United Airlines Flight Attendant Costs Ruled Below Industry Average By Arbitration Panel
May 30, 2002
CHICAGO – United Airlines flight attendants, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants, AFL-CIO, were awarded $48 million by an arbitration panel to make up for the amount the flight attendants’ 2002 compensation currently lags behind the average of United’s competition.
“This award means United has enjoyed an advantage in flight attendant costs below the average of the carriers’ main competitors,” said AFA United Master Executive Council President Linda Farrow.
“While the money will mean a much-deserved raise, it only brings our flight attendants up to the average of United’s competitors,” said AFA United MEC President-Elect Greg Davidowitch. “We still are not at the same top-of-the-industry-plus level of compensation as the rest of the employees at United.”
The current United flight attendant contract contains a sideletter on wage arbitration. The sideletter provides for a yearly review of flight attendant costs beginning each February until the contract becomes amendable in March 2006. The process calls for the parties to meet and agree to the criteria used in computing United’s flight attendant costs. If the parties don’t agree, the matter is settled by an arbitration panel, consisting of an independent arbitrator, a representative of the flight attendants, and a representative of the company.
The flight attendants are the only work group at United with this type of wage arbitration built into its contract. The arbitration was part of an abandoned corporate strategy called “Vision 2000” that pegged compensation to industry averages. Subsequently, United management has negotiated a number of new contracts that provide industry-leading compensation for other employee groups.
The award approximately equates to a 7.5 percent pay raise, retroactive to April 1, 2002. The final distribution of the $48 million will be decided in negotiations between the parties, which begin June 3.
More than 50,000 flight attendants, including the 26,000 flight attendants at United, join together to form AFA, the world’s largest flight attendant union. Visit us at www.afanet.org.