Envoy Stewards Train as Agent Advocates
In November more than 20 Envoy stewards trained as agent advocates at DFW and ORD, learning to handle a variety of questions and procedures under their new contract.
In Dallas, Texas, seventeen Envoy agents representing eight stations across District 6 joined Chris Kress and Mike Lo Vuolo for intensive steward training. The agents learned how to write and handle grievances and how to represent their coworkers at hearings. They spent much of the two days learning about their new contract so they can share that information back home. The stewards left Dallas with the goal of signing up new union members at all their stations.
Waldo "Toby" Lane, an Envoy agent and steward from Springfield, Missouri (SGF), said the training will help him process coworkers’ grievances and educate them about their rights. “This was a productive and fun two days. I became a steward to help my coworkers sleep better, knowing that someone has their back when there are problems or they’re treated unfairly on the job,” said Toby. “What I’ve seen after the ratification of our new contract,” he added, “is an increase in people’s willingness to push back against unfair treatment. They know it’s okay to speak up now. And on the other side, I see a greater willingness of management to listen to workers. They know there are clear rules, policies, and procedures to follow. No one can just make up the rules! For myself, I’m glad to help people have a better experience every day at work.”[caption align="left"]
Crystal Roberts, a new Envoy steward at DFW spent several years as a mainline agent before joining Envoy six years ago. Crystal wanted to step up and get more involved when Envoy launched its official steward program. “I think I can be a real advocate because I respect my coworkers, and I think they respect me,” said Crystal. “I loved the training because Mike and Chris are honest about the challenges and there’s no fluff! We received a great deal of information about the nitty-gritty of the grievance process. There were also a lot of questions and concerns addressed about the union and its history. I'm looking forward to putting all this information to use to assist our agents and management to become more unified.”
Recently the new CWA Local 6002 was officially chartered, giving the stewards another reason to celebrate. Local 6002 represents over 1,300 Envoy agents in five states—Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas. Plans are underway for an additional steward training in mid-December and elections for the Local 6002 Executive Board early in 2020.
Four stewards were trained at ORD in November. Four-year Envoy veteran Lauren Walker is a Lead Agent who decided she wanted to speak up for those who need an advocate, so she attended new steward training in Chicago.
“A lot of agents are intimidated by management, and they are also not fully educated about how the contract works. They don’t necessarily know what we can do to defend our rights on the job,” said Lauren. “I learned a lot at our training, including information about disability policies and how to document problems carefully and request the information agents need. Now I understand how to talk with managers effectively if our concerns are not being heard.”
Lauren said they continue to face challenges related to passenger assaults, both verbal and physical, at ORD. “We’re setting up some meetings to try to educate managers and supervisors too. We want all agents protected.”
We will report on the results of meetings at ORD in expanded coverage of health and safety issues in the next CWA Airline Agents newsletter.