Hard Work. Sincerity. Commitment.
For those of you who do not know me, my name is Unwav Dante Harris. Most Flight Attendants just know me as "Dante". Part of my first name - ‘Unwav’ comes from the word "Unwavering" which means unbendable perseverance or strong determination. My mother came up with that name because I was born almost 4 weeks late. She knew early on that I would be a determined individual. Well, she was right! I was determined then and I am determined now!
Growing up in New York, my father was a bus driver and Union Shop Steward for the Amalgamated Transit Union. At an early age, I listened to him talk about grievances, pay issues, and the labor movement in America. I can honestly say... that is where I got my passion for unionism! I consider myself a trade Unionist without a doubt. Ironically, my mother was a manager for Verizon who worked on the opposite side of the table against CWA! What a combination. I grew up listening to both sides of an argument - Union & Management. That is what made me the Union man I am today. I knew my place was the labor movement. The working middle class is what makes this country run. We are the backbone of America.
I have been a United Airlines Flight Attendant for nearly 17 years. Immediately following new hire orientation, I got involved in union activities by joining the local Reserve Committee. Shortly thereafter, I became the Reserve Committee Chairperson. Over time I got even more involved by serving on other committees such as Grievance, Government Affairs, and Communications. In 2004, I was elected LEC Secretary for Council 11. During my term as Secretary, I changed the face of Council 11 by fixing the budgetary problems, updating/automating office procedures, and created a local website. Three different Presidents along with other seasoned AFA activists mentored me during my first 10 years as an activist and now I consider myself a mentor.
In 2011, I was elected LEC President of Council 12 in Los Angeles and now concluding my second term. As President I have many collateral duties. I am a member of the United Master Executive Council (MEC) and the AFA-CWA Board of Directors (BOD) which is the highest governing body of the Union. I was also elected to serve on the AFA-CWA Strategic Planning Committee and the Finance Committee. I also serve on the AFA-CWA Board of Directors Budget Committee. In addition, I am a voting delegate to the CWA Convention, CWA District 9, California Labor Federation-AFL-CIO, and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. All of these responsibilities are integral to the broader labor movement, coalition building, and building a stronger voice for our profession as Flight Attendants.
The Union can only be as good as the engaged membership and the people you elect to represent you.
"I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers"
- Ralph Nader
In 2005, I was a candidate for International Secretary-Treasurer. Although I was unsuccessful, it was a great learning experience and marked the beginning of the Next Generation of Leadership willing and able to step in. My main purpose in that election was to encourage and motivate young new leaders to get involved in the major workings of our Union. In 2010, I served as Chairperson of the CWA International Next Generation Committee and member of the AFA International Next Generation Committee. Our committee’s goal was to continue the movement by helping locals identify and mentor young leaders in an effort to build our union. The seasoned union leaders won’t be around forever and that is why the Next Generation is so important to our careers and our profession.
Leadership is action, not position.
-Donald H. McGannon
Over the last 16 years I have not only gained on-the-job practical experience, I took advantage of many training opportunities to prepare me for the future in the role as a next generation leader. AFA International and the National Labor College offered most of the training I have completed. The following is a list of training I received in the last 16 years:
- Reserve Committee Training (UAL MEC)
- Communications/Media Training (UAL MEC)
- Insurance & Retirement Training (UAL MEC)
- Workers Compensation Training (UAL MEC)
- LEC 101 (UAL MEC)
- Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Training (AFA Int’l)
- Professional Standards Training (AFA Int’l)
- Leadership Training (AFA & National Labor College)
- Advanced Leadership (AFA & National Labor College)
- Mobilization & Organizing Training (CWA)
- Secretary-Treasurer Conference/Training (AFA Int'l)
- Advanced Secretary-Treasurers Conference/Training (AFA Int’l)
- Grievance Training (UAL MEC)
- Advanced Grievance (UAL MEC)
- Initial Grievance Handling (AFA Int’l & National Labor College)
- Advanced Grievance Handling (AFA Int’l & National Labor College)
- Ethics in Decision Making (National Labor College)
- Labor History (National Labor College)
- Government Affairs (UAL MEC)
- Grievance Arbitration (CWA District 9)
- Contract Negotiations (CWA District 9)
- Interest Based Dispute Resolution (AFA/UAL/Active Arbitrator)
- Conflict Resolution (AFA International)
- Speech Writing/Public Speaking (CWA District 9)
- Minority Leadership Institute Graduate
"And remember this: if you ever think you're too small to be effective -- you've never been in bed with a mosquito."
- Anita Roddick
I believe when a leader takes office, the primary goal is to serve the members while mentoring others to know how to do it when the time comes. I know I won’t be President forever and that is why I believe so strongly in mentoring. In my time as President I have created a Leadership/Mentorship atmosphere for Council 12. How can anyone automatically know how to properly run a local Union office if one was not mentored or shown the way? I was given direction and shown the way for over 10 years and now I am paying it forward. This is how we build our Union. The Union is a business…the business is representing the members’ interests. The position of President is not entry level. Experience is the only preparation for the office which is part of the highest governing body of the Union.
“Knowledge alone is not enough to get desired results. You must have the more elusive ability to teach and to motivate. This defines a leader, if you can’t teach and you can’t motivate, you can’t lead.”
- John Wooden
We achieved what many thought was impossible...A joint collective bargaining agreement. Flight Attendants in Los Angeles need a leader who has the experience and tenacity to lead our council through the next phase of our careers. There are many components to running a Union Local and it requires knowledgeable, dedicated, and passionate leaders. Anyone can take the helm of a ship in calm seas but it takes strong leadership, practical knowledge and determination to weather the storm. I am just one person with strong determination, unbendable perseverance, and unwavering tenacity. I believe I have a proven record here in Los Angeles.
There is not much time left to make your decision! Voting closes on Tuesday December 13, 2016 at 12:00 Noon Pacific Daylight Time!
DANTE HARRIS for PRESIDENT
Hard Work. Sincerity. Commitment