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Airline Workers' Right to Strike

Date: May 6, 2005

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA responded to the misleading letter distributed by United Airlines General Counsel Paul Lovejoy with regard to an airline worker's right to strike:

"Statements from United Airlines today questioning the legality of CHAOS strikes are nothing more than a cheap attempt by management to intimidate the flight attendants with misinformation," said Greg Davidowitch, President of the AFA Master Executive Council at United. "Rather than work with the employees in a constructive way, management clearly hopes to make good on the threat to tear up our contract, and then coerce the flight attendants into submission to avoid a strike. Flight attendants are accustomed to the heavy-handed tactics of these United executives. We won't be intimidated."

"To be clear, we would prefer never to strike," Davidowitch said. "But if management insists on abrogating our contract and terminating our pension plan it will destroy our careers. We will strike to replace this management team before we allow that to happen."

"The Company, not AFA, will have violated the Railway Labor Act if management follows through on its threats to abrogate our contract in whole or in part," said AFA General Counsel David Borer. "Under the RLA, an employer that unilaterally modifies a collective bargaining agreement has created a "major dispute" over which employees may strike," Borer said.  "Nothing in the Bankruptcy Code relieves United of that separate obligation imposed by the RLA. In fact, the Supreme Court of the United States has stated that if the carrier is free to 'resort to self-help, the union cannot be expected to hold back its own economic weapons.'"

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