As contract negotiations for thousands of passenger service professionals at American Airlines subsidiary Envoy Air continue, more than 80 members of Congress sent a letter to American Airlines CEO Doug Parker on February 8 urging him to "conclude your collective bargaining negotiations and ensure that all of your employees can earn a living wage."
Parker made more than $11.3 million in 2017; his company posted $1.9 billion profits; yet thousands of Envoy agents make as little as $9.48 an hour. The letter's signatories also call on American to follow through on promises made in support of recent corporate tax cuts, encouraging the company to ensure workers' salaries "provide for the ability to support themselves and their families."
"We were surprised to learn that many of these agents earn less than $11 an hour and, as a result, must deal with constant churn at work and struggle at home to make ends meet," the letter states. Calling on the company to raise pay, the letter concludes: "There is no stronger investment that American Airlines can make for its future, the future of the traveling public, and the future of our communities."
Where Did Your Pay Raise Go? It May Have Become a Bonus
The front page of the New York Times featured a story on how worker bonuses are being used to substitute for real wage increases:
Takisha Gower, a passenger service agent for Envoy, the air carrier that was previously known as American Eagle and is owned by American Airlines, welcomed her recent $1,000 bonus, which the company credited to the “new tax structure.” She is much more concerned, however, about her base pay week to week, a subject of longstanding contract negotiations.
"It was appreciated, but it doesn't fix the long term," Ms. Gower said of the bonus. "We need a livable wage that we can support our families off."
"A lot of employees qualify for government assistance," she added. “Some have to work 60 hours a week to make ends meet."