AFA Urges Congress to Protect Workers in Mergers
January 25, 2007
Association of Flight Attendants-CWA Urges Congress to Protect Workers' Rights
Washington, DC -Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) International President Patricia Friend submitted testimony today to the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee regarding the need for federal oversight of airline mergers to mitigate their impact on airline employees and the aviation industry.
"If we are to learn from the lessons of previous mergers, we must know that they have left a trail of broken promises, family upheaval and the erosion of decent standards of living," stated Friend. "Congress must write new and clear legislation to protect airline workers when mergers occur."
Airline mergers become devastating to employees because of a lack of federal guidance during the merger process. Soon after it inherited the oversight of airline mergers, the Department of Transportation (DOT) disbanded "labor protective provisions" that helped to protect workers, and ultimately eliminated employee rights.
"Flight attendants who elect unions and collectively bargain contracts face harsh realities when a merger is announced: their contracts could be nullified, their wages slashed and their lives disrupted as they often are uprooted to other cities if they wish to continue their careers," wrote Friend.
Many of the drastic consequences of mergers occur because key provisions of the Railway Labor Act (RLA), which exhaustively regulates the industry and contains proven rules and procedures that benefit both labor and management, do not apply to merger negotiations. One provision of the RLA, Section 6, allows employees to strike in the event that contract negotiations have come to an impasse. In merger negotiations, workers often are left with virtually no legal recourse and are subject to abusive negotiation practices by management. Only by requiring that merger negotiations take place under Section 6 will workers have a fair chance at retaining their hard-earned pay and benefits.
"Employees with a voice in their workplace and legally binding contracts are engaged in their future and the future of the company. Legal protections for collective bargaining work for everyone and should be preserved when mergers occur. Flight attendants have played by the rules and followed the law to secure a legally binding voice on the job. Do not silence that voice and those rights," pleaded Friend.
For over 60 years, the Association of Flight Attendants has been serving as the voice for flight attendants in the workplace, in the aviation industry, in the media and on Capitol Hill. More than 55,000 flight attendants at 20 airlines come together to form AFA-CWA, the world's largest flight attendant union. AFA is part of the 700,000-member strong Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFL-CIO. Visit us at www.afanet.org.