The flight attendants have not received a raise since 2019.
American Airlines flight attendants picketed outside Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on Jan. 24 to call on the company to improve working conditions.
Members of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants held similar strikes at 10 other airports nationwide to let American Airlines know they are prepared for a strike vote if their demands are not met.
Alana Billingsley, a Phoenix resident who has been a flight attendant for 11 years, said the company is short-staffing airplanes and taking its time with union negotiations.
“They’ve really dropped the ball on treating us right,” Billingsley told The Copper Courier. “They called us essential employees all throughout the pandemic, and they got a lot of funding from the government with a lot of promises for taking care of their employees, and we want them to do it.”
Airline workers say they have not received a raise since 2019. In addition to pay increases, they also want to be paid during boarding and have the company contribute more to their 401k retirement plans.
“We’re not paid during boarding and so when we’re the busiest when people are asking the most of us, we’re doing it all on our own time,” Billingsley said.
American Airlines has seen record sales, generating $1.6 billion in operating profit last year—and workers said they want to share in that.
“I wish that people knew that we’re as disrupted by travel delays and cancellations as they are,” Billingsley said. “If they’re treating the passengers like they are, then they’re definitely treating their employees worse.”
Southwest flight attendants picketed at Sky Harbor in September to call for better working conditions, including boarding pay, control over personal schedules, and access to safe places to rest while traveling for work.
Delta Air Lines began paying flight attendants during boarding in June, but only at half of the workers’ regular wages.