A new survey of 900 CWA-represented passenger service agents at Envoy, an American Airlines wholly-owned carrier, shows that 27 percent of respondents must rely on public assistance to make ends meet and many are forced to go to extreme measures to cover basic living expenses, including selling plasma, buying out-of-date food, and borrowing against retirement accounts. Despite American Airlines reporting $1.9 billion in profits in 2017, agents at Envoy Air are paid as little as $9.48 an hour.
The survey highlights the growing concerns expressed by Envoy agents who are bargaining for their first union contract.
"While profits churn at American Airlines and executives enjoy massive tax cuts, the hardworking passenger service agents at Envoy Air are forced to rely on taxpayer-funded assistance programs and take extreme measures like selling their own plasma to scrape by," said Chris Shelton, President of the Communications Workers of America (CWA). "Envoy agents, their union family, and elected officials are standing up to say we've had enough of American Airlines shortchanging working people. American Airlines CEO Doug Parker can end this financial crisis for thousands of families right now and pay all passenger service agents family-supporting wages."
Earlier this month, more than 80 members of Congress sent a letter to American Airlines CEO Doug Parker urging him to "conclude your collective bargaining negotiations and ensure that all of your employees can earn a living wage."
The Dallas Morning News wrote about the CWA report and how Passenger Service Agents like Takisha Gower at Envoy are fighting for fair wages:
Although the passengers bought their tickets through American Airlines, Gower works for the company's subsidiary, Envoy Air, which operates regional flights for the Fort Worth-based carrier under the American Eagle brand.
Gower and her coworkers are fighting for what they describe as a livable wage as their union negotiates with Envoy for what would be their first ever collectively bargained contract.
"I think most Americans would be shocked at the low wages," said Richard Honeycutt, a vice president with the CWA.