TEAMSTER: Yancy Abarquez
Worksite: American Airlines, San Francisco International Airport
Years on the job: 18
Job title: Customer Service Coordinator
How he got started: "I started with Reno Air and then American Airlines bought Reno Air and that's how my career started. My stepbrother worked for United Airlines as a mechanic and we always used to go travel. That's how I was encouraged to get into the airline industry. I was l like, 'I need to start working in the airline industry so I can travel a lot!' I stayed at least six months at the ticket counter, then I found out about different departments. I was interested in cargo. I stayed there for the rest of my career, and then I transferred back to passenger service in 2013."
Working at the Airport: "The way we have it at San Francisco, it's divided into two work areas—either the ticket counter or the gates. My first year back in customer service I chose the counter to get familiar with the operation, then I switched to the gate. To me, the gate is more challenging because you see a lot more personalities during the boarding area. Even famous personalities and local politicians."
Pre-Union at American Airlines: "In 2010, I was on military leave when American outsourced the cargo department, because of that I was protected. The rest of my colleagues got laid off. I knew one guy, he had 32 years straight with American Airlines Cargo in San Francisco. All he got was a separation check and a cupcake from Safeway."
Forming a Union: "In 2014 US Airways and American merged. [and we had a election to determine if the newly merged company would be union]. After seeing the customer service department in cargo laid off with no protection, it really made me think that we need to have a union. We're not trying to pick a fight. We're trying to stand up for our rights. We don't have rights without a union representing us."
On being a Teamster: "I'm glad for the representation. I'm so happy about it. We now have a voice. As Teamsters, it's really great that we can bring things to management's attention, like 'You're doing this wrong. We have a contract, that's what it says in black and white.' There will be some times that we have to compromise, but you know, as long as you're following the contract, we should be good. That's what I'm grateful for, this representation for the agents."