Standing Together: Raise the Standards for All Workers in Aviation

Standing Together: Raise the Standards for All Workers in Aviation

November 16, 2017 — AFA joined UNITE HERE! in Baltimore, Maryland yesterday for the Airline Catering Summit. UNITE HERE! gathered unions across the aviation industry, including AFA, SEIU, Teamsters, IAM, to share organizing and bargaining strategies to improve the lives of every worker in the aviation industry. UNITE HERE! members shared their stories about organizing in the airline catering kitchens (primarily LSG SkyChef and Gate Gourmet).

Airline catering workers face similar issues as regional Flight Attendants at the bargaining table. The company uses the contracts with major carriers as a tool to keep wages low and work rules weak.  

AFA’s Director of Collective Bargaining Joe Burns talked to the conference about our Bridge the Gap campaign and successful bargaining at Mesa Airlines, which flies under the American Eagle and United Express brands.

We mobilized Mesa Flight Attendants to authorize a strike with a 99.56% vote. With that momentum, other AFA carriers and CWA came out to support Mesa AFA by picketing outside of American Airlines and United Airlines terminals. AFA carriers, with the tremendous help from UNITE HERE!, leafleted at airports across the country to engage the flying public in the contract fight.

These actions turned up the pressure not just on Mesa management, but American and United management, to get a deal. The next week, Mesa AFA reached a tentative agreement with management worth 5x more than what the company was willing to agree to a year before.

Building solidarity across the aviation industry and using strategic actions to pressure the major carriers will help raise the standards for ALL Flight Attendants and aviation workers.

“Solidarity is the most powerful force in the world. That’s how we’re going to take on these airline catering companies with UNITE HERE!,” Joe Burns told the conference.

As long as one Flight Attendant or aviation worker is undervalued, all aviation workers are at risk. Together, we can lift each other up and gain the proper recognition for aviation’s first responders and working people.

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