In a new letter to American Airlines CEO Doug Parker penned by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and signed by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), the Senators urge the company to provide increased wages and improved benefits for American subsidiary Envoy Air Passenger Service Agents represented by the Communication Workers of America. The CWA Envoy bargaining team is set to begin talks with a federal mediator and the company on Monday, May 20.
Read the letter here.
“American Airlines has both a moral and economic responsibility to ensure that Envoy agents receive fair compensation and benefits, and at the very least, a living wage,” the letter reads. “We demand that you reverse course on previous proposals and enter into the federal mediation process with the goal of providing meaningful wage increases for these workers.”
The letter points out that American Airlines is a profitable company with $1.4 billion in net income for 2018, yet still pays agents at Envoy poverty wages, causing their employees to struggle to get by.
“As you know, agents at Envoy Air are paid as little as $9.48 an hour and more than half of the agents make less than $11 an hour,” the letter says. “Nearly 27 percent of Envoy employees depend on public assistance, including food stamps. Many must also take extreme measures to support themselves and their families, including selling plasma, buying expired food, and borrowing against retirement accounts. Moreover, only 13 percent of Envoy agents report that they can get by on their wages. Among those not receiving public assistance, 82 percent rely on family or friends to make ends meet.”
The company has faced additional scrutiny from other members of the U.S. Senate. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) has been directly urging the company to bargain a fair contract that pays Envoy agents living wages.