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Lawmakers Urge United Airlines to Fund Pensions

Date: September 27, 2004

Flight Attendants Applaud Congressional Efforts to Save Pension Plans and Avoid Collapse of Pension Guarantee for Millions of Workers

CHICAGO - Twenty three U.S. Senators and one hundred and seventeen U.S. Congress members signed on to a letter authored by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Congressman George Miller (D-CA) urging United Airlines CEO Glenn Tilton to reconsider the company's decision to stop funding employee pension plans, putting the retirement of nearly 120,000 employees and retirees in jeopardy.

A portion of the lawmakers' letter read:

"While we understand that the airline faces difficult challenges in emerging from bankruptcy, the employees and retirees have already agreed to job reductions and significant concessions in their wages and benefits. We strongly believe it is unfair to insist that their retirement security be sacrificed as well.

"Earlier this year, Congress took specific action to protect airline pension plans … because we believed, based upon representations by you and other airline executives, that this action was necessary to preserve the pension funds. Now, a few months later, we learn that United may end its pension obligations and jeopardize the retirement security of thousands of families in our states and districts."

The letter to Tilton underlines growing political concerns about the impact United Airlines employee pension plan terminations could have on the rest of the airline industry and ultimately on the overburdened Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

"We are grateful for the overwhelming support from both the Senate and the House on this crucial issue," said United AFA Master Executive Council President Greg Davidowitch. "United Airlines management must be held accountable for their decision to skip pension payments and put in play a domino effect of devastation for workers throughout the airline industry. If these executives are unwilling to make good on promises to employees, then our government must ensure that no stone is left unturned in working to preserve the retirement counted on by over one hundred thousand United employees and retirees, as well as the viability of our government's pension guarantee agency meant to protect millions of workers."

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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