Flight Attendants Demand Reversal by Pension 'Protection' Board
May 2, 2005
Retirement Security for Millions of Americans Hangs in the Balance
CHICAGO - The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) made an emergency appeal to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) Board of Directors to review and reverse a last-minute deal brokered by United and the PBGC to terminate all United employee pension plans in return for $1.5 billion. The bankruptcy court is expected to hear arguments regarding the settlement agreement on May 10, 2005.
MEC President Greg Davidowitch asked the PBGC Board of Directors, including Secretaries of Labor, Commerce and Treasury to immediately review and reverse United's sellout deal with the PBGC in order to preserve, by its own assertion, the flight attendants' viable pension plan. "Why would the PBGC agree to a deal with United Airlines that accepts a payment in return for termination of the United plans? Those funds could have been applied to ensuring the viability of the plans, and specifically the Flight Attendant Pension Plan. Why, and on what statutory authority, would PBGC agree to terminate a plan it considered viable? This is directly contrary to the agency's earlier assertion just recently that "[b]ased on available information, we continue to believe that the interests of the participants and the pension insurance program would best be served by the continuance of the AFA Plan." Davidowitch argued. The full letter to the pension board is posted on the AFA website, http://www.unitedafa.org/.
AFA is contacting members of Congress this week to request urgent assistance in the flight attendants' fight to save their pensions and to defend against a collapse of the defined benefit guarantee system.
"United's attempt to win court approval for the settlement is nothing less than an end run around our right to defend our pension plan in court based on the merits of the plan. Circumventing that right, and denying us due process before the court, could set a precedent for the entire airline industry to follow - placing in motion the total collapse of our country's defined benefit pension system and the destruction of a worker's right to a dignified retirement. This is the exact outcome the creation of the agency was designed to prevent," Davidowitch stated.
The flight attendants renewed their assertion that they will initiate CHAOSTM strikes if the pension plan is terminated through the bankruptcy court. CHAOS - which stands for Create Havoc Around Our SystemTM - is AFA's trademarked tactic of surprise, intermittent strikes. Flight, dates and locations are chosen solely at the Union's discretion and targeted for maximum impact.
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 http://www.unitedafa.org/.