The starting salary for a new American Airlines flight attendant is low enough to qualify for food stamps in some states

The starting salary for a new American Airlines flight attendant is low enough to qualify for food stamps in some states

New flight attendants – facing low starting salaries, long days with relatively fewer paid hoursAnd no possibility to renegotiate salaries on their contacts since 2019even during inflation is constantly rising…face a lot of turbulence on the way to a financially stable career path.

A employment verification letter Since American airlines East circulating on Reddit and attracting attention due to low starting salaries for some newly hired flight attendants. The letter, which says a new American Airlines flight attendant will have a projected annual salary of $27,315 before collecting incentives and taxes, has sparked discussions about fair salaries for flight attendants and the way inflationary price increases make life unaffordable for many Americans, even as the economy and labor markets it looks good on paper.

The union that represents American Airlines workers, called the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, verified the letter’s authenticity, CNN reported. reportedwhich is issued to potential owners or other services where flight attendants must verify their employment and income.

Although the salary indicated in the letter is higher the federal poverty line of $15,060 for a one-person household, this figure does not reflect the true cost of living nationally, which can be much higher in large metropolitan areas.

The union also decried the low starting wage, which for a single-income household meets the qualifying criteria for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamp benefits, in several states, notably Massachusetts And new York.

The union is also calling attention to a growing problem of “corporate greed” by drawing comparisons between the salaries a flight attendant can earn and those earned by the company’s CEO, Robert Isom.

The starting salary for a new flight attendant is approximately $27,000 per yearwhich is only a fraction of the CEO’s budget $31.4 million earned last year—an amount 1,162 times higher than the salary of a new attendant.

American Airlines did not immediately respond to Fortunerequest for comment.

Certainly, there are many challenges between the union representing American Airlines flight attendants and management. Under a federal law called Railway Labor Act, workers and union members in the airline and rail sectors are not authorized to strike without government authorization. Federal mediator groups, such as National Mediation Council, could authorize such authorization by declaring an impasse in negotiations between American Airlines and the union group, or by authorizing the union to continue a possible strike.

The last contract negotiated by the union was signed in 2014, according to a November update by the association, and workers have been without an increase since 2019.

“Flight attendants are front-line workers who bear the brunt of inflation without the compensation necessary to keep pace with the industry,” the association wrote in a statement, adding that the quality of life of flight attendants board “could be improved thanks to a new collective agreement. »

Recently, the union pushed for a new contract to raise hourly wages, joining flight attendants at other airlines including United Airlines, Alaska AirlinesAnd South Westwho make similar requests.

Ensuring that flight attendants are properly paid is particularly important, given that their work model includes many hours of unpaid work. On average, full-time flight attendants only travel 75 hours of hourly pay each monthand payroll often only officially begins once the the plane doors closerather than compensation that also takes into account the hours they must be at the airport or on the plane during the boarding process.

“One of the most stressful parts of the flying experience is during the boarding process,” the union wrote in a May 20 statement. summaryadding: “yet we are not paid for this work”.

Guaranteeing pension benefits, writes the union, “is an important step in remedying this historic inequity”; Notably, other airlines have made these changes, albeit slowly. In June 2022, Delta Airlines pension allowance established for flight attendants, offering workers half their hourly rate during boarding, after facing threats from a union campaign. Delta, however, is the only major American airline whose flight attendants are not unionized.

The union is now proposing a 33% wage increase capped at $91 per hour during the first year of a new contract, with wage increases of 5%, 4% and 4% for the remaining years of the contract. a four-year agreement. He also demands retroactive salary increases based on the number of hours worked by attendants during the last five years of negotiations.

American Airlines “refused to waive a maximum hourly rate of $76, plus boarding pay and other enhancements,” the union wrote in the summary, but the company included benefits such as boarding compensation, higher matching contributions of $401,000, and profit sharing of the same amount. formulated on a pilot basis in its most recent contractual proposal to the union.

This story was originally featured on Fortune.com

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