Districts 2-13, 3 Honored for Big Win After 10-Year Fight at Piedmont

Ramp Agent: 'Now We Have a Voice That's Speaking Very Loud'


Abdur-Rahim Bilal, a worker who helped organize fellow Piedmont ramp and gate agents, tells delegates that "We knew CWA had our backs" in the decade-long campaign.

CWA's highest honor, the President's Annual Award, was presented this year to District 2-13 and District 3 for their exhaustive efforts over 10 years to organize more than 3,000 passenger service agents at Piedmont Airlines.

Piedmont workers voted overwhelmingly for CWA representation in November 2010, unswayed by management's relentless anti-union campaign and the union-busting consultants the company hired.

"We stood strong," Charlotte, N.C.-based Piedmont ramp agent Abdur-Rahim Bilal, a leader of the agents' long campaign, proudly told CWA delegates Tuesday. "We stood up against them, we put our jobs on the line. We fought hard to join an organization that we knew would stand up with us. Today I must say we are very, very thankful for that."

Knowing that "CWA had our back" made the decade-long campaign bearable, Bilal said. "What it means to be part of a great union, we've gained from your support, brothers and sisters. We knew there would be someone here to help us in this fight, and now we know we can stand up and help some of the other workers at the airline industry."

Bilal said Piedmont agents are now bargaining their first contract, and finally have hope that the "unbelievable" low wages of some workers will improve. "We are looking for fairness for all of the workers, full time and part time," he said. "Now we have a voice, a voice that's speaking very loud."

CWA also presented organizing awards to those 15 local unions who organized at least 100 workers since the last convention: Locals 1040, 1171, 2107, 3010, 3104, 3112, 3122, 3204, 3641, 7500, 7901, 9110, 13000, 13301 and 13500.