There is no denying the past 18 months have been tumultuous. We have all had the merger of Continental, Continental Micronesia and United Airlines imposed on us, and it has driven many events that we did not ask for and may not have wanted. The representational election that was required because of the merger was divisive and acrimonious for everyone, and now, like it or not, we are faced with Joint Contract Negotiations.
While the work that must be accomplished in order to combine the contracts from Continental, Continental Micronesia and United may seem insurmountable, the task at hand is not Mission Impossible. Flight Attendants, regardless of their airline histories, have all experienced Contract negotiations in one form or another, but very few of us have gone through the bargaining that lies ahead.
To that end, your Joint Negotiating Committee spent a week at Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations to begin the work necessary for developing the process and strategies for Joint Contract Negotiations with United Airlines. Considering there are nine of us, and we come from three different airlines, have different union histories, and a wide range of experiences, it was necessary and appropriate that we take time to better understand our respective histories, including how our Contracts work, and maybe more importantly, how each of our Flight Attendant groups work.
We spent the entire week engaging each other in serious discussions about the state of affairs at the new United Airlines, and the importance of our roles in it. We were able to clear the air, addressing one another’s perceptions – and sometimes, misconceptions - about one another, and we have all reached the conclusion that our common interests are so much greater than the things that might divide us. As a result of these discussions, we have agreed to a process which will guide our team as it proceeds through negotiations. This process will help us collaborate with each other in creating a new Joint Contract that will benefit the entire Flight Attendant population at United Airlines and once again lead the industry with respect to Flight Attendant wages and working conditions.
To be clear, there is no right or wrong way to be a Flight Attendant. There is no right or wrong Contract. There is no right or wrong way to represent Flight Attendants. It is time to stop using our differences to divide us or make pronouncements regarding one another’s work practices and lifestyles. It’s time to unite!
The next several weeks are critically important as we move forward together. Continental Micronesia is voting on a Tentative Agreement and we anticipate meeting with United Airlines later this month. As we proceed, all joint negotiations related communications will come directly from the Joint Negotiating Committee. You can expect these coordinated updates from us through all the normal channels.
The progress we made this week should not be taken lightly. We are no longer three groups of representatives from three different airlines. We are one committee of Flight Attendants who will make every effort to gather up the best practices each group has to offer. We will shape those components, along with fresh ideas, into a new industry leading Contract for all United Airlines Flight Attendants.
Cindy Commander, CAL
Greg Davidowitch, UAL
Kathleen Domondon, CMI
Joey Guider, CAL
Suzanne Hendricks, CMI
Cynthia Iverson, CMI
Jack Kande, UAL
Kevin Lum, UAL
Marcus Valentino, CAL