AFA-CWA Calls for Bankruptcy Reform to End the Abuse of Airline Employees
September 6, 2007
Washington, DC – In its first few days back from August recess, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law heard testimony today from employee groups regarding how corporate bankruptcy laws are grossly skewed towards management. While the airline industry has seen its share of bankruptcies since the beginning of deregulation, it has become more of trend since 2001 with over 20 airlines filing for protection. The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) was represented at the hearing by Greg Davidowitch, United Airlines MEC President.
"Many AFA-CWA flight attendants, as well as other airline workers, have had their lives destroyed by corporate bankruptcies, and by management's use of the law to force devastating cuts on employees," said Davidowitch. "Something must be done to help level the playing field so that bankruptcy is no longer a 'business strategy' that simply transfers money to executives' pockets and leaves the employees with nothing more than slashed pay, diminished health care, destroyed retirement security, bitterness, mounting debts and the prospect of personal bankruptcy."
While the front line employees have seen their numbers slashed, pay drastically reduced, benefits eliminated and work rules destroyed, management level employees continue to reap unearned rewards. The most recent rounds of bankruptcies have been especially devastating as there has been a dramatic slashing of jobs as well. ATA Airlines cut over 1,000 flight attendant positions and Mesaba Airlines reduced their ranks by almost half. Aloha Airlines had a 12 percent reduction in the flight attendant workforce, US Airways saw over 3,000 jobs slashed, and United Airlines suffered the largest blow when over 12,000 flight attendants' careers were put on hold as the company navigated through bankruptcy. Yet while corporate management retains their untouchable pensions and salaries while the employees find themselves working more for less, passenger travel has increased more today than before 2001, resulting in an unprecedented productivity increase – an increase which, to date, has largely only gone to enrich executives and shareholders.
"If the current system had any element of fairness it would not allow massive bonuses and incredible compensation packages for the very executives who took these companies into bankruptcy in the first place, and who then inflicted massive pay cuts on the workers under color of law," stated Davidowitch. "I implore you to fix the bankruptcy law before there is any more devastation. Put an end to management abuses and their use of the bankruptcy laws as just another business tactic to cut costs and line their own pockets. Level the playing field for the workers we represent. Enact a law that provides the protection of restructuring a company for the good of the long-term dedicated workers who are committed to the success of their companies."
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.