Flight Attendants’ Union Overwhelmingly Endorses Sending Vote on Merger with CWA to Members
October 31, 2003
WASHINGTON, DC –Delegates to the Association of Flight Attendants’ 30th annual Board of Directors meeting in Boston voted overwhelmingly to endorse a merger agreement with the Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO, and to send the final decision on whether or not to merge to a membership vote. Flight attendants represented by AFA will be casting their ballots on the proposed merger in November.
AFA has lost 10,000 member flight attendants over the past two years. Flight attendants at many carriers have been forced to take painful cuts as their airlines navigate the bankruptcy process or teeter on the verge of insolvency because of the massive restructuring in the airline industry set off by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
“This is a vote for strength by workers and a union that have been under attack by airline management ever since Sept. 11,” said AFA International President Patricia Friend. “With this merger, AFA will have the resources and support that come with being part of a large, strong, diverse union, and it gives us the ability to once again fight management’s attacks from a position of strength.”
AFA leaders chose CWA as a partner because of the union’s philosophy of aggressively fighting on behalf of its 700,000 members. The merger agreement between AFA and CWA enables AFA to retain its identity, autonomy, structure and ability to control the agenda in fighting on behalf of flight attendants, while gaining access to CWA’s vast resources.
“The saying ‘there’s strength in numbers’ is not a cliché for workers, it’s a reality,” said Friend. “AFA was losing members to furloughs. We were losing strength and we were at a crossroads. We needed to find a new path to ensure we can continue to be a strong advocate for our flight attendants and our careers. Now our members will have the final vote, and I believe they will display the same kind of solidarity shown by AFA’s elected flight attendant leaders and send management the message that we will keep fighting.”
AFA began as the Air Line Stewardesses Association in 1945. The union was affiliated with the Air Line Pilots Association as the Steward and Stewardess Division from 1960 until 1973, when the modern AFA was born. In 1984, the AFL-CIO issued AFA its own charter. AFA is known today for its innovative campaigns on behalf of flight attendants. The union first developed and implemented its trademarked CHAOS – Create Havoc Around Our System – strike campaign in 1993 at Alaska Airlines. Edith Lauterbach, one of two surviving founders of AFA, spoke to the convention delegates in support of the merger with CWA.
“Partnering with CWA will enable us to take CHAOS and our legislative battles to another level in fighting for flight attendants,” Friend said.
Over 36,000 flight attendants at 26 carriers join together to form AFA, the largest flight attendant union in the world. Visit us @ www.afanet.org.