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A Hopeful Day for Airport Workers on Capitol Hill

On March 9, airport service workers from across the country joined Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (IL-04) as they reintroduced the Good Jobs for Good Airports Act (GJGA) in Congress. The legislation is designed to provide fair wages and benefits for airport workers, who have served the public and supported the aviation industry through climate disasters and a pandemic, among other crises.

James McKnight, president of CWA Local 3146 in Miami, and Donielle Prophete, president of CWA Local 3645 in Charlotte, spent two days lobbying members of Congress and spoke at a rally on behalf of GJGA.

James McKnight speaks on Capitol Hill

Pres. McKnight spoke from 23 years of experience at Envoy Air and as a representative of 1,800 of his fellow passenger service agents:

“Today is an incredibly hopeful day for frontline airport service workers!” Pres. McKnight explained. “Members of our union are on the frontline of our nation’s airline industry, ticketing and boarding passengers, loading and unloading baggage, and performing essential services at the gates and on airport ramps….Every day, my brothers and sisters at Envoy work side-by-side with agents employed directly by American Airlines and the Envoy workers are paid lower wages…. Many of my fellow members have been forced to work multiple jobs, and some members were giving blood for a short time to generate enough income to feed their families.”

“If Envoy employees didn’t have to work multiple jobs, they would be better rested, sharper at work, and would provide better customer service. The company would reap the benefit of less turnover, employees would be less stressed, they could work fewer hours, and I think they would be more proud of where they work.”

Donielle and Rep. Fouchee

Pres. Prophete has 17 years of experience as a passenger service agent for Piedmont Airlines in Charlotte. She shared the situation for 2,000 of her fellow members across 24 stations in the Southeast:

“Throughout the pandemic, our members risked their lives to keep operations running smoothly.  Performing our duties during a global health emergency was one of the most challenging experiences I’ve experienced in the industry…. At Piedmont Airlines, my members earn wages that are significantly lower than what agents working directly for the American Airlines parent company are paid, despite performing the same duties. At smaller, regional airports, we have one agent working mainline at $32 per hour and a regional agent working at a computer right next to her making $11. They wear the same uniform…. Now workplace violence is worse than I’ve ever seen. Imagine making barely enough money to survive and getting attacked at work too.”

The Good Jobs for Good Airports Act would close pay gaps between regional and mainline workers by setting wage minimums based on the airport’s location. Passage of the act would mean our skilled  brothers and sisters could afford to live where they work and provide for their families.