US Airways Forced to Allow Voluntary Furloughs

16th Jan 2004

US Airways flight attendants, represented by the Association of Flight
Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO, won a major victory yesterday after an arbitrator
ruled that the airline had improperly furloughed 552 flight attendants.

“With 552 jobs and the integrity of our contract on the line, this is an
enormous victory for our flight attendants,” said AFA US Airways Master
Executive Council President Perry Hayes. “US Airways treatment of our
flight attendants during this furlough is just another example of
management`s blatant disregard for our contract and our rights. Since the
arrival of CEO Dave Siegel and CFO Neil Cohen, management has focused more
on harassing employees rather than getting this airline back on track.”

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. The flight attendants filed a lawsuit on Jan. 8 to stop the
illegal process. The next day, airline management agreed to expedited
arbitration to resolve the issue before the furloughs became effective on
Jan. 15.

US Airways management has made a public spectacle of asking for employee
cooperation in turning the airline around. At the same time, management
has set off this clash over furloughs, as well as a number of other
disputes over issues related to the flight attendant reserve system, sick
leave, medical benefits, and cuts in the amount of time flight attendants
are credited for working.

The groundwork for yesterday`s victory was laid last summer when
management attempted to bypass the voluntary process but was ultimately
forced to follow the contract after an arbitrator ruled in favor of the
flight attendants in an expedited process.


US Airways must now determine how it will comply with the arbitrator`s
ruling and the flight attendant contract. AFA believes that the airline
should allow at least 15 days for flight attendants to bid for the
voluntary furloughs. If not enough flight attendants apply for a voluntary
furlough, then the remaining furloughs will be made through the
involuntary process.
By adhering to the contract and conducting a voluntary furlough, workers
with more seniority can elect to take a pre-determined amount of time off,
in order to prevent the workers at the bottom of the seniority list from
being put out on the street without a choice.

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 part of the 700,000 member strong Communications
Workers of America, AFL-CIO.


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