Airline Outsourcing, Restructuring, and Consolidation are Harming Workers and Consumers

This week, CWA released a new report called Fissuring in Flight, by labor economist Dr. Brian Callaci. The report analyzes government data to show how major airline carriers have used outsourcing, restructuring, and consolidation to suppress wages and erode the quality of jobs in the airline industry.

Callaci will testify at a January 15 U.S. House Subcommittee on Aviation hearing, "Oversight of Working Conditions for Airline Ground Workers," along with Piedmont Airlines passenger service agent Donielle Prophete, Vice President of CWA Local 3645, who will call on American Airlines to address serious safety issues for passenger service agents at the company's subsidiaries including Piedmont. Prophete has first-hand experience of the tragic consequences when safety hazards go unaddressed. She works at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, where CWA member Kendrick Hudson was killed in August when the vehicle he was driving flipped over after hitting a piece of baggage he could not see that had fallen out of a luggage cart.

The report highlights the impact of a merger wave across the U.S. domestic airline industry that has resulted in control of the market by three legacy airlines – America, Delta, and United – with limited competition from other airlines. Those three large domestic airlines are outsourcing ground and passenger service work to third-party contractors, and relying on regional airlines they've acquired or contracted for an increasing share of routes to do the same work as direct employees but for lower wages.

These changes undermine the collective bargaining power of union-represented workers in the industry. The congressional hearing will bring much-needed attention to the issue as airline workers fight to raise standards across the industry and protect the gains we have won through collective bargaining.

We'll be posting updates from the hearing on CWA's Facebook page, and the hearing will be livestreamed beginning at 10 am EST on January 15 at https://transportation.house.gov/committee-activity/hearings/oversight-of-working-conditions-for-airline-ground-workers.