For the first part of Marlene Gerken’s nearly 25-year career in the airline industry, she was a union member, but when her former employer, TWA, merged with American Airlines in the early nineties, she and her colleagues were left without union representation.
However, that changed when US Airways, a company where employees were union, merged with American Airlines in 2013. The following year, in a nationwide referendum, passenger services agents at the combined airline overwhelmingly voted have union representation for nearly 15,000 covered employees. And last month, the members ratified their first Teamster contract.
Gerken, a newly elected shop steward at the San Francisco Airport, says she’s glad to be union once again. “The contract gives us structure,” she said. “Especially with the merger, it’s important that we’re all on the same page and have a way to remedy any differences.”
She said her co-workers are also pleased with their new contract, as it includes substantial wage increases (a 30% average initial increases, and 9% over the life of the agreement), job protections, more flexibility when choosing overtime shifts, increases to premium pay, and more.
Teamsters 856 members work at the San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland and Sacramento Airports.