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United Fails to Reach Consensual Agreement on Retiree Medical Benefits

Date: May 21, 2004

United Rejects Reasonable Offer from Retirees and Moves Forward with Injurious Plan to Slash Long-term Loyal Employees’ Health Care

CHICAGO -- United Airlines is expected to file a motion in bankruptcy court today to slash retiree health care benefits, despite the concerted efforts of United’s retiree coalition to come to a consensual agreement with airline management. The retiree coalition represents nearly all unionized, salaried and management workers who retired before July 1, 2003. 
United Airlines Flight Attendant Master Executive Council President Greg Davidowitch, of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO, issued the following statement regarding United’s ill-fated plan:
“As much as we believe United’s proposal to slash retiree medical benefits is unreasonable and inconsistent with Section 1114 of the Bankruptcy Code, we have been meeting with the Company in an effort to address the challenges before us and to avoid destructive litigation and any subsequent effect on Flight Attendants. 
“We had hoped that the current management of United Airlines would make a good faith effort to reach a consensual agreement. Instead, in response to the retiree coalition’s proposals, the Company’s negotiators repeatedly made entrenched proposals fundamentally unchanged from the original proposal presented in March. Clearly, United’s actions are not conducive to good faith negotiations.
“To say that we are disappointed about United’s actions in bankruptcy court today would be an understatement, however, the Flight Attendants continue to be committed to the success of our Company. Management’s platitudes about their concern for the viability of our airline ring hollow since management’s actions at the negotiating table speak louder than words. Any goodwill that existed a year ago has been squandered.
“Over the course of the past year, it is apparent that the relationship necessary for a successful reorganization is non-existent due to the continued overreaching by the management of United Airlines.” 
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.

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