Flight Attendant Gets Fired For Saying She Qualifies For Food Stamps


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Flight Attendant Gets Fired For Saying She Qualifies For Food Stamps

By Jim Douglas

August 28, 2010 - A Compass Airlines flight attendant, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA), was terminated on Thursday after publicly revealing she qualified for foods stamps. Despite a full-time schedule, flight attendant Kirsten Arianejad was recently featured in a local television interview announcing that she had been approved for food stamps in order compensate for her low wages. 

"Poverty is not a crime and it is despicable that Compass Airlines would fire an employee for speaking the truth,? said Patricia Friend, AFA-CWA International President. ?Unfortunately, there are flight attendants across the country who have to rely on federal and state assistance to make ends meet. 

Instead of paying hardworking flight attendants a living wage, airline management would rather shame them and make them fear for their jobs. We call on Compass to immediately reinstate Kirsten Arianejad."


While regional carriers now operate over 50 percent of daily commercial flying, they continue to pay poverty-level wages to flight attendants and other employees. Many flight attendants from various regional carriers find it difficult to provide for themselves and their families. 

Compass flight attendants are paid at or near the minimum wage with a starting flight attendant annually making between $13,842 ($1,153.50/month) and $15,453 ($1,287.75/month).  The maximum income level to qualify for food stamps in Arizona for an individual is $1,671, making most flight attendants eligible for assistance. 

Compass flight attendants, who joined AFA-CWA in November 2009, are currently in contract negotiations for their first agreement.  Compass Airlines, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Trans States Holdings, Inc., conducts regional flying for Delta Air Lines. 

Compass Airlines is a regional airline headquartered on the grounds of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in Fort Snelling, unincorporated Hennepin County, Minnesota. It is a subsidiary of Trans States Holdings that began flying a single Bombardier CRJ200LR aircraft under the Northwest Airlink (now Delta Connection) brand between Minneapolis/St. Paul and Washington, D.C. on May 2, 2007. On August 21, 2007, it began flying two Embraer 175 76-passenger aircraft, with a planned fleet of 36 aircraft by December, 2008. 


Compass Airlines was formed as a result of a contract dispute between Northwest Airlines and its pilots union, the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA), due to a "scope clause" in the Northwest pilot contract, intended in its collective bargaining agreement to protect jobs and pay of those flying aircraft of 76 passenger seats or less. 

For over 60 years, the Association of Flight Attendants has been serving as the voice for flight attendants in the workplace, in the aviation industry, in the media and on Capitol Hill.  More than 50,000 flight attendants at 22 airlines come together to form AFA-CWA, the world?s largest flight attendant union. AFA is part of the 700,000-member strong Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFL-CIO.


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