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United Airlines Flight Attendants Begin Contract Negotiations

Date: April 6, 2009

Contract Goals Set to Rebuild Career and Reinvigorate the Middle Class

Chicago - Flight attendants at United Airlines are going to the negotiating table today seeking contract improvements after enduring huge cuts in pay, quality of work life, healthcare and retirement for nearly seven years.  This morning flight attendants, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO, are exercising the opportunity to negotiate for improvement for the first time since 1996.

"Today is full of hope.  Flight attendants are committed to rebuilding our career and improving our lives," said Greg Davidowitch, AFA President at United.  "Spirits are high as we begin negotiations for improvements that reflect the good work we do at United Airlines."

Negotiations begin as union and company negotiators exchange opening proposals today.  The contract becomes amendable on January 7, 2010; under the Railway Labor Act airline contracts remain in place throughout the negotiations process.  The flight attendant contract requires negotiations to begin nine months early with the intention of having a new agreement in place as soon as possible.  If negotiations are not concluded by August 7, 2009 the union and the company will jointly petition the National Mediation Board to begin mediation, the next step in the negotiations process.

"For far too long, corporate interests have trumped those of flight attendants," said Davidowitch. "Our experience is similar to working families throughout our country; recent years have been extremely difficult for flight attendants.  Even so, we take pride in our work as safety professionals and our place in the enduring American workforce.  We are committed to negotiating a contract that rebuilds our career and compliments the Administration's agenda to reinvigorate the middle class."

Flight attendants have been working under concessions since 2002.  During United's bankruptcy flight attendants shouldered concessions that caused over 30% reduction in pay, the loss of 10,000 jobs, the burden of greater costs for healthcare, working longer hours away from their families and the termination of their pensions.  During Chapter 11 and since United Airlines emerged from its 38-month bankruptcy in February 2006, executives have repeatedly awarded themselves with hundreds of millions of dollars in pay increases and bonuses.  Today, flight attendants are seeking improved compensation, more rest and better work rules to effectively do their job, a reduction in the cost of healthcare and a more secure retirement.

"We had to negotiate concessions all through the bankruptcy, but this time is different.  Only twice before in twenty-five years have we had the opportunity to negotiate for improvements.  We will do whatever it takes to achieve an on-time agreement that meets the needs of United flight attendants," stated Davidowitch.

More than 55,000 flight attendants, including the 16,000 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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