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American Airlines reaches new contract with passenger service agents

A passenger checks in Thursday at an American Airlines counter at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
A passenger checks in Thursday at an American Airlines counter at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. ogaines@charlotteobserver.com

American Airlines has reached a new contract agreement with its customer service and gate agents that includes significant pay raises, airline and union officials announced Wednesday.

The deal covers 14,500 passenger service agents and reservation representatives at the Fort Worth-based carrier represented by the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. It must be ratified by members.

“This is an industry-leading agreement that makes major improvements in the wages and benefits of thousands of passenger service employees at the new American Airlines,” Ron Collins, the unions’ bargaining chairman, said in a letter to members.

The contract includes an immediate pay raise that brings the agents’ wages equal to what Delta Air Lines pays its employees, plus 3 percent. There is an additional 9 percent wage increase over the life of the five-year contract.

Delta recently announced a 14 percent pay raise for its ground workers. American passenger service agents will see their pay increase by an average of 30 percent.

“Today’s tentative agreement provides significant pay raises to our team members while preserving jobs and facilitating growth,” said Kerry Philipovitch, American’s senior vice president for customer experience.

Under the old contract, starting pay for former US Airways passenger service agents was $9 to $10 an hour. American’s agents were not unionized. With the new contract, starting pay ranges from $11.05 to $13.48, depending on the position.

The employees work primarily in Texas, North Carolina, Florida and Arizona. Some agents are home-based.

The contract also guarantees no furloughs, although American has the option to outsource AAdvantage customer service, social media workers and curbside-check-in work. Workers who are on the payroll on the date the contract is signed will not have their jobs outsourced, Collins said.

Former US Airways employees will receive profit-sharing in 2015, as they did under a previous contract. But the profit-sharing plan will be eliminated starting in 2016 in exchange for higher wages.

All passenger service agents will get 12 sick days per year, and American will match dollar for dollar the first 5.5 percent of what employees contribute to a 401(k) retirement plan.

American agents, previously not unionized, voted in favor of being represented by the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters last September.

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