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#1 Flight Attendant Retires from Friendly Skies after 60 Years

Date: April 23, 2007

CHICAGO - United Airlines Flight Attendants, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants -CWA, AFL-CIO (AFA-CWA), applaud the number one Flight Attendant in the industry, Iris Peterson, as she retires from the job that started as "sky girl" or "stewardess" and evolved to "certified safety professional" and a career for "Flight Attendants."

"There's no way to celebrate the career of this phenomenal woman without recognizing the extraordinary achievements she was a part of fighting for throughout her career.  Iris led the way in shaping the career we are each so proud to call our own," stated Greg Davidowitch, President of AFA-CWA at United Airlines.   

When Ms. Peterson began her career in 1946, jet engines were nowhere in site and job restrictions included age, gender, ethnicity and weight.  But the vision of Ms. Peterson and her peers helped to destroy these discriminatory practices.  Today, the Flight Attendant profession is often recognized as a leader in advancing the rights of women and uprooting gender discrimination. 

Active in her union throughout her career, Iris held various leadership positions and often represented her colleagues in grievances, safety issues and on Capitol Hill.  AFA-CWA historian and retired flight attendant Georgia Nielsen tells us that Ms. Peterson was often an integral part of advancing her profession through activity in her union.  In 1953, she was the first official lobbyist for the Air Line Stewards and Stewardesses Association.  In 1968, the same year that stewardesses won the right to hold the job if they were married, Ms. Peterson participated in safety plans for the first jumbo aircraft.  She worked with aircraft engineers and was instrumental in gaining acceptance for 17 safety items, including the evacuation alarm, which is now a standard on equipment worldwide.

"Iris has been a mentor to all of us who've followed in her steps," Davidowitch continued. "She has spent a lifetime committed to her airline and to improving the profession she has loved for six decades.  As her fellow crewmembers, we have been lucky to receive her guidance for 60 years.  Iris is an intensely private person, but Flight Attendants everywhere are the beneficiaries of her dedication and commitment to our profession.  She is truly one in a million."

The AFA-CWA website provides Flight Attendants and the public with an address to send cards of appreciation and congratulations to our Number One Flight Attendant, Iris Peterson.

More than 55,000 Flight Attendants, including the 17,000 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 www.unitedafa.org.

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Send Congratulations Cards to:

ATTN: Iris Peterson
6250 N. River Road, Suite 4020
Chicago, IL 60018

photo of seattle roadshow

Active in her Union throughout her career, Iris is pictured here after a 2006 Union meeting with AFA-CWA United President Greg Davidowitch and AFA-CWA Seattle Local President Diane Tucker.

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