I guess this is what happens when Philadelphia Eagles fans are allowed to sling bags.
For a long time, Philly has been a nightmare of a baggage problem for US Airways. You may remember a couple winters ago when they had the meltdown at Christmas and tons of bags were lost. After that incident, the airline blamed the workers for walking out on the job, but it was later determined that management had left the airport severely understaffed.
That, in a nutshell, explains the oh-so-terrible labor relations at the old US Airways. Now that America West has taken over, they’re trying to right the ship, but it’s going to be a long road. Yesterday’s article in the Philadelphia Inquirer took a look inside the baggage operation for US Airways in Philly, and it found some pretty ugly stuff. Try this one for starters:
While most US Airways veterans are white, many recent hires are African American. Often, the two groups hang out in different break rooms. Some white workers won’t help pay for DirecTV in one break room, complaining that the set is always tuned to BET.
“The issues are generational, but they manifest themselves racially,” a veteran said. “It’s pretty ugly.”
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You’ll have to read the article to get an accurate impression of life at US Airways, but definitely keep in mind that it does seem a bit sensationalized.
Even with that in mind, this is a pretty ugly story. It’s a great example of why taking over US Airways won’t be as smooth for America West as it has seemed so far. The old US Airways employees are angry over pay cut after pay cut, and the change in way of life. As the article notes, working on the ramp used to be a good job you could have for life. Now, it’s considered something for people to do for a few years and then get out. The pay is much less, and that is reflected in the quality of the new hires. Apparently, the pay had even been cut too much, because the new America West management has already raised wages since taking over. This clash between older, highly skilled workers and green new hires is indicative of the difficulty the airline will face in trying to merge these workforces. Even they decide to operate the airlines separately, the problems will remain.
It’s going to take someone who can command respect in Philly to turn that ship around. They’ve gone through so many senior leaders over the years that finding someone who will simply stay around for a couple years might be considered a victory in itself.