Flight Attendants Fight UAL CEO Tilton's Deal to End Pensions
June 23, 2005
Termination of Flight Attendant Pension Plan will Open Door to CHAOS™ Strikes
CHICAGO - United Airlines Flight Attendants today denounced the company's deal to terminate their pension plan. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) today placed legal notices in several major newspapers announcing that it will act on United's deal for the agency to take over trusteeship of the United Airlines Flight Attendant Pension Plan on June 30, 2005. The flight attendants, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO (AFA) are fighting to save the plan through a legal challenge and demanding immediate action on Capitol Hill. They are also preparing for CHAOS™ strikes in the event their contract is unilaterally changed through termination of the pension plan.
"United has been wrong since it started down the path of terminating our hard-earned defined benefit pension, but today's announcement, if acted upon by the PBGC, would destroy the retirement security of 28,000 Flight Attendants. This is not only contrary to public policy, it is evil," stated AFA United President Greg Davidowitch.
The PBGC public notice lists the maximum payout for plan participants under its guarantee, but fails to recognize the reductions flight attendants will suffer through halted accrual and onerous reductions of their benefits should they not meet retirement qualifications on the date of termination. Two-thirds of the flight attendants stand to lose over half of their modest pension benefits at average retirement age should the defined benefit plan be terminated and replaced with a defined contribution plan currently proposed by United Airlines management.
"Flight attendants cannot afford termination of our pensions. United Airlines has $2.4 billion in cash - approximately ten times the amount it would take to save our pension under our proposal," said Davidowitch. "As Tilton holds tight to his $4.5 million trust, he risks a strike for failing to recognize the value of working with our airline's front-line employees. Both his employment and pension must be terminated for the success of United Airlines."
Appeal of the bankruptcy court's decision to approve the $1.5 billion deal between United Airlines and the PBGC is moving forward in the district court for the Northern District of Illinois. In a separate action, AFA is appealing a ruling against a preliminary injunction to enjoin the PBGC from acting on the deal with United. That appeal is filed with the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit.
More than 46,000 flight attendants, including the 20,000 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/.