CWA to American Airlines: Bonus No Substitute for Fair Wages

CWA passenger service agents at American Airlines, Piedmont, and Envoy and AFA-CWA Flight Attendants who fly with the American Airlines brand will be receiving a $1,000 bonus this month. The bonuses came after CWA President Chris Shelton contacted the CEOs of some of the largest corporations where CWA members work, including American Airlines, to ask them to guarantee the $4,000 wage increase and new jobs promised by the Republican corporate tax cut.

While CWA is pleased that the request has prompted American to pay employees a one-time $1,000 bonus, it falls short of the permanent wage increase that working families were promised.

American continues to pay poverty-level wages to passenger service agents at its Envoy and Piedmont subsidiaries. Passenger service agents play a critical role in ensuring the safety of thousands of passengers each day, yet many agents at these airlines earn less than $11 an hour and qualify for food stamps and other public assistance.

These agents, represented by CWA, are currently in contract negotiations. Despite American's continued profitability and the massive windfall from the tax bill, Envoy and Piedmont are refusing to offer fair wages as part of these negotiations.

"Passenger service agents at Envoy and Piedmont serve passengers in communities across this country, from big airports like Dallas-Fort Worth to smaller locations like Knoxville, TN," said Richard Honeycutt, CWA District 3 Vice President and Chair of CWA's Passenger Service Airline Council. "It's time for American to invest in these communities by increasing wages so that working people at Envoy and Piedmont can have family-supporting and community-building careers, instead of living paycheck to paycheck."

"The White House and GOP leaders have said the tax plan will unleash 'growth of jobs and paychecks' in the U.S.," said Sara Nelson, president of AFA-CWA. "Some corporations have started to respond following adoption of the new tax law and it seems the 'going rate' for investment in employees is a one-time bonus of $1,000. If the airline is benefiting from the new tax law, workers should share in that gain. Any long-term gain for the airline should result in negotiations for improvements for the workers. These improvements should be ongoing, long-term contractual improvements just like the corporate tax cuts. That's how workers know the promise of good jobs and wages will be fulfilled."