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High Turnover and OT Spark Frustration at MIA

In Miami, Local 3146 President James McKnight and his team of Envoy passenger service agents and wheelchair attendants are on the front lines of customer service each and every day. We asked James to share the situation facing Local 3146 members at MIA. He told us the challenge for all agents is excessive overtime (OT) and the desperate need to hire more new agents as flight schedules gradually return to pre-pandemic levels.

 Can you describe what members are facing?

 “There is one word for the current situation: horrific. We have experienced massive overtime for two reasons: We are short on workers because of the pandemic, with people testing positive or having symptoms. At the same time, because the overtime hours have been so overbearing for everyone, we have been losing people left and right.”

 What steps has Envoy taken to address these problems?

 “The company has been aggressively hiring. Every Thursday for weeks I’ve been doing interviews and classes for new hires.”

 As a Local CWA president, what kinds of things are you sharing with new hires?

 “We always introduce ourselves to new people and explain what being part of a union is all about, what protections they get. But the work agents are asked to do is harder in the pandemic era, and our problem is turnover. We feel like we can’t get ahead.”

 How do you think the company is handling the problems?

 “They are in a desperate situation. A few days ago, management asked me and my TWU colleagues, as the union representatives, for suggestions about how we can retain workers. I can tell you that has never happened before.”

 Your team still needs more agents or the overtime problem won’t improve. What suggestions do you have for keeping more people?

“It’s not easy. New hires burn out quickly and they decide the stress level isn’t worth the compensation they get. I think management needs to recognize and appreciate the good work people are doing. Unfortunately, most of the time, we have a culture that worries only about the customer, not the employee serving the customer. When people feel appreciated, they will come back. This is the rule we live by when we try to treat customers with consideration, and it’s the same with workers.”

 Is there anything that makes you optimistic that things will improve?

 “I appreciate the fact that the company has invited us to the table to develop a partnership so that we can fix the errors that exist right now in the system. We are brainstorming with management to see what we can do to alleviate some of the pain and pressure people are experiencing. I hope we can do that.”