Flight Attendants Escalate Fight to Rebuild Career
July 20, 2007
Executive Refusal to Share Rewards & Failed Business Practices Anger Workers
Chicago - After suffering huge cuts in pay, quality of work life, healthcare and retirement, Flight Attendants at United Airlines, want a pay raise, and they want it now. Leaders of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) adopted a formal resolution this week and escalated efforts to open negotiations early, demanding raises and other improvements.
"The time is now for United management to share the rewards. If we didn't do the work, they wouldn't get what they get," said Greg Davidowitch, AFA President at United. "United Airlines profits should be invested in its employees rather than wasted in a series of worthless business plans or squandered on insulting training classes for front-line workers who already know best what is needed for a successful airline."
AFA and other unions at United have been pressing to reopen collective bargaining agreements and negotiate pay raises since the airline began to show a profit following emergence from bankruptcy last year. That effort escalated on Thursday July 19 when hundreds of Flight Attendants, Pilots and other employees marched to United's new luxury executive offices in downtown Chicago. Marchers then surrounded the building, picketing in support of new contract talks.
"We want to focus positive efforts on our families and our airline. But experience with this management has made it crystal clear that we have to fight for our families and our airline. We will continue to escalate this effort until management agrees to open the contracts for improvements," said Davidowitch. "The best business plan is one that focuses on the key stakeholders - the employees. Money wasted on a required employee training about management's business plan would be better spent on an increase to Flight Attendant compensation and immediate improvements in quality of work life issues."
The training that drew the Flight Attendants ire is titled Business Education Training, and is being presented to all 55,000 United employees at a cost of over $25 million. According to the union, Flight Attendants were especially insulted since "Flight Attendants deliver exceptional service to United's passengers despite inoperative equipment and deferred cabin interiors," while management has given little to no regard for the interruption of Flight Attendant schedules and additional costs incurred. Davidowitch today sent a letter to Glenn Tilton condemning the training and addressing Flight Attendant demands.
"Our work and our concessions have turned this airline around, in spite of the failed business plans of this executive team," said Davidowitch. "Now we want to share in the rewards before the CEO takes all the profits." CEO Glenn Tilton has seen his compensation soar to $40 million since emerging from bankruptcy. That's more than the total profit earned by the airline and $40 million would equal a 10% raise for all 17,000 Flight Attendants.
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.