–This story is from the Summer 2023 edition of the IAM Journal
The new IAM Air Transport Territory places great importance on negotiating and enforcing strong collective bargaining agreements (CBA’s). But negotiating industry leading contracts isn’t the only focus of the territory. Building bargaining power is key to negotiating a strong IAM contract.
“Negotiating team members can do more to win a good agreement by visiting worksites,” said IAM Air Transport Territory General Vice President Richie Johnsen. “Communicating union goals and the bargaining process to the workers, and taking part in face to face meetings to listen to the members. Communication is key to restoring workers bargaining power.”
With thoughtful messaging and a regular cadence of communications, vital loops of feedback can keep a pulse on the workers’ top concerns and make the workers feel involved and strengthen the solidarity of the unit. An ongoing dialogue is necessary to keep members engaged and build a culture of trust. This helps the IAM stay up to date on workplace issues and quality of life concerns.
The combination of the pandemic, stagnant wages, increased public support for unions, and the influx of young workers into the labor movement have helped change the overall environment for negotiations. The airline industry has been short-staffed and travel demand is booming which also helps bargaining power.
Over the last 15 months, IAM members at United Airlines stood firm to ensure United remained a world-class airline by investing in their most valuable asset–their employees. As a result of the resources from the Grand Lodge, District 141 and the strength and solidarity from the shop floor to the bargaining table, IAM members at United Airlines received a strong tentative agreement.
This tentative agreement will deliver the best in industry wages and stronger job protections. The two-year agreement covers seven different work classifications at the carrier, including Fleet Service Workers, Passenger Service Workers, Storekeepers, Central Load Planners, Maintenance Instructors, Fleet Technical Instructors and Security Officers.
Highlights of the tentative agreements include:
Approximately 9,000 Customer Service Employees, including Customer Representatives, Customer Service Agents and Source of Support Representatives, at Southwest Airlines and represented by IAM District 142 ratified a new, strong five-year agreement.
The more than 5,300 members of IAM District 142 who work in Ramp, Stores, Clerical, Office and Passenger Service at Alaska Airlines ratified a historic, industry-leading four-year contract.
IAM District 141, which represents over 1,800 Ramp Service and Customer Service employees, and District 142, which serves over 600 members at Hawaiian Airlines, achieved new contracts featuring the best job protections and the largest pay rates for both groups in the history of Hawaiian Airlines while improving medical coverage and controlling medical insurance costs.
Nearly 300 Ramp Service workers of IAM District 141 employed by Spirit Airlines in Fort Lauderdale, FL, ratified a five-year deal that provided the highest pay and overall compensation rates in the history of the carrier.
The contract creates pay rates that rise with historic speed – the new pay scales are the highest hourly rates for this classification in the history of the airline. Improvements for part time workers including paid sick time and paid vacation, while doubling the sick bank for full time employees.
McGee Air Services
More than 2,300 members in eight locations have ratified a two-year agreement extension with McGee Air Services, an Alaska Airlines subsidiary, that will put IAM District 142 members at McGee Air Services at one of the highest pay scale levels for airline operation vendors in the industry.
“This contract raised our standard of living,” said Marvin McCarter, a two-year member at McGee Air Services. “A wage increase at all steps, life insurance, and a new 401(k) with a company match, all had a positive effect on our members.”
“Strong unions can counteract employers’ wage-setting power,” said Johnsen. “The goal is to lift members up to a higher standard of working and living. These contracts ensure that IAM members will continue to receive the excellent pay and job protections that they work so hard for and deserve.And it sets the tone for the rest of the airline industry.”