Twenty-three U.S. senators and 117 U.S.
House members signed a letter authored by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA),
Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Congressman George Miller (D-CA)
urging United Airlines CEO Glenn Tilton to reconsider the company’s
decision to stop funding employee pension plans, which would put the
retirement of nearly 120,000 employees and retirees in jeopardy.
A portion of the lawmakers’ letter reads:
“While we understand that the airline faces difficult challenges in
emerging from bankruptcy, the employees and retirees have already agreed
to job reductions and significant concessions in their wages and benefits.
We strongly believe it is unfair to insist that their retirement security
be sacrificed as well.
“Earlier this year, Congress took specific action to protect airline
pension plans ... because we believed, based upon representations by you
and other airline executives, that this action was necessary to preserve
the pension funds. Now, a few months later, we learn that United may end
its pension obligations and jeopardize the retirement security of
thousands of families in our states and districts.”
The letter to Tilton underlines growing political concerns about the
impact United Airlines employee pension plan terminations could have on
the rest of the airline industry and ultimately on the overburdened
Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation.
“We are grateful for the overwhelming support from both the Senate and the
House on this crucial issue,” said United AFA Master Executive Council
President Greg Davidowitch. “United Airlines management must be held
accountable for their decision to skip pension payments and put in play a
domino effect of devastation for workers throughout the airline industry.
If these executives are unwilling to make good on promises to employees,
then our government must ensure that no stone is left unturned in working
to preserve the retirement counted on by over 100,000 United employees and
retirees, as well as the viability of our government’s pension guarantee
agency meant to protect millions of workers.”
More than 46,000 flight attendants, including the 21,000 flight attendants
at United, join together to form AFA, the world’s largest Flight Attendant
union. AFA is part of the 700,000 member strong Communications Workers of
America, AFL-CIO. Visit us at http://www.unitedafa.org/.