Flight attendants at virtually every US airline are experiencing a very challenging period in their careers. As airlines earn record breaking profits, many employees say they’ve been, at the very least, duped as they are expected to endure stagnant pay and exploitative work rules. The DOJ investigation into price fixing among major airlines may have quieted down, but the collusive environment in the airline industry will definitely be leading to even more scrutiny.
Whether union or non-union, airline workers feel taken advantage of by airline management teams who’ve repeatedly come to them in tough times to ask for concessions; using slogans like “Pull Together, Win Together” and promising employees that their sacrifices would be rewarded when profitability returned. However, when profitability did return, executives and shareholders were the only ones to benefit and worker found themselves earning the same or less in real wages than they did 20 years ago.
Since all major airlines have created policies which provide for discipline and even termination for those daring to speak out publicly, I’ve chosen to continue to speak on their behalf.
Eventually, the injustices that are being experienced by workers at US airlines and other large corporations will result in serious operational breakdowns which will have Americans pointing fingers at the very people I’m about to mention as well as those who share the same ideology. #CrewCode
“Employees have had enough of being used as piggy banks by corporate executives with a plan to tire them out physically, emotionally and financially only to replace them with new, lower paid workers then repeat the process” — Gailen David
Doug Parker, CEO AA
Laura Glading, former-Pres. APFA
Laura Glading and Doug Parker worked out a concessionary deal for American Airlines flight attendants during American’s bankruptcy and before the merger of American Airlines and US Airways. In other words, she crafted an agreement and made a bevy of promises to Doug Parker who was not even an officer of American Airlines at the time. Tom Weir, was then VP and Treasurer of US Airways and holds the same position now at American. He is also the cousin of Laura Glading and the relationship provided a very convenient way for Doug Parker to secure enormous labor cost savings.
Even though flight attendants voted down the concessionary agreement put out to them for a vote, the agreement was then forced onto them and to this day most of the meager financial improvements promised have not been implemented. In other words, the flight attendants are working under rules put in place in during American’s bankruptcy even though American made $4.2 billion in 2014 and $1.6 billion in the 3rd quarter of 2015 alone.
Using union-busting techniques engineered by an army of consultants, American’s management has been able to basically take control of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants. The main communications officer for the APFA, Leslie Mayo, even crossed over to a new position at AA’s headquarters. Prior to defecting from APFA, Leslie showed up in Las Vegas at the Board of Directors Meeting of The Association of Flight Attendants (a much larger union representing flight attendants at 18 airlines) specifically to misreport the state of that union to members of the APFA.
Fed up with the corruption, flight attendants at American began a campaign calling for the recall of Laura Glading but Ms. Glading resigned before the recall voting process could even take place.
American’s flight attendants have since hired a law firm to prompt the DOJ to investigate the negotiations process of their 2014 imposed contract. Doug Parker has continued to state that he no plans to reward flight attendants for their contribution to American’s profits now or for their concessions in years past which have helped American become the world’s largest airline once again.
Jeff Smisek, former CEO United and Marcus Valentino, Continental MEC President
Closely linked to Laura Glading is Marcus Valentino, who represents flight attendants at United who previously flew with Continental Airlines. As the Association of Flight Attendants has worked to negotiate a new agreement to cover all flight attendants of the new airline created by the merger, Valentino has worked to create division, confusion and disruption which has facilitated UAL management’s stalling tactics and held up United’s flight attendants from getting the contract they deserve.
By delaying the contract at United in any way he can, Marcus Valentino has also kept American Airlines flight attendants from benefiting from the potential gains of United flight attendants. When flight attendants at American rejected their tentative agreement, they also prevented Laura Glading from removing a stipulation that requires American to adjust their flight attendant contract should a United agreement lift the industry average.
Why would Mr. Valentino want to delay the contract? It may have something to do with the almost 200 hours of flight pay per month he receives as well as a downtown Chicago apartment, near United’s corporate offices on S. Wacker Drive, all of which he’ll lose when a contract is ratified.
How could Valentino be part of an effort to deny over 50,000 flight attendants what they rightfully deserve — a disgrace.
Richard Anderson and Allison Ausband
CEO and VP Inflight at Delta Air Lines
The strategy at each one of these airlines is different, but the goal is the same; to deny hard working employees the compensation, work rules and basic protections they rightfully deserve.
I recently wrote an article that outlines what it is like to work for Delta. Mr. Anderson and Ms. Ausband enjoy referring to Delta as the envy of the industry and in a lot of ways they’re right. However, it’s the Delta people who’ve made it the great airline that it is. Most on the outside are unfamiliar with the ‘dark side of Delta’ which punishes and/or terminates employees with little recourse for anything from calling in sick, to complaining about work rule infractions or even being written up maliciously by a fellow employee.
Richard Anderson, Delta CEO, also served as CEO of Northwest Airlines which was heavily unionized. When he arrived at Delta, he found a culture of cooperation which he obviously identified as a weakness. The non-union environment at Delta inflight service allows work rules and compensation to be set by and changed arbitrarily by Delta at any time. In the past, Delta has used these freedoms liberally and many do not wish to be subjected to that type of uncertainty in their careers. This is one of the main reasons the unionization effort at Delta is in full force. To deflate the unionization campaign, Delta recently provided flight attendants with a substantial pay raise which, as expected, is much less generous when accompanying changes to employee benefit costs and work rules are figured in.
Although Delta claims to be allowing flight attendants to make their own decision as to whether or not they desire union representation, crews are being perpetually bombarded with anti-union propaganda as well as experiencing a variety of other tactics being used by management to vilify the union campaign.
All Delta flight attendants are asking for a bargaining agent, to have their compensation and work rules in contract form and for due process in the event of discipline or termination.
It’s a Concerted Effort
If you don’t think all of these airlines are working together to short-circuit employees, think again. Basically, Delta’s leaders participate by providing just enough to their people to have them lose the desire for union representation. At the same time, employees at American and United question their own unions who’ve not brought them the same increases that Delta employees are receiving. All the while, the management at American and United work to destabilize unions as I’ve described above by convincing certain unscrupulous union leaders to see it management’s way even signing agreements to make it virtually impossible for workers to fight back.
The cycle will continue until all flight attendants come together and refuse to play along any longer.