American Airlines, the world's largest carrier, is enjoying strong financial results, but service agents who work for a subsidiary carrier say they aren't sharing in that wealth.
A survey of 900 workers at regional carrier Envoy Air found that 27% of those who responded said they must accept food stamps and other public assistance to make ends meet. Other workers say they are forced to buy out-of-date food, borrow from retirement accounts and even sell blood to get by.
Envoy Air operates under the brand name American Eagle. American Airlines reported $1.9 billion in net profits for 2017.
A union representing Envoy's service agents has launched a social media campaign to highlight the workers' claims and to put pressure on American during contract negotiations, which have lasted nearly two years.
The workers, some of whom are paid as little as $9.48 an hour, rallied last week at airports in Phoenix, Philadelphia, Orlando, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C.
The social media campaign features video interviews with workers, including a sobbing woman who said she works so many hours that she doesn't have time to spend with her family.
"I talk to some of my coworkers, and sometimes I bring groceries for them because they have nothing to eat," said the service agent, identified as Angelica Gutierrez.
A spokeswoman for Envoy declined to comment on the campaign, saying, "Out of respect for the integrity of the collective bargaining process, it's not appropriate to comment on the status of any provisions under discussion at this time."