Last updated: 03:02 PM ET, Tue December 01 2015

American’s Gate Agents, Customer Reps Approve Deal

Airlines & Airports | American Airlines | Rich Thomaselli | December 01, 2015

American’s Gate Agents, Customer Reps Approve Deal

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Gate agents and customer service representatives for American Airlines have approved a new contract that includes pay raises and a no-furlough guarantee to existing workers.

Whether that is a favorable outcome for flight attendants who are still trying to renegotiate their contract remains to be seen.

The roughly 15,000 customer service reps and gate agents approved their contract by a 73 percent favorable vote. They are represented by the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

“Going forward, local leaders and members will continue to build a strong steward network to ensure the enforcement of all contract provisions,” the CWA said in a statement. “American Airlines agents voted for union representation in September 2014; that vote capped a 19-year struggle for a union voice.”

The two groups were previously not unionized but voted for representation by CWA and IBT last year.

“We could not be more pleased to provide compensation that reflects their contributions toward the airline’s success,” American Senior Vice President of Customer Experience Kerry Philipovitch said in a statement. “This agreement is a huge step in making us truly one combined team, and we thank the CWA-IBT for their professionalism in advocating for their members.”

The contract includes an immediate pay raise that brings agents’ wages on par with what Delta Air Lines’ ground workers – roughly 30 percent – and an additional 9.3 percent wage increase over the life of the five-year deal. Employees engaged at the time of the deal will also not be furloughed. Wage increases will be included in paychecks on December 24.

“Our next task is to continue building a strong steward network to enforce this agreement and its job security provisions,” the union said in its statement.

American’s flight attendants are trying to renegotiate a contract they believe was done in collusion between American CEO Doug Parker, American President Scott Kirby, former Association of Professional Flight Attendants President Laura Glading, and her relative, American Airlines Treasurer Thomas Weir.

More than 1,300 American Airlines flight attendants – paying $41 each – have retained an attorney to investigate claims of wrongdoing during the American-US Airways merger and the current contract negotiated by the APFA union.

Attorney Brian R. Mildenberg, Esq., of Philadelphia-based Mildenberg Law Firm, last month sent a lengthy letter to American Airlines general counsel Paul Jones, putting the company on notice.

“Please be advised that I have been retained by over 1,300 American Airlines Flight Attendants to advocate on their behalf, investigate their claims and to file complaints with the United States Department of Justice and the United States Department of Labor as necessary,” Mildenberg wrote.

Among other concerns, the flight attendants say the new agreements negotiated among the three parties resulted in the loss of profit sharing terms and other benefits in their contract with the merged airline, and purported to bind the flight attendants to binding arbitration instead of open market negotiation of contract terms.

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