Black Steward Spotlight: Peggy Riley

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My name is Peggy Riley and I am a Flight Attendant for Republic Airways.  I have been a Flight Attendant for 5 years and I am based in Louisville, Kentucky. Before becoming a Flight Attendant I retired on August 1, 2018 from Louisville Tourism (formerly The Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau), after 23 years as the Director of Southeast and Multicultural Sales. 

I have been a Teamster for 5 years.  To me being a Teamster means that I am a member of an elite organization that focuses on making sure that I, along with my Teamster Brothers and Sisters, are paid a fair and living wage; we have job security without prejudice; we receive good health and insurance benefits; are paid for all the time worked; and we receive retirement benefits that we have earned.

I decided to become a steward because I wanted to be a voice for our Flight Attendants and I wanted to make sure that we had a seat at the table with the company when it comes to making decisions that are important to us.

This is my first job where I am represented by a union.  I have siblings who retired from the postal service, and they were represented by a union. Because of them I learned what it was like to be a union member. My drive and fight comes from my siblings telling me about the benefits of being a union member, as well as having friends who worked for the airlines and served as union representatives.

I fight for others because we have a contract and we need to hold management accountable. We need to ensure that our contract is honored and we’re given everything we deserve while making money for the company.

It is important to celebrate Black History Month, because it spotlights and celebrates the accomplishments and achievements that African Americans have made in the history of our country and our unions. This is a way of spreading awareness and supporting our history. If I had my way, Black History Month would not be just celebrated in February, it would be celebrated every month.  We have done so much in the history of this country.

My parents taught me that to be successful, I had to make sure that #1, I got an education.  They also instilled in me the pride of making sure that whatever I did that I did it right and I worked hard and stayed focused, no matter how hard things got and no matter had many times I was told no. I am a go getter and if there is something that I truly want, such as becoming a Flight Attendant, I go after it.

Of the many leaders that inspire me to keep striving, are the late Civil Rights Icons Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rep. John Lewis. They were always getting into “Good Trouble.”   This “Good Trouble” has opened doors for me to achieve many of my goals and dreams.

If my colleagues want to support and understand African American history, do not be afraid to read books or watch movies and ask questions about slavery and civil rights. This is part of our history and to cancel this history and to pretend that slavery never happened, or that we do not need our civil rights protected, is a slap in the face of all African Americans. As Teamsters we should encourage diversity in leadership positions and mentor those who would like to move into these positions.

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