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UAL Flight Attendants Apply for Federal Mediation in Negotiations

Date: August 7, 2009

Union Contract Requires Mediation 5 Months before Contract is Amendable

Chicago – The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO (AFA-CWA), representing flight attendants at United Airlines, is filing a joint petition with the Company to the National Mediation Board (NMB) as the next step in securing a new contract.  The union contract requires this joint filing today as part of an agreement to begin negotiations early and expedite the process for a new contract.  The agreement was part of negotiations in bankruptcy where flight attendants were required to take deep cuts to pay, benefits and work rules.

“Flight attendants have only had the opportunity to negotiate for improvements twice in the last 25 years,” stated Greg Davidowitch, president of the AFA-CWA at United Airlines.  “Our members are struggling to make ends meet after years of sacrifice for the airline.  The joint petition for federal mediation filed today means we are one step closer to securing a new contract with the pay, benefits and work rules that reflect the good work flight attendants do everyday. We look forward to meaningful discussions with the assistance of the NMB.”

Flight attendants have not been in negotiations for Contractual improvements since 1996.  The current contract that becomes amendable on January 7, 2010 is the product of several rounds of concessions forced during United Airlines’ 38-month stay in Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  Under the Railway Labor Act airline contracts do not expire; they remain in place throughout the negotiations process.  The flight attendant contract includes a clause intended to support reaching a new agreement as soon as possible.  It required negotiations to begin nine months early and continue to progress with this filing to the NMB.

"Many families across the country are hurting now with cuts to pay, retirement, quality of work life and jobs.  United Airlines flight attendants have worked under these onerous conditions for nearly a decade," said Davidowitch. "We are committed to changing our circumstances and lifting the standard for working families across the country.  The airline has paid millions to executives; it’s time to compensate the people who are on the front lines of the airline.”

During Chapter 11 and since United Airlines emerged from bankruptcy in February 2006, executives have repeatedly awarded themselves with hundreds of millions of dollars in pay increases and bonuses.  At the same time flight attendants have endured concessions including 30% reduction in pay, the loss of 12,000 jobs, the burden of greater costs for healthcare, working longer hours away from their families and the termination of their pensions.  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 will do whatever it takes and work with the mediator to achieve an on-time agreement that meets the needs of United flight attendants and returns the airline to its preeminent status in the industry," 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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