Envoy-American Eagle passenger service agents protested their low wages outside the DFW Airport on Wednesday, April 19.
Envoy agent salaries start at $9 an hour and more than half make less than $11 an hour. Most agents qualify for public assistance, according to the Communications Workers of America (CWA.)
“It’s commonplace that we donate plasma to make ends meet,” Envoy employee Shannon Kitchen said. “We make poverty wages. A good portion of our workforce is on some sort of government assistance.”
The CWA released a study at the beginning of the year citing that 27 percent of passenger service agents rely on public assistance, 60 percent rely on family and friends, while 13 percent said their wages are enough to support them.
Even though Envoy agents unionized four years ago, Kitchen said finalizing the first contract has been slow.
“We’re fighting for our first contract, and the company has been stalling,” she said. “The longer they stall, the longer they go without paying us well.”
Envoy offered passenger service agents a contract for 7 years with a resulting pay of $19.25 an hour, according to agent Takisha Gower.
Gower has worked for Envoy for 19 years. The end of the contract would signify Gower’s 26th year at the company.
“They have nothing for loyalty,” Gower said. “We’re the front line. We’re making the company run.”
Kitchen said many agents must work extra hours to make ends meet.
“When you’re exhausted or stressed about how you’ll put food on the table, it affects everything. It’s going to affect your focus and safety.” Kitchen said. “It’s not right.”
Envoy employee Toby Lane said service agents do everything from searching to loading the planes.
“We do everything except maintain the airplane mechanically,” Lane said. “We’re responsible for all of that security and revenue, and yet they pay us at a minimal rate. It’s frustrating.”
Though some agents work extra hours, some work additional jobs for added income. However, Lane said that can be difficult given the job’s schedule.
“Our schedules change on an every other month basis,” he said. “It makes it where you have to have it as your only job.”
Envoy said in a statement they are working with the agents to reach a collective bargaining agreement.
“Envoy recognizes the hard work performed by its Customer Service Agents and has negotiated meaningful compensation, benefit and job security enhancements at the bargaining table with its Agents and will continue to negotiate in good faith until a final agreement is reached.”
Envoy passenger service agents will be meet with Envoy representatives and a mediator in Dallas on May 20-22, according to the CWA-Envoy website.
Written by Kayla Henson