Shouts of “Wake up American” rang through the air as members of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) protested outside the American Airlines headquarters in Ft. Worth on Thursday, Aug. 30.
“American Airlines flight attendants are here to let American know they are at their wits end with all of these monumental changes that are not going well at all,” said Lori Bassani, national president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants. “Our union represents 27,000 flight attendants for American Airlines.”
APFA members arrived at 7:30 a.m. to truly ‘Wake up American.’
“Our theme today is ‘Wake up American’ so we got here before they started getting to work,” Bassani said. “We wanted to make sure we could wake them up, that’s why we are here.
“We plan on being here for two hours, we think by then they will get the message. It gives our flight attendants a chance to come out and air their concerns, which there are many.”
A major change the APFA protested against was scheduling.
“Some of the major changes are scheduling issues that have been introduced,” Bassani said. “They were not ready to be introduced, because they have been improperly programed by violating our seniority and our contracts.”
The sick policy was also an issue on the protesters’ agenda.
“The sick policy isn’t fair,” protester Gina Roland said. “The sick policy is really punitive for being five minutes late. If you get so many points, they can just fire you. If you don’t have enough hours for a family leave, then that is a point. I think it is a way to get rid of the super senior flight attendants who make the most money. It just isn’t right.”
Protest participant and flight attendant for 32 years, Rebecca Smith, said they must let Amercian know their concerns.
“The flight attendant jobs are falling apart,” Smith said. “The catering, the lack of rest, the legalities, our job is slowly dissipating. The company is not listening to our needs. We asked for uniforms that are not toxic, that are not making us sick, and it has taken them two years to change.
“There are 27,000 of us. We are the front lines of this company and we want it to do well, but we are falling apart at the seams. We are hoping to get their attention to have them listen to what we have to say.”
The new reserve system was another big issue protested.
“We are going backwards in time with this new reserve system,” Smith said. “Everything is seniority at American Airlines for the crew members. I have been off of reserve for five years, and now I have been thrown back on it. So instead of progressing to a better place, to better trips, I am going backwards.”
The lack of rest causes new hires to quit, according to Smith.
“They are doing a lot of hiring, and the new hires are leaving because they don’t get enough rest,” Smith said. “I don’t mind working a 12 hour day, I just want enough time to have some rest. I want my day to be productive as well, but we do require rest and food. Those are basic needs, and we are not getting them.
“[American employees] love their job and they love this company. It’s just infuriating and we are trying to do something to stop that.”
The APFA hopes the airline company hears their concerns and is willing to make changes.
“Hopefully they will come to the table with our union and have respectable and logical comments about trying to fix the things that we are asking for,” Smith said.
Lori Bassani has been a part of protests before and believes they work.
“We have the right to protest,” Bassani said. “It is important that we bring to light our issues and we are able to air these issues out to our company, to the public and our flight attendants.
“[Protesting] is one of our rights as a union, and it is one of the ways we are allowed to air out our grievances. It has been effective in the past.”
You can view video of the protest below:
Written by Tricia Sims