Envoy News Roundup

By James McKnight, MIA
Envoy Agent and member of the CWA Bargaining Team

We feel the momentum is really on our side right now at Envoy, and we’re looking forward to fresh bargaining in January to make sure that we put an end to poverty wages for all our agents. We made some progress on each proposal back in November, but we’ve been bargaining now for over two-and-a-half years, and it’s time to reach a fair agreement.

In early December we held a protest at my home base of Miami International Airport to bring attention to the fact that at least half of our Envoy agents are regularly working double shifts and still can’t make ends meet. We have agents selling their own blood and relying on public assistance. We’ve started an underground food bank that we all contribute to in order to make sure that our coworkers don’t go hungry when times are tight.

Elected officials have stepped up to support us recently, especially around our action in December. Newly elected member of Congress Donna Shalala is on our side, helping us pressure American’s CEO Doug Parker to do the right thing. She got it right when she said, "We ought to treat employees decently. [American Airlines] made billions last year, and they got a big tax cut from the president, and that ought to be passed down to workers."

And back in November Rep. Al Green (D-TX) sent a letter to American Airlines CEO Doug Parker urging him to engage in good faith negotiations with Envoy passenger service agents. Rep. Green said without a fair contract, Envoy agents face economic hardship that impacts the communities where they live and work. To read the full letter, click here.

We’re fighting for respect and decent treatment on the job, so that every Envoy agent can be part of the American Dream. Recently a group of about 400 wheelchair assistants joined our bargaining unit. The addition of wheelchair assistants to the ranks of Envoy agents is an experiment here in Miami that could spread to other stations. The assistants lost 40 percent of their wages because the third-party vendor they were working for had been paying them $16 per hour in compliance with our local laws—but now they’re down to around $9.50. How is it possible that a vendor paid them more than the multi-billion-dollar corporation I work for? It makes no sense, and it’s not fair.

Nonetheless, I feel optimistic going forward because I think things may be changing. Corporations such as Amazon and Target increased their minimum wages to $15 per hour, and on January 1, 2019, 5.3 million low wage workers in 20 states got a raise in their minimum wage. I don’t think American Airlines executives can keep their heads in the sand. None of us want to go to mediation, so I hope we’ll get a deal soon.

We all want to feel hopeful again, and that’s why we’re fighting so hard for this first contract. Every one of us is committed to fighting one day longer to negotiate a contract that meets every members’ needs, and members of the bargaining team appreciate every act of support we get from agents across the country.