When we stand together, we will always win. – Bernie Sanders
As I strive to use my voice to share and highlight the stories that shape the change happening around us, I could not go on without writing a few notes on the momentous occasion that’s upon us! I’m talking about Bob Ross, a flight attendant of 32 years, and the guy who’s fighting for all of the AA/US Legacy Airline Flight Attendants. I’m talking about making history. With a sweeping 70% of the votes, Bob was elected into presidency of the world’s largest single carrier flight attendant union on Thursday.
Without boring you too much with political details, I will just say that our previous union president hardly reflected the flight attendant population, and gave us a great snapshot of what corruption and greed looks like. An article at The Huffington Post correctly notes that CEO Doug Parker said profit sharing just isn’t the right way to pay 100,000 employees that “don’t have that much impact on the daily profits.” Doug Parker and our previous president, Laura Glading, are very close friends, and although we rallied and protested that she step down as union president last October, she now has a cushy position at American Airlines Headquarters. All of these happenings have discouraged a great number of flight attendants from wearing their APFA uniform pins at all.
However, Bob is a breath of fresh air. Willing to work with anyone and ready to represent everyone, he has promised to listen to our voices and to fight for what the people want. He even plans to take on Congress regarding the Railway Labor Act, last amended in 1936, to amend or lift its discriminatory and draconian restrictions on our rights to negotiate. This could change the way flight attendants and pilots are paid, which I’m a huge fan of.
But I’ve also had the rare opportunity to witness and observe Bob from another side, as he’s been working closely with my husband for the last few months. During that time, I’ve noted that Bob never plays dirty. I’ve noticed that he treats others fairly, and that he is willing to work hard to see positive results. In fact, when there is work to be done, I’ve noticed that his entire campaign team of volunteers are never hesitant to jump in and make it happen. He even has several friends who have vowed to keep Bob focused and grounded (mentally speaking!), no matter what or who pulls at him during his four-year term. Not only do I find Bob perfect for this position, I’ve noted that the people who stand with him are incredibly hard working, supportive, reasonable, big-hearted and appreciated– including my “ace in the hole” husband who Bob complimented as a technical magician at the celebratory gathering in Dallas last Thursday. Bob has let Angel know how valuable he is to the task at hand on many occasions.
So when Bob won the presidency, it was a victory for all of us. Many of us joined together to celebrate, including Gailen David of Savvy Stews! Many of us met some collaborators whom previously we only had the pleasure to meet on Facebook. We hugged, clinked our glasses, and shared stories. There was a lot of discussion about the work that lies ahead, and the need to reunite the flight attendants and union.
Finally, there seems to be a good reason for flight attendants to dust off their APFA pin and to wear it with pride once again.