Let's Talk About our Careers
January 12, 2021
Over the past few years at our airline we’ve seen considerable change. Depending on your perspective, some of the change was received positively while others of it haven’t been received in the same way. Due to the differences in opinion, these changes and how we have all reacted to them have been interpreted by some to suggest we are at odds with each other as a work group. Nothing could be further from the truth. Diversity is part of our Union’s DNA which strengthens our collective and our resolve.
We are one community. One family of Flight Attendants, who like every family has our differences. Comparatively, perhaps never before in our memory has there been a time when so many Americans have had such broadly different opinions. As a result, the ability of most Americans to find common ground has become more challenging than ever. It’s hard for these types of differences not to spill over into every workplace. If we aren’t careful to safeguard that which we value in our relationship with each other, taking firm positions and closing our minds to other opinions leads to escalating tension in the workplace and, put simply, doesn’t serve any of us well.
The strongest and perhaps most basic concept we share is that we are “a crew.” Each of us is necessary; each of us plays a valuable part of every flight every time we go to work. Doing our personal best contributes to the success and safe operation of that flight.
As “a crew”, we instinctively take care of each other. We have each other’s back. In an emergency we work as a team to each do our part and get the job done. In security situations, we are each other’s eyes and ears and overtly or silently support one another towards our common goal of a positive outcome. In times of illness we collectively support the goal of stabilization and recovery of those who are entrusted to our care who may be ill or injured. On layover we check in with each other to be sure each of us is safe and accounted for. And on our watch, as time has shown, we give generously of ourselves to help our flying partners in need in times of crisis. Whether that may be during a natural disaster, a co-worker facing a health care diagnosis, or causes that are important to our collective such as Breast Cancer & Alzheimer’s Awareness, we come together and bring out the best in each other to support and care for one another.
It is this indominable spirit within each of us, our capacity to put ourselves in another person’s shoes when called upon, that sets us apart. This is an important reminder of who we are and it is essential that we guard against reacting to a perception of “wrongs” that one group may have done to another. There is real value in taking a deep breath, realigning our priorities and holding our tongue as we remember, we ultimately have mutually shared goals.
- We must defend our Contract. Our Contract contains provisions for mitigation of emergencies and tools to use in times of trouble. Sometimes, in extraordinary circumstances that could never have been anticipated during bargaining, we need to collectively look at the situation to determine the right course of action.
- We must be resolute in our commitment to one another that we protect and defend each of our flying partners, irrespective of any perceived differences we may have. In the same way we advocate for conflict resolution through EAP/PS instead of reporting to management. It can be argued, this is the same philosophy we should apply towards our effort in saving the jobs of each and every flying partner. We don’t always need to be right, or even always agree, but we do always need to stand together.
- We are in the midst of a horrific pandemic, where even the most favorable solutions are a choice between two “bad” options. This has and will be messy and despite the decisions we have been and will be forced to make, the outcome of these decisions may be perceived as unfair by some. All of this is temporary. And, while albeit not acceptable in normal times, while we know how important this job, this career is to each of us, we must also remember the value that comes from caring for each other. We must let the past be the past for now, and move forward together, recognizing the responsibility we have in protecting each other.
The pandemic has taken a toll on all of us and stretched available resources. The pandemic has stretched our capacity for generosity to the breaking point.
In a similar way, the politics of our nation this year, regardless of your personal beliefs, have likewise taken an enormous toll on our patience with one another. And the unprecedented furloughs and changes to our work environment have perhaps made us feel less secure and, more defensive. But we must not allow any of these challenges to change what is best inside each of us, at our core; as a crew, we leave no person behind.
Just as we would never leave one of our crewmembers on their own to face an emergency on the plane, we must not allow the pandemic, or politics or differences of opinion get between us as we stand together safeguarding our jobs and Contract protections that ensure we have not just a job, but a career that we are not only proud of, but that is worth having.
We must continue forward, together, through these challenges. We have an enormous opportunity in how we choose to do so. While we are not “against” the company, we do have competing agendas at times and their advocacy is not always in alignment with our unionist principals, values and beliefs. We must embrace the best within ourselves and despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles ahead at times, be supportive and protective of each other. There will be time enough to work though our challenges, together, once we are on the other side of what we must work through.