SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — A new petition asking American Airlines to keep its San Francisco flight attendant base open has drawn thousands of signatures in the past two weeks, according to the creator of the petition, Christian Torres.
A recent decision by American Airlines to close their SFO base and disperse staffers across the country has unsurprisingly drawn negative feedback from those impacted by the change. Torres, who is the son of an American Airlines employee, decided that those voices needed to be heard.
“I started this petition because we all feel like the decision by American Airlines is a slap in the face. I know I’m not the only one going through this, I know there’s 402 other families feeling the same thing that we do,” Torres told KRON4.
After receiving the notice from American Airlines in early September, all employees based here at SFO were expected to choose another home base within 10 days. The home base options given to employees included Dallas, Miami, Chicago, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Charlotte, North Carolina.
On Tuesday, American Airlines held a town hall for all of the employees who will be impacted by the shift. Torres’ father attended the meeting, and he says over 100 people were present. The employees had one goal: encourage American Airlines to offer more options to impacted employees, including early retirement.
Like many of the employees who are impacted by the decision to close the base, Torres’ father has been with American Airlines for decades. He says it felt like a punch in the gut when he first received the notice, “The way it was communicated systemwide instead of individually was not helpful.”
Though Torres’ father has been serving with American Airlines for over 20 years, he’s still too junior of an employee to earn a position at the Phoenix base. For now, he is expected to report to Dallas as of February 2023.
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According to Torres, American Airlines is considering all of the transfers to be voluntary so it will not reimburse employees for moving expenses. This means his father will need to get a new apartment in Dallas and commute back and forth from Texas every two weeks while his family stays here in California.
Torres’ father worries about his children’s future if he has to start commuting, “I have a freshman in high school, a senior in high school, and a child in college. This is home. It’s just not an option for me,” he told KRON4.
Fellow employees have shared their struggles with the decision as well. “I have coworkers with parents who are in their 80s nearby, they cannot pick up and go. Some moms have autistic children who can’t be left alone for days at a time,” Torres’ father tells KRON4.
Torres says he’s disappointed to see the shifts the company has gone through over the years. “About 10 or 15 years ago they had bases in Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose and LA…Now that they’re closing SFO, there’s only one base left, LA.” Flight attendants were not allowed to transfer to the base at LAX because American Airlines says it is already overstaffed.
Torres says he and others believe there’s a specific reason for the changes, “The way that employees in SFO are seeing it, (American Airlines) is trying to evade the labor laws in California because we’re offered generous labor laws regarding breaks, schedules, and time off, etc.”
When looking toward the future, Torres hopes that his petition will have an impact on how American Airlines moves forward. At the very least, he and his father are hopeful that American Airlines will provide more choices to their dedicated employees.
KRON4 reached out to American Airlines for comment on the matter, but the company did not immediately respond.