Last month a flight attendant for Compass Airlines (a regional carrier associated with Delta Airlines) was fired because, in an interview on a local Arizona television station, she revealed that her salary, despite a full-time schedule, was so low she had been approved for food stamps.
As Aero-News.net explains:
Kirsten Arianejad (the fired flight attendant–see her picture below) said she had requested anonymity from the reporter from Arizona television station KARE, a request she says he honored, but she soon found herself out of work none the less. Arianejad told the reporter that applying for government assistance was “a horrible feeling.” She said flight attendants should be paid a “fair wage,” and not have to go on food stamps to feed their families.
According to Aircrew Buzz.com:
Since late 2009, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) has represented the flight attendants at Compass Airlines, which conducts regional flying on behalf of Delta Air Lines. Currently, the AFA is engaged in contract negotiations with Compass Airlines for their first agreement. At present, Compass flight attendants are paid at or near the minimum wage with a starting flight attendant annually making between $13,842 ($1,153.50/month) and $15,453 ($1,287.75/month), according to the union. That would make most Compass flight attendants eligible for assistance.
So—get this—we have a system where companies can not only get away with paying their workers incredibly low wages, they can fire those workers if they openly speak about how low the wages are.
Arianejad’s situation is sadly typical. As AvStop.com notes:
While regional carriers now operate over 50 percent of daily commercial flying, they continue to pay poverty-level wages to flight attendants and other employees. Many flight attendants from various regional carriers find it difficult to provide for themselves and their families.
I wish Compass flight attendants the best of luck as they try to negotiate their first contract with the airline. Perhaps they can win an honesty and transparency clause as well as a wage increase.