“Our Company has been sold!” Those are the scary and potentially devastating words I heard on the morning of September 27, 2010 at 6:50 A.M when I received a call from the AirTran Airways Vice President of Inflight informing me we were being acquired by Southwest Airlines. My name is Alison Head and, on that fateful day, I was the President of the Association of Flight Attendants Council 57 at AirTran Airways (AFA).
At 7:00 A.M., this information was being released to the media. My emotions consumed me at that moment, and I had a million questions. What was being acquired? Was it just our routes or equipment? What did this mean for the employees?
My next call was to my fellow Union officers and to my International Officers. I knew that having a Union gave us a seat at the table and without one, we would have to live with the decisions made by the Company regarding our future.
Having a Union provided us the opportunity to negotiate a fair seniority integration with a larger company. Negotiations between AFA Council 57 and TWU Local 556 produced a Tentative Agreement which our Flight Attendants voted to ratify with a huge majority. Without a union, there would have been no negotiation. There would have been no vote. Our seniority would have been determined by what Southwest Airlines deemed as “fair and equitable.”
We also had a crucial voice in crafting the agreement that governed the smooth transition of the AirTran Flight Attendants into the Southwest Airlines family. Having a union meant we had a negotiator, an attorney and an economist available to assist us. Having a union allowed us the opportunity to bargain for moving expenses, displacement, benefits, base assignments, uniforms, compensation for training, attendance point conversion and so much more. Without a union these conversations would have never happened, and we would have been at the whim of the Company acquiring us.
We are all proud of our Companies, but it is one of the realities of our industry that thousands of airline employees have been subjected to mergers or acquisitions that only protect the interests of their companies. I hope you never wake up to the news that your Company has been sold to another airline. If you do, please make sure that you, the Flight Attendants of Allegiant Air, have a Union that will protect your interests like the AFA and TWU did during the Southwest acquisition of AirTran. Today, I am proud to be a Southwest Airlines Flight Attendant and a Member of the Transport Workers Union, and I have the protections that I need!
Vote "YES" for TWU!
TWU Local 556 Member
Former President, AFA Council 57