An Envoy Steward's Story: Supporting Members at ORD

Delvorie Meighan has been a passenger service agent for Envoy Airlines at ORD for five years and is now a steward. She shares a story about a successful grievance procedure for a member at O’Hare who was disciplined for failing an aircraft search. 

Delvorie's story is an example of how valuable the on-the-ground work of each CWA steward is in meeting the needs of members. From the moment a problem arises, through each stage of the grievance procedure, stewards and other union representatives are there to provide expertise and support when agents are feeling the most vulnerable. Delvorie explains how she pursued and won a typical case.

During a two-person search of an aircraft, one of the agents took the front while the other agent started from the back, and they met at the designated exit row. During the boarding process a passenger seated in the front half of the aircraft found a forbidden item attached to the seat belt.

The manager on duty that day issued both agents a first-step advisory, even though the agents wrote statements saying exactly which area of the aircraft each was responsible for. The member felt this was unfair to her and discouraged teamwork, so she decided to grieve the advisory.

When I was first asked to be a steward for this case, I thought it would be easy because our member followed procedures, and this was the way agents have conducted searches for at least the past 18 years.

During our initial meeting for the first-step grievance, it seemed as though management had created new local practices to justify disciplining both agents. The argument was that each employee on the aircraft should go over the other's searched areas to ensure they were secure. We thought this defeated the purpose of having two agents search an aircraft, especially during a quick turn.

I wasn’t sure if this incident had happened before, how management had handled it, or even if there was an official policy and procedure for conducting two-person aircraft searches. I decided to start my information gathering with the station trainer. Within an hour I received a reply that there was no such thing as a two-person aircraft search policy.

I then called American Airlines mainline, because Envoy mirrors just about everything AA does, and I learned that Prospect conducts the aircraft searches for American. The Prospect trainer explained that they assign sections of the aircraft to an individual and at the end of the day if something were to happen, only that person would be held responsible. 

I prepared and submitted my written appeal for our second-level grievance to the hub EIC. I briefed another steward who took over the second step. In the end, after reviewing all of the details—including the fact that there is no proper training manual in place for the agents to follow—the hub EIC agreed the discipline was unjust and removed the advisory from the member's file.

Congratulations to Delvorie for a successful outcome in Chicago!