As a Base Representative and shop steward of TWU, I am able to sit in on many meetings to help fairly represent our Flight Attendant work group. I believe all of our Flight Attendants need fair representation, and that is not always a “given” in a disciplinary meeting. But I feel there have been many times I’ve helped and guided Flight Attendants so they are able to keep their jobs in good standing.
The hardest part of being a base representative and shop steward is when I feel there is little I can do for a Flight Attendant. All of us have been through extensive training, and we are well versed in our work rules. We know the difference between wrong and right. We know that cellphone usage on the plane is prohibited, yet many of us become complacent and comfortable around our co-workers. In situations where I have to sit in a disciplinary meeting with a Flight Attendant who knows they should not have been on their phone, it puts me in a situation where I am unable to help them. This is heartbreaking for me, because I want to be able to help our Flight Attendants; but when they are blatantly disregarding the rules, I can do little to help them. While we know that many of our coworkers do bend or break the rules, when you are in a meeting that could result in disciplinary action, “Everyone does it.” is not an acceptable defense.
We are fighting hard to negotiate a fair contract for our Flight Attendants that will not only provide fair compensation, but also the protection of a Grievance Process to appeal unfair discipline. That being said, the best defense in any situation is to do our jobs to provide a safe and pleasant travel experience for our coworkers and customers. I urge our members to be prove every day why we deserve a fair contract by complying with all company policies and FAA regulations every day on the job. Abiding by the rules will always secure your job; the union is merely there to make sure the company is fair. Let’s encourage good behavior because the best representative of our Union is a good Flight Attendant.