FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 1, 2021
Enough is Enough – TWU Air Division Workers Stuck in Aviation Meltdown
TWU flight attendants, gate agents, mechanics, and other airline workers have been experiencing extreme stress and horrible working conditions since travel has been returning to pre-pandemic levels.
In particular, the upcoming July 4th weekend is likely to be a nightmare for passengers flying, causing even more stress amongst many already-overworked airline workers.
Just this year, the number of physical assaults being committed against airline workers by angry and upset passengers has equaled the number of the last 20-years, combined. Workers are experiencing mandatory overtime and last-minute assignment notices that take workers away from their families at a moment’s notice, facing losing their job if they refuse. In many locations, airline workers are being forced to work 18-hour days with minimum rest only to discover that there are not hotel rooms available. Flight attendants also face absurd overnight commutes on public transportation.
For fleet service clerks, those extra hours are often spent in dangerous and grueling conditions on the tarmac due to the recent heatwaves and heavy storms. Just think if your boss gave you no option at the end of your work day, as you are leaving to pick up your child from daycare, saying “The airline needs you and if you leave now… you will be terminated!”
Public-facing workers such as gate agents and flight attendants are bearing the brunt of travelers’ heightened anger and anxiety. This can range from things like the aforementioned physical assaults and spitting to verbal disrespect and vitriol.
In most cases, such travelers are angry with the airlines for canceled or delayed flights. But there also is a glaring lack of basic amenities on flights, such as no running water in aircraft lavatories (airlines are providing wet wipes), no toilet paper, only two coffee creamers for a whole flight – and redirect that anger toward the workers.
The workers want you to get to your destination and do everything they can to meet that need, but airline management continues to treat passengers like cattle. Putting more passengers onto planes and in some cases selling flights they do not have enough workers to make that happen.
Of course, the increase in delayed and canceled flights is largely due to the fact that the airlines, which all received extensive federal stimulus money to keep workers on payroll, incentivized senior workers to take voluntary buyouts and leave, in some cases by the thousands, but failed to plan ahead for the return of post-pandemic travelers with replacement workers. Some airlines continue to struggle with hiring, thinking that people are enamored with being an airline worker, sadly they are not willing to pay wages workers are willing to take in the new airline environment.
While creating a debacle for travelers, these failures by airline management has directly resulted in a workforce that is overworked, overstressed, and subjected physical and verbal abuse on an almost daily basis. Some workers who have voiced their concerns have faced discipline. In some cases, they continue to be treated with termination, if they fail to go above and beyond their normal duties.
If you are interested in covering the effects that airlines’ ineptness is having on workers, we would be glad to put you in touch with workers who have experienced this first-hand. Feel free to reach out anytime.
We will also be documenting some of the workers’ stories on our social media channels, which you can follow here.