks for the past several years saving for her child's college tuition, and her salary maxed out at $50,000 a year. "Everyone who was at max pay was kicked out," she said, adding that her replacement is currently making $9 an hour without benefits.
Following the orders of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the National Mediation Board scheduled an election for nearly 9,700 American Airlines agents to vote on union representation beginning December 4. Despite two determinations from the appeals court ordering that the vote go forward, American Airlines now is seeking a stay of those decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court.
AMR recently announced that since it filed for bankruptcy last November, it has spent over $200 million on fees and expenses related to the bankruptcy. Of that, AMR paid $19.5 million to the New York City-based law firm Paul Hastings LLP, to help the airline throw out existing union contracts and stop passenger service agents from voting in their democratic election.