Labor Day Message

Labor Day Message

Sept 4, 2015 - As you celebrate this holiday weekend with your friends and family at home or with your flying partners at work, remember, Labor Day is OUR day. 

Labor Day Message

September 4, 2015

Dear Flight Attendants,

As you celebrate this holiday weekend with your friends and family at home or with your flying partners at work, remember, Labor Day is OUR day. Our national holiday is a celebration of the social and economic achievements of American workers. Labor Day is dedicated to no single woman or man, no specific achievement; but rather a collective agenda for advancement and improvement for all workers throughout the country.

This year five million AFL-CIO union members are in bargaining and together we are fighting to raise wages for American workers because a recovered economy and record corporate profits are not yet felt in our homes. The stories from negotiating tables across the country and every industry is the same: management is pushing those of us on the front lines to work harder for less, to accept losing control of our schedules and to pay for improvements with concessions in healthcare, retirement or work rules. Management is threatening our job security and scheming to outsource or redefine our work at a lower value.

We are not alone in our disgust for corporate greed. The spirit of the American worker is fed up and fighting back. We see it in the “Fight for 15” and the recent FairPoint strike. We see it as a mother with two teenage boys stops to watch our own crowded AFA-CWA picket line. She tells her sons, “this is what people do when they believe in something… they fight for it.”

This Labor Day, we celebrate 70 years as a Flight Attendant union and honor our founders by committing to stand together to fight for our future. During the bankruptcy era we were forced to negotiate against the lowest industry standard in our Flight Attendant profession. Today, it is up to us to stand together to negotiate for the highest standard. No more cost-neutral negotiations; today we rightly fight for improvements.

Our campaign to Bridge the Gap between the compensation, benefits and work rules for Flight Attendants at mainline and regional airlines is critical to keep management from undermining advances we have made through 70 years of bargaining. We are all aviation’s first responders and we serve the same passengers on our planes. Currently, forty-five percent of the lift for mainline airlines is performed by regional service with Flight Attendants who on average make forty percent less. This is a threat to all of our jobs and Bridge the Gap is a campaign for the job security of every Flight Attendant.

Meanwhile, we must continue to push forward in every single negotiations. This is our time. Record profits at United and other airlines sets the stage for improvements, but it’s up to us to make it happen. At no other time in our history have we had the opportunity to push our careers forward and make improvements for 50,000 Flight Attendants all at once! We made sure the American contract, put in place through binding arbitration, would include a clause for improvements if the United contract is worth more than the American Agreement. This means negotiations at United is a direct opportunity to raise wages for 50,000 Flight Attendants and set a new industry standard that will benefit thousands more.

This Labor Day let’s set the record straight about who is dedicated to the success of our airlines. We are the constant. We are the ones focused on running a safe, reliable, friendly airline. And because of our union we have the right to call out mismanagement when we see it. We have the right to demand compensation for the value we generate through our dedicated work on the frontlines every day.

The United Nations defines workers’ rights as fundamental human rights. Generations of workers died to give us these rights. They were shot down at Homestead Pennsylvania and in the hills of West Virginia. They were hanged for the Haymarket affair in Chicago, and beaten on an overpass near Detroit – all for taking a stand for the rights of working people. There were beatings at Stonewall and murders in San Francisco City Hall. These activists thought it was important enough to stand up against all odds and put everything on the line to make it better for their families – and for our families.

We owe it to those who fought and died for our rights, we owe it to ourselves, and we owe it to our children to continue the fight for labor rights. And our fight begins with compassion and support for one another.

This Labor Day, take time to recognize the contributions of a fellow worker: every voice, every action by one has meaning for us all. Tell someone – thank you, it's nice to work with you. A powerful way to recognize each other is to wear our AFA pin; it is a symbol of what we share as Flight Attendants and our commitment to each other to gain our fair share of the profits we make possible at our airlines.

I am proud to work with each of you. Have a Happy Labor Day.

In Solidarity,

Sara Nelson
AFA-CWA International President

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