Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

Americans adore making money.

Many respect it above all things. 

If you're rich, you're to be admired. Until, that is, you do something that makes people tweet bad things about you.

Which brings me to American Airlines. 

Its CEO, Doug Parker, is fond of profit. He believes that taking things away from passengers can bring dividends.

He also, some are saying, appears to believe that paying some of his employees a pittance is excellent business.

The Dallas Morning News this week presented a painful exposé that recounted the lifestyles of workers at Irving, Texas-based Envoy Air.

You might know this American Airlines-owned company -- it's American's biggest subsidiary -- by its brand name: American Eagle.

It flies regional jets all over America. 

It also has employees on food stamps.

Indeed, 75 percent of Envoy's employees are, according to a Communication Workers of America survey, making less than $13 an hour.

They start on as little as $9.48 an hour. They get a $1 raise after a year. 

For the next 10 years, however, there are no guarantees.

They don't have a collective bargaining agreement.

You might think this is all about being competitive. That's what Envoy's management seems to claim.

But it's American Airlines that sets the terms. It's the one that decides on American Eagle's schedule and its ticket prices.

And where do you think the revenue goes? Why, to American Airlines.

For his part, Parker has boasted that American will never lose money again, just as he's trying to shove more seats onto more planes at seemingly any cost to passenger comfort.

But now, more than 80 members of Congress have realized just how little American pays thousands of its employees. 

The Congresspeople have written a letter to Parker. The text might be summarized as: "You're paying these people how much?"

I contacted American to ask for its view of this troubling situation.

I was passed straight to an Envoy spokeswoman, who told me: "Envoy and CWA representatives have worked collaboratively toward an initial collective bargaining agreement for our passenger service agents. We will continue to negotiate in hopes of reaching terms for a mutually agreeable collective bargaining agreement. Out of respect for the integrity of the collective bargaining process, it's not appropriate to comment on the status of any provisions under discussion at this time."

Some might find it odd that American seeks a mutually agreeable agreement when it appears that, for a very long time, the inequity between management and workers has appeared a touch disagreeable.

Published on: Feb 25, 2018
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