MINNEAPOLIS -- Dozens of flight attendants spent an early Tuesday afternoon picketing for higher wages. Among them, was Phoenix-based flight attendant Kirsten Arianejad, who says she was recently fired from Compass Airlines after telling a television reporter she was "on food stamps."
"I applied, sent my paperwork in and was approved," Arianejad told KARE 11. "It was just a horrible, horrible feeling. We should be paid a fair wage, we shouldn't have to ask the government for help," she explained. Arianejad says she granted an interview to a local station in Arizona after the journalist agreed to conceal her identity; a requested he honored.
A Compass spokesperson responded to KARE's request for comment by writing, in part: "As a matter of corporate police, Compass Airlines does not comment publicly on personnel matters. The company has comprehensive policies and disciplinary procedures in place under which employees are terminated and those procedures were correctly followed in this instance."
The Association of Flight Attendants, which represents 50,000 union members, will hold similar pickets protesting low wages at airports across the country in the coming weeks. "It's an unsustainable wage; it's not a living wage at all. It's below poverty and it qualifies for government assistance, which is abhorrent," AFA spokesperson Bill McGlashen said. "We see them as low as $13,000/$12,000 per year. I think she exposed that and I guess it hit a nerve," McGlashen added.
Compass says it is currently in contract negotiations with the Association of Flight Attendants. The spokesperson wrote: "As such, our full focus is on reaching a fair and equitable agreement with the leadership of that union despite any actions they may take outside of the bargaining table."
Arianejad hopes she'll get her job back. She is also hoping for a wage increase for her and her colleagues. "I just want to be able to feed my family and to be able to actually live a little, not just exist," she concluded.
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