United Airlines AFA MEC Website

Association of Flight Attendants-CWA United Master Executive Council

Retirement Plan Equal Contributions

Date: July 22, 2016
Type: AFA Article

Retirement Equalization

Equalizing company expenditures
Protecting retirement benefits

Defending Retirement Benefits
A priority in these negotiations was protecting retirement benefits for current members. That meant keeping the defined benefit plans for those working under the CAL and CMI contracts and increasing the defined contribution for those working under the UAL contract. We also fought hard to ensure current contractual retiree medical options would be available for anyone retiring within 15 years: retiree medical options for pre-merger United and the retiree bridge for pre-merger CAL/CMI.

Eliminating a pension plan was never an option. As unionists we fight to preserve pensions and that is what we did here. At the same time, the JNC was able to get an increase of an additional 2 percent to the UAL defined contribution plan to equalize the company payments to Flight Attendant retirement. Given the years of service necessary to obtain a pension, adding the UAL Flight Attendants into the CARP plan was not a desirable option as it would have meant starting over in a pension plan without the necessary time to build up vesting or a meaningful benefit.  Expanding the defined contribution plan is a better option for Flight Attendants nearing retirement. We also secured a commitment from the Company to explore other retirement options after ratification.

Equalization of Company Liability
In putting together a Joint Collective Bargaining Agreement it is essential to ensure that benefits are distributed fairly.  In the TA, the retirement packages for all three groups of pre-merger Flight Attendants are structured differently, but require equivalent company expenditures over the course of the five year agreement. That means the company will expend the same amount of money to provide retirement benefits for pre-merger CMI, CAL or UAL Flight Attendants over the five years of the agreement.

The TA increases the Company's contributions to:

  • the IAMNPP contributions for pre-merger CMI
  • the Defined Contribution plan for pre-merger United Flight Attendants and new hires.

The overall total retirement income packages for all subsidiaries were balanced on a company liability basis. For example, if you have three Flight Attendants similar in career stage, one from each subsidiary, the company's liability is balanced for each person, either funding a 401(k) account, CARP or the IAMNPP.

Pre-merger CAL Flight Attendants will continue accruing benefits in the CARP pension plan and have the option to receive a 401(k) match up to 3% based on their years of service and Flight Attendant contribution. Similarly, sCMI will receive increased IAMNPP contribution and a 401(k) option like the CAL Flight Attendants. Alternatively, under the TA, pre-merger United Flight Attendants will get a 5% direct contribution and 3% full match to the 401(k) no matter their length of service. The company's liability is the same on a per person basis. All new hires will receive 5% direct contribution and 3% full match no matter their length of service.

Retirement Depends on Many Factors
This does not mean that this or any other agreement will provide the exact same retirement benefits for each worker. The retirement of each Flight Attendant will be determined by their age, prior years of service, amount of flying and participation in previous or existing defined benefit plans and/or defined contribution plans.

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