Report Blasts Envoy for Hazardous Conditions for Agents

A new report based on a survey of 800 Envoy passenger service agents nationwide, company injury logs, and OSHA inspections finds that the American Airlines subsidiary subjects agents to significant safety hazards on the job, including unreasonable time pressures, high turnover, chronic low wages, understaffing, long hours, and a toxic management culture.

As all Envoy agents know well, we are regularly forced to cut corners to maintain an on-time schedule and risk injury to do so. CWA conducted the worker survey, which is gaining national attention and bringing the dangers and poverty wages Envoy agents face into the light. The report comes at a time when American Airlines is seeing enormous profits and anticipates $1 billion in new revenue in 2019.

"My station is understaffed to a point of insanity…We are overworked and overexhausted, which makes for a very dangerous combination," says a Wisconsin Envoy agent.

The report shows that frontline employees at Envoy are chronically underpaid, with wages starting at just $9.48 per hour and reaching only $15.71 after 11 years of service to the airline. We work at some of the nation's biggest and busiest airports as well as smaller regional airports that connect flyers to travel destinations around the country. Just like mainline agents, Envoy agents provide essential services to ensure safe experiences for all flyers. We manage pre-flight checks, de-escalate tense situations and help passengers re-book their flights during inclement weather. We work on the runway ramp loading and unloading baggage, guiding planes on the tarmac, deicing planes, supplying water, removing waste, and ensuring aircraft are inspected and safe before takeoff.

"Pressure for on-time departures is so immense that being a nervous wreck and questioning safety is a constant, daily thing," says a Texas Envoy agent.

"American Airlines is spending billions on stock buybacks and multi-million dollar executive paychecks rather than investing its employees. Passengers should be deeply concerned," said Richard Honeycutt, Communications Workers of America District 3 Vice President and Chair of CWA's Passenger Service Airline Council. "Envoy Air agents' best efforts to safely get planes out on time are thwarted by a company that sets flight schedules that are dangerous and unsustainable with the high level of employee turnover due to low wages."

Some of the report's key findings:

  • Nearly eighty percent (79%) of survey participants report feeling rushed to do their jobs during all or most shifts. Seventy-six percent of agents cite understaffing as the top one or two reasons for feeling rushed, and 70% of agents report experiencing understaffing during all or most of their shifts.
  • Seventy-four percent of respondents rated demanding flight schedules and delays/cancellations as the top one or two contributing factor causing time pressure.
  • Nearly half (47%) of agents who work on the runway ramp report they are unable to complete every required damage inspection of aircraft, many citing time pressure and understaffing.
  • A majority (51%) of agents on the runway ramp report working with defective equipment during all or most shifts.
  • Fifty-eight percent of agents who do aircraft cabin searches for contraband or other risks before flights do not have enough time to complete the search.
  • Nearly half (49%) of agents surveyed feel pressure to skip using the bag sizer once, or multiple times on every flight. The bag-sizer is designed to restrict overweight/oversized bags being stored inside the cabin of the plane and prevent compromising the aircraft's weight and balance system.
  • Forty percent of agents are unable to complete walk-around inspections of aircraft to check for signs of visible operational risks like low tire pressure, fuel and/or oil leaks, or visible damage to the wings or body of the plane.
Envoy agents have been negotiating a contract for more than two years. CWA urges the company to address safety concerns, ensure adequate staffing and timely repair of equipment, make sure all workers have protective gear and adequate training, and most important: Pay all agents a living wage! Bargaining for a contract resumes on January 22.