Sun Country Flight Attendants gathered outside of Terminal 2 of the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport today, demanding fair wages and a contract that reflects the post-pandemic economy.
This is the third time the employees have held an informational picket to draw attention to a contract that hasn’t seen any major changes since 2014. Bargaining was paused for 19 months due to the pandemic; since bargaining resumed in October 2021, flight attendants say Sun Country management has failed to bring their contract up to industry standards.
“We deserve to be paid what everybody else is paid. We do a good job. We take care of our passengers. And it would make everyone very happy if we could get an industry standard wage. We don't even want Delta pay or anything like that. We just want to be paid what we're worth,” said Sun Country Flight Attendant Cheryl Adamson.
New flight attendants start at $21/hour. Flight attendants say this isn’t a livable wage, but being on-call makes it impossible to maintain a second job.
Sun Country flight attendants say they are told their pay clock doesn’t begin until the plane’s boarding door closes – and stops when the plane’s boarding door opens. With flight delays, this can mean working for hours without pay. Any tasks left to the flight attendants after the plane lands and the boarding door opens are done without pay as well. Meanwhile, flight attendants point out that Sun Country recently reported record earnings.
A tentative agreement was sent out this past May by the company and was rejected by 96% of its flight attendants. Flight attendants says the company’s push back on wages shows that Sun Country’s employees are not being met with the same commitment they have made – referring to the voluntary leave many employees took during the pandemic to help keep the company afloat.
“I'm just thinking if the company brought us something good back. It would bring the morale up of this group. This group has been beaten down for a long time. They deserve better,” said flight attendant of 32 years, Tanya DeVito. “We're here to let the company know that we mean business. We want a fair and profitable-to-everybody contract, and the ball is in their court.”
Sun Country employs more than 600 flight attendants. The airline said in a statement that it is committed to working with the union and the National Mediation Board to reach an agreement.
Flight attendant LaNeia Huberty says if they don’t, not only will nothing change, but they will continue to see great employees leave.
“They want to stay here. They love the culture. They love the flight attendant group. They love Sun Country Airlines. But they have to quit. They have to leave because they just can't afford it, and that's sad. It would mean keeping great flight attendants. There's so many that have left that would have loved to stay, and we would have loved to have,” said Huberty.
The mediation process is anticipated to take many months. Sun Country flight attendants say they worry a new agreement may not be reached until this summer.