After the union that represents the US Airways flight attendants (the
Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO) filed a lawsuit to stop the
illegal process used in the involuntary furlough of 552 flight attendants,
airline management agreed to expedited arbitration to resolve the issue.
“We already fought this battle with management once and won,” said AFA US
Airways Master Executive Council President Perry Hayes. “Management could
make the operation of its airline a lot easier by working with its
employees on tough issues, rather than fighting us on everything.”
In December, US Airways management announced that it was involuntarily
furloughing 552 flight attendants. According to the collective bargaining
agreement between AFA and US Airways, before flight attendants are
involuntarily furloughed, the airline must first offer a voluntary
furlough. Once, during a furlough in June 2003, management attempted to
by-pass the voluntary process but was ultimately forced to follow the
contract after an arbitrator ruled in favor of the flight attendants in an
“Management agreed to this voluntary process as part of the restructuring
contract in which flight attendants sacrificed over $101 million per year
to help save this airline,” Hayes said. “It`s in particularly bad taste
for airline management to break the deal in which the flight attendants
gave so much to the airline at the expense of their own families.”
On Jan. 8 AFA filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western
District of Pennsylvania. After the suit was filed, management agreed to
expedited arbitration of the dispute.
The arbitration will be heard on Jan. 14 before any of the furloughs
begin. If AFA prevails, US Airways will have to first offer a voluntary
furlough before anyone is involuntarily put on the street. If not enough
flight attendants apply for a voluntary furlough then the remaining
furloughs will be made through the involuntary process.
More than 45,000 flight attendants, including the 5,200 flight attendants
at US Airways, join together to form AFA, the world`s largest flight
attendant union. AFA is an affiliate of the 700,000 member strong
Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO.