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United Airlines Flight Attendants Call on Management to Show Leadership in Restructuring

Date: August 16, 2002

CHICAGO – Association of Flight Attendants, AFL-CIO, United Airlines Master Executive Council President Greg Davidowitch made the following statement today concerning the airline’s attempt to restructure and amend its application to receive a loan guarantee from the Air Transportation Stabilization Board, and United’s premature threat of bankruptcy.

“The Flight Attendants at United Airlines are fully committed to the long-term success of our airline and are committed to a much needed restructuring. However, we question United management’s commitment and decision-making history.

“Short-sighted management decisions such as the premature announcement of a potential bankruptcy, will ultimately cost the carrier more money in lost revenue from passengers booking away than it could ever get out of flight attendants’ pockets.

“United management has shown a lack of leadership and vision by making a public circus out of demands for worker wage cuts prior to management showing us a viable plan for fixing our airline. That plan must include a comprehensive overhaul of how management leads this airline.

“Before Flight Attendants invest our hard earned wages in our airline, we must know what we are investing in. Management must take the lead on the cost cuts it says it needs, rather than saying ‘we’ll only do it if everyone else does.’ Management must recognize the unique benefits the United Flight Attendant contract provides, and the contributions we make every day as the airline’s front-line employees.

“Flight Attendant labor costs are contractually pegged to the AVERAGE of the Flight Attendant costs in the industry, while all other United employees, including management, get top-of-the-industry-plus wages.

“United says its total labor cost represents 52 cents of every dollar of revenue, but Flight Attendant costs represent approximately only seven cents of every dollar. No reasonable assessment of United’s Flight Attendant costs could determine they are a problem for the airline. In fact, because of our contract, United enjoyed a $48 million advantage in its Flight Attendant costs over its competitors last year.

“Continued use of the ATSB as a tool to do the dirty work of United management will also fail as a long term strategy. Management needs to consider why its labor relations policies are as broken as its finances, and fix them. Getting the White House to steamroll its employees by blaming the need to cut the wages of America’s airline industry workers on the ATSB process is ironic and wrong. When it comes to the marketplace, management wants government to stay out of its business, but when it comes to labor relations, management wants the government to be its guillotine.”

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.

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