A major regional airline that provides services on behalf of American Airlines, Delta and United, as well as Alaska Airlines, has allegedly ‘illegally’ fired two whistleblower flight attendants who flagged concerns about a ‘serious security flaw’ in an internal computer system.
The two veteran flight attendants, Shane Price and Tresa Grange are also ‘outspoken’ union activists and had been organizing other flight attendants at Utah-based Skywest Airlines until they were terminated on September 13.
The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) now claims that firing Shane and Tresa was a form of ‘illegal retaliation’ that is forbidden under the Railway Labor Act.
“The AFA Legal Department is immediately addressing management’s illegal actions and we will not allow the company’s retaliation against our coworkers to stand,” wrote Sarah Nelson, president of the flight attendant union, in an open letter to Skywest late last week.
Nelson has already managed to convince thousands of Skywest flight attendants to sign union authorization cards in a bid to force a formal vote, but Skywest has resisted the drive unionization and has introduced its own internal voting system.
Shane and Tresa spoke out about apparent vulnerabilities in this voting system, but rather than acting on their concerns, the union claims Skywest is attempting to ‘deflect the blame’ on them.
“These terminations are an attack on all SkyWest Flight Attendants, and workers everywhere,” Nelson slammed. “Part of the standard anti-union playbook is trying to intimidate workers, but that’s not happening here! SkyWest management will soon learn that they must deal with the 50,000 members of AFA and, in fact, the entire labor movement.”
In May, Skywest became only the second airline in the United States to pay flight attendants for passenger boarding and deplaning.
The regional carrier now pays flight attendants a quarter of their normal hourly rate during boarding, while flight attendants at nearly every other U.S. carrier only start getting paid their hourly rate when the boarding is closed and the airplane has pushed back from the gate.
The only other U.S. airline to offer flight attendants boarding pay is Delta Air Lines – which is also facing a unionization drive by the Association of Flight Attendants.
The AFA did not detail how it planned to challenge Shane and Tresa’s termination, but enforcement through the Railway Labor Act must go through the Federal courts, which may slow down any legal case.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.