The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) is the world's largest labor Union organized by Flight Attendants for Flight Attendants. AFA-CWA represents over 40,000 Flight Attendants at 21 airlines, serving as a voice for Flight Attendants at their workplace, in the industry, in the media and on Capitol Hill. Simply put, the goal of Flight Attendants who become part of AFA-CWA is to negotiate better pay, benefits, working conditions and work rules at their airline, and to improve their safety on the job.
- AFA-CWA negotiates the best Flight Attendant Contracts in the industry, maintaining and improving wages, benefits and working conditions for Flight Attendants.
- AFA-CWA has strength in numbers and a professional staff to assist Flight Attendants with workplace, career and interpersonal concerns.
- AFA-CWA is a democratic Union representing Flight Attendants at every type of carrier. All AFA-CWA officers are Flight Attendants who solicit Member input on policy and financial decisions.
- AFA-CWA is the only Flight Attendant Union solely representing Flight Attendant's concerns affiliated with the AFL-CIO, the 13-million-Member American labor federation.
- AFA-CWA shares information and strategies, working in solidarity with Flight Attendant Unions around the world through the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF).
AFA-CWA policies, budgets and dues levels are set by AFA-CWA's democratically-elected Flight Attendant leaders. Copies of financial reports and the AFA-CWA Constitution and Bylaws are available to every Member upon request from their Local Council Officers.
Our Democratic Union
Our democratic process provides for direct Member election of the Local Council Presidents who represent us in each governing body of our Union. This system recognizes that every Member cannot be present at every meeting to deal with the issues facing the Union, and that every issue cannot be resolved by a show of hands or a Membership vote. If the Members are not satisfied with the decisions and direction taken by their elected leaders, they retain the right to vote those leaders out of office. As in all forms of representative democracy, the voters (Members) have the ultimate say.
Each Member of our Union plays a crucial role in our democracy and in determining our collective strength.
At Each Domicile - AFA Local Council
All Flight Attendants working for the same airline and assigned to the same domicile or modified co-terminal form the Local Council.
The President, Vice President and Secretary of each Council, elected by the Members of that Local Council to a three-year term, form the Local Executive Council (LEC).
The Council Reps are not mentioned in this paragraph because they are not part of the Local Executive Council -- they are elected officers, but they do not make up the Executive Council.
At Each Airline
All Local Council Presidents from the same airline form a Master Executive Council (MEC). The MEC elects a President, Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer for three-year terms, and handles negotiations and other business affecting Members at that airline.
At the National Level
The Board of Directors (BOD), the Union's highest governing body, consists of all AFA-CWA Local Council Presidents. The BOD amends AFA-CWA's Constitution and Bylaws, elects national officers, determines the annual budget and oversees all Union activities.
All MEC Presidents make up the Executive Board, which interprets policy and carries out decisions of the Board of Directors.
The BOD elects and advises the International Officers - the International President, Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer - who serve four-year terms and administer Union operations.
United Flight Attendant (AFA-CWA Member)
Local Executive Council (LEC)
- Local Executive Council President (LECP)
- Local Executive Vice President (LECVP)
- Council Representatives
Master Executive Council (MEC)
- Local Executive Council President (LECP) from each local Council
- Master Executive Council President
- Master Executive Council Vice President
- Master Executive Council Secretary-Treasurer
- Master Executive Council Committees
(Note: An MEC President who is not also a Local Council President shall vote only in the event of a tie, otherwise MEC Officers and MEC Committees only have a vote as individual AFA-CWA Members in their Local Council but do not play a voting role as Members of the MEC.)
Master Executive Council (International Office)
International Vice President
- International Secretary-Treasurer
- The AFA-CWA Board of Directors
Local Executive Council President (LECP) from 64 Councils at all airlines in AFA-CWA
Our AFA-CWA Dues Dollars--Working for Us
As part of the world's largest Flight Attendant Union, we are all AFA-CWA, and play an important role in the success of our Union. Still, financial resources are required to run our organization and to best benefit from the power of great numbers speaking as one. Elected officers, volunteers and staff at all three levels of our Union-Local, MEC and International-are dedicated to making sure we get the best representation in the industry.
- Our dues dollars provide a team of the industry's best Flight Attendant negotiators and attorneys dedicated only to United Airlines Flight Attendants, working to bring the best possible Contract, protect our wages, our benefits, and improve our working conditions.
- Our dues dollars get your voice heard on Capitol Hill. AFA-CWA's legislative advocates are constantly in touch with Members of Congress and their staff, working to make sure our issues are included in key pieces of legislation, and our rights are protected in others.
- Our dues dollars give you up-to-date communications on our Membership, workplace and industry. When Flight Attendants need to be in the news, AFA-CWA's communications specialists have direct contacts at the nation's largest newspapers and television networks.
Flight Attendant Certification
One of the original objectives of AFA-CWA’s Constitution and Bylaws was to achieve Flight Attendant Certification. In 2003, after exhaustive lobbying efforts, Congress passed an Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) Reauthorization Bill that includes provisions to certify Flight Attendants. This was an important milestone for all Flight Attendants as it better defines our status onboard the aircraft, to passengers and crew alike. Up to that point, all other work groups overseen by the FAA had been certified to perform their jobs upon completion of their training.
AFA-CWA hopes to continue building on the success of this victory to ensure many more safeguards and improvements for our profession, standardized as part of the certification. As Flight Attendants, we receive extensive safety training, are required to act as security personnel in the aircraft cabin and now we are recognized for this safety and security sensitive work with Certification that is not specific to carrier, but rather the licensed profession of a Flight Attendant. The government, our employers and the public must now recognize our Flight Attendant Certification and our primary role as safety professionals onboard the aircraft.
From 'Sky Girls' to Air Safety Professionals
In the 1930s, the first 'sky girls' or 'stewardesses' were considered temporary employees. They had to be registered nurses between the ages of 25 and 32, unmarried, without children and weigh no more than 115 pounds.
Stewardesses were paid low wages, with few benefits or job rights. At United Airlines, a group of forward-thinking stewardesses organized a Union to demand better pay and working conditions; they won their first Contract on April 25, 1946. Soon, others joined them.
In the 1960s, the Civil Rights and Women's Movements gave stewardesses new support against discriminating hiring practices. Their activism and Union participation, combined with Civil Rights laws and years of litigation, eliminated age, sex and marriage rules. Not until the 1970s the term 'stewardess' was replaced with 'Flight Attendant.'
Once part of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the Association of Flight Attendants became a separate, self-governing labor Union of Flight Attendants in 1974. On January 1, 2004, AFA-CWA merged with the Communications Workers of America. We are now a key part of this 700,000 Member Union, with more clout and solidarity then ever before.
Today, thanks to AFA-CWA's long history of activism and tenacity, Flight Attendants are both male and female, of any race, creed, or sexual orientation, we can be married or pregnant, and we can work as long as we like. We've come a long way from the early days of our profession, and we will continue to fight for improvements to our careers as air safety professionals.