Agents Take Their Message to Capitol Hill

All American Agents Deserve a Livable Wage

Passenger service agents from Envoy Air and Piedmont Airlines led a full-court press on Capitol Hill on Monday, May 14. Agents went to the Hill to ask Senators to urge American Airlines CEO Doug Parker to put an end to poverty wages at American's regional carriers. Agents spent most of the day educating Senators and their aides on the lack of fair pay and benefits for the majority of Piedmont and Envoy workers and the lack of progress on these issues in bargaining.

Tameka and Brian on Capitol Hill

Tameka Norman (Piedmont, PHL), Jeff Cruz (staff member, Sen. Bernie Sanders, VT), Brian Zeh (Envoy-ROC)

Tameka Norman, a Piedmont agent from Philadelphia, and Brian Zeh, an Envoy agent from Rochester, joined forces to meet with Senate staffers from northeastern states, including Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, and Vermont. Senate staff were surprised by the challenges agents face on a daily basis, including extremely low pay that doesn’t cover basic expenses and physically demanding work.

Brian says he plans to encourage his coworkers to add their voices to the demand for fairness. “I’m going to get folks back in Rochester to make calls to our Senators too. We’re going to ask them to write letters and send out tweets—whatever they can do to support us. We need a good, fair contract soon.”

Leslie Nearing, a Piedmont agent from Phoenix, says she wants Senators and the public to understand the hardships she and her co-workers face. She lobbied on behalf of her friends who work 60 hours a week and can’t make ends meet. “We represent the company every day. We’re the company’s public face, and we deserve respect from them,” says Leslie.

Rachael Bradford, an Envoy agent based in Houston, says she and her coworkers are tired and fed up. They want CEO Parker to understand that no one can live on $10 an hour. “Sacrificing health care and medicine just so you can eat is unacceptable. I wish Doug Parker could spend a day in our shoes to see how it feels trying to survive. I want a realistic, livable wage so I have time to see my son. I want affordable health care and less stress on workers. I don’t want us to have to kill ourselves 16 hours a day.”

Piedmont agent Darryl Williams from Charlotte says that he thinks the visit to Capitol Hill was effective because it’s important for agents to share their personal stories with our elected representatives in Washington. “The livable wage issue is serious,” says Darryl. “At my station we actually have a food bank for employees because they don’t make enough money to buy their meals while they’re at work.”

In the late afternoon, agents also met with and thanked staff of members of the House of Representatives who have already signed a letter to American Airlines supporting fair contracts for Envoy and Piedmont workers.  

The Envoy agents’ bargaining team meets in two weeks to resume contract negotiations, and Piedmont’s team will enter mediated bargaining later this summer.