United Attendants Refuse to Sign

Just as the concessionary contract agreed to by United Airlines management
last spring finally arrived in the offices of the carrier`s flight
attendant union, United management announced its intent to illegally cut
retiree health benefits and raise retiree out of pocket costs, raising
legal issues significant enough to jeopardize the signing of the
concessionary agreement by union President Patricia Friend.

“I am not taking any action, including signing the contract, that could be
perceived as affirming the validity of the illegal cuts United wants to
make,” said Friend, President of the Association of Flight Attendants -
CWA, AFL-CIO. “The court of public opinion will decide if United is
morally and ethically bankrupt. We are going to fight in bankruptcy court
and through every other legal means possible to make sure United lives up
to the contract it agreed to so these devastating cuts don`t happen.”
Attorneys for the flight attendants say United management`s deceitful
actions call into question the product and validity of the concessionary
negotiations. AFA is considering a number of legal actions in addition to
not signing the contract, including: asking the bankruptcy court to set
aside the 1113 relief (the concessionary contract approved by the court
last May), a bad faith bargaining suit, a motion to compel United to allow
people to return to work who retired after United agreed to limit the
health care costs of retirees, and asking the bankruptcy court to appoint
an examiner to investigate management`s duplicitous actions.

AFA representatives and management have worked together to finalize
contract language and get the contract printed since the deal was agreed
to last May. Final contract language was delivered to AFA`s office in
Washington, DC for the required signature of AFA`s International President
just last week.
As part of that deal, United management signed a letter of agreement in
May 2003 to ensure that flight attendants retiring before July 1, 2003
would have access to health care benefits that were less costly and more
comprehensive than those that would be in place for those who retire after
that date. Based on that promise, over 2,500 flight attendants retired
before the July 1 deadline.

United is now seeking to slash the medical benefits and significantly
raise the out-of-pocket costs for those retirees despite the airline`s
return to profitability. The cuts are not necessary for United`s
successful reorganization.

“People I worked with for 30 years retired because the deal United
management made was to limit health costs to those who retired before July
1, 2003,” said Friend. “Now those dedicated workers won`t be able to
afford health care, or retirement, without government assistance because
of the lawlessness and callousness United is displaying by reneging on
that deal.”
AFA has received hundreds of calls from retirees asking if anything can be
done through the courts to help protect them. All say they cannot afford
the massive financial hit they will take after United forces them to pay
hundreds of dollars per month of their already modest pensions just to
continue health insurance.
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/.