Late United Airlines contract draws worldwide protest

Late United Airlines contract draws worldwide protest

United Airlines Flight Attendants, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO (AFA-CWA), are conducting a worldwide protest because United Airlines management failed to negotiate a new contract on time. Over the past seven years, flight attendants have shouldered over three billion dollars in concessions affecting pay, working conditions and healthcare in addition to the termination of their pensions. Those cuts should have ended today as the contract becomes amendable.

“Negotiations began last April, but United has shown no interest in discussing improvements or reaching a new contract unless we agree to concessionary demands,” said Greg Davidowitch, president of AFA-CWA at United Airlines. “Flight attendants are angry because management seems only interested in delaying a new contract, refusing to discuss any improvements.”

“Every day past our amendable date, a new Collective Bargaining Agreement becomes more expensive,” stated Karen Mazuer, chairperson of the union negotiating committee. “Management needs to abandon their delay tactics and get down to the business of negotiating a new flight attendant contract.”

Negotiations began early on April 6, 2009 as part of an agreement between the union and the company with the intention of having a new flight attendant contract in place by January 7, 2010—but to date management has not even presented a full contract proposal. A federal mediator, assigned by the National Mediation Board, joined the negotiations shortly after the union and company filed for mediation in August under the same contractual provision to negotiate early and have a new agreement in place by today. Outside of the mediation sessions, flight attendants have offered to meet with the company any time—7 days week, 24 hours a day. Management has refused to negotiate even a single hour outside of the mediated sessions.

Flight attendants are working at 1994 wage levels in the year 2010 and they are working 48% more compared with 2002 schedules and staffing. AFA-CWA members are angry that management has not discussed the improvements envisioned, seeming only interested in delaying a new contract for flight attendants. Just last month the union concluded its strike preparedness seminars, conducted around the world to provide members the information needed for personal preparations for a strike should it become necessary.

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“For too long this management has expected flight attendants to work harder for less. No more!” stated Davidowitch. “We will not reach agreements that have us paying for needed contractual improvement in some areas through the wholesale destruction of other provisions. This is just the first of our public protests. Flight attendants vow to do Whatever It Takes to get the contract we have earned.”

Flight attendants are protesting today in Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Denver, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Las Vegas, London, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Tokyo-Narita and Washington DC. Protest details and a copy of a leaflet distributed to passengers is available at www.unitedafa.org.

More than 55,000 flight attendants, including the 15,000 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 www.unitedafa.org.