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Flight Attendants Fight for 'Pensions over Pavement' for O'Hare Expansion

Date: February 18, 2005

United Airlines Plans to Use Workers' Painful Sacrifices and Deplete Their Retirement Security to Fund Mayor Daley's Expansion Project

CHICAGO -- United flight attendants, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants, AFL-CIO, are calling on Mayor Daley and United Airlines to abandon the O'Hare Expansion plan in favor of protecting jobs and retirement security for airline workers. The Union vowed to exhaust every resource to stop United from funding the airport reconstruction project and save flight attendant pensions.

United is expected to spend in excess of $500 million dollars a year in capital improvement projects related to the controversial airport initiative. According to an analysis conducted by Infrastructure Management Group, United's annual debt service could rise as high as $539 million if Mayor Daley's O'Hare Modernization Plan goes forward. Funding the expansion project will substantially increase the likelihood that United Airlines employees will never receive the full pensions they were promised.

"United's idea to terminate its employee pensions so that, in essence, it can come up with the cash to pay costs of Mayor Daley's O'Hare reconstruction plan is outrageous." said Greg Davidowitch, president of the flight attendant United Master Executive Council. "We are calling on Mayor Daley to end this ill-timed airport remodeling to protect the defined benefit pensions of his constituents and the tens of thousands of other employees subject to the actions of Chicago's hometown airline."

"The Association has an obligation to protect our Members from an employer that would take billions of dollars in sacrifices from its employees, seek to terminate our pensions, and all the while press forward with billions of dollars of funding for this airport boondoggle," Davidowitch continued. "It's time for United management to get its priorities straight and stop this Machiavellian plan before it's too late. Flight Attendants demand our pensions over pavement!"

United Airlines has been soliciting employee participation at O'Hare Expansion public hearings scheduled for next week in Elk Grove Village, Elmhurst and Niles. The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA is exposing these meetings as a sham and calling on members and retirees to boycott them in protest.

More than 46,000 flight attendants, including 20,000 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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