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Member Mobilization Was Key to Piedmont Workers New Contract

By Bruce Diep, Orange County, CA, Local 7040
Piedmont agent and member of the CWA Bargaining Team

Piedmont passenger service agents ratified a new contract last November. The road to an agreement wasn’t easy, but we can be proud of the solidarity we built among agents throughout the process. I’d like to share some of our lessons learned along the way.

By early 2018, our original Piedmont bargaining team had been negotiating with the company for more than a year. Our members voted against the first tentative agreement in March 2018, and that sent the company and the bargaining team back into talks with a federal mediator. Last month, we ratified a new five-year contract that covers 6,000 agents in 28 states. The contract includes significant improvements in wages and benefits, all of which we earned by keeping consistent pressure on the company and through our members’ willingness to fight one day longer.

What we discovered is that member mobilization is essential to winning improvements at work. Thousands of members took action in support of our bargaining team. We increased pressure on the company through the spring, summer, and early fall, letting management know that Piedmont agents truly cared about ending poverty wages at American Airlines.

We wore CWA pins and signed “I’m All In” cards. We took solidarity selfies and flooded American Airlines Vice President Eric Morgan’s email box. We made our case at a major event with Senator Bernie Sanders and in Labor Day parades in Philadelphia and Charlotte. We lobbied members of Congress, and they came through with support and even more pressure on American Airlines executives. We even traveled to the American Airlines shareholders’ meeting to make our voices heard.

Workers at Envoy Airlines are still in bargaining after two and a half years. Donielle Prophete, Vice President of Local 3645 and a member of the Piedmont bargaining team, told me that she supports her Envoy brothers and sisters and encourages them to continue to mobilize, mobilize, mobilize! “When I look back, I think the first big picketing we did in March, to launch our mobilization around the upcoming mediation was especially powerful. And I think the small gesture of wearing CWA pins was awesome! The pins allowed us to feel unified.”

That feeling of unity is priceless and it didn’t disappear after the Piedmont contract was ratified. We know we are all in this together in the labor movement, and we look forward to maintaining our solidarity and focus for the next challenge.