Bankruptcy Court Appoints Ross O. Silverman as Examiner to Investigate United Airlines
February 27, 2004
CHICAGO -- Bankruptcy court Judge Eugene Wedoff approved the appointment of Ross O. Silverman as the examiner to investigate United's plan to change retiree medical benefits for workers who retired before July 1, 2003.
United Airlines flight attendants, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO, and supported by the International Association of Machinists and Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association in court, contend United intentionally misled thousands of workers into ending their careers or retiring early, defrauding them out of their retirement benefits.
The bio of Ross O. Silverman on his law firm website, Katten, Muchin, Zavis, and Rosenman explains that he "concentrates his practice on white collar criminal defense, insurance fraud related litigation, and civil as well as criminal tax litigation. Before joining the Firm, Mr. Silverman was a Trial Attorney for the Criminal Section of the Tax Division at the United States Justice Department for two and a half years and an Assistant United States Attorney in Chicago for four years."
"We are encouraged with the appointment of Mr. Silverman and the experience he brings to this important investigation," said United Master Executive Council President Greg Davidowitch. "The thousands of employees who have sacrificed billions of dollars annually to see United succeed deserve to know whether their concessions were made in good faith. We look forward to working with Mr. Silverman and his team to thoroughly examine the facts of this issue."
The court requires that Mr. Silverman report his findings to the bankruptcy court by March 19. The scope of the investigation aims to determine if United decided to use the bankruptcy code to pursue changes to retiree medical benefits prior to July 1, 2003. This date was significant because United established it as the deadline by which an employee would have to retire to secure less costly and more comprehensive medical benefits. United had not notified retirees that it intended to use the bankruptcy code to pursue changes to these benefits prior to that date. These changes would force retirees to pay hundreds of dollars more per month of their modest pensions just to continue reduced health insurance.
More than 46,000 flight attendants, including the 21,000 flight attendants at United, join together to form AFA, the world's largest flight attendant union. AFA is part of the 700,000 member strong Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO. Visit us at www.unitedafa.org.