Flight attendant union demonstrates for higher pay at PDX
Unionized flight attendants demonstrated on the departure level outside Portland International Airport as part of ongoing contract negotiations with Alaska Airlines on Wednesday, Oct. 6.
Representatives with the Association of Association of Flight Attendants-CWA,, part of the AFL-CIO, say that Horizon Air flight attendants are stuck on a payscale fit for a regional carrier — even though Horizon is owned by Alaska.
"The regional airlines are severely underpaid comparatively with the mainline carriers," said Lisa Davis-Warren, vice president for Local Executive Council 17, which covers flights out of Portland and Medford.
Davis-Warren said starting pay for a Horizon steward could be $1,500 a month, about $700 less than what a similar Alaska employee earns. After more than 15 years of service, a Horizon flight attendant might expect to net about $2,800 a month, she said, compared with $4,600 for Alaska workers.
"We're carrying the same passengers," Davis-Warren continued, "we're doing the same service. Most importantly, we're providing the same safety and security measures for every passenger that steps on board."
Today at PDX: @afa_cwa union flight attendants with Horizon Air (part of @AlaskaAir) are rallying for higher wages. The airport has a free speech zone they are not allowed to leave: pic.twitter.com/ei8OtntxSi— Zane Sparling (@PDXzane) November 6, 2019
About 20 people handed out fliers during the PDX rally inside a compact "free speech zone" near a smart carte dispenser on a pedestrian island. Organizers said they had received a permit for the rally from the Port of Portland, but it wasn't near their own airline's gate.
(The Port of Portland created the speech area after protesters stormed the airport in January to protest President Donald Trump's immigration policies).
Union rep Tanya Phillips said after nearly 11 months of contract negotiations with Alaska, management had offered a "slap in the face" 1.5% pay bump. Also on the table is scheduling, as flight attendants say they aren't paid for the time passengers spend boarding the plane.
"We understand that regional airlines make less money, but we are way below that," Phillips said. "It's hard work."
In a statement to the Tribune, Alaska Airlines said it was aware of the simultaneous demonstrations in Portland and Seattle, and confirmed the ongoing negotiations for a new labor agreement.
"Our philosophy is to pay our employees fair, competitive wages and offer quality of life benefits that include health insurance, 401k contributions and flight benefits," the statement said. "As a rule, we do not elaborate on specifics during union negotiations."
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