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United Flight Attendants Support Humanitarian Efforts in Japan

Date: March 18, 2011

Flight Attendants First Responders in Japan Crisis

Chicago – United Airlines Flight Attendants, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO (AFA), are always prepared for our role as first responders. As the tragic events in Japan began last Friday, the union put its first responder network into action and coordinated with United Airlines to determine the safety and whereabouts of our crews on layover and members based in Japan.

Within 24 hours of the earthquake and ensuing tsunami, the union had accounted for all Flight Attendants on layover and those based in Japan. “Our immediate priority is the health, safety and security of United Flight Attendants. Local Flight Attendant union leadership did a fantastic job of ensuring the well-being of all Flight Attendants in Japan and setting in motion a comprehensive relief effort. Our focus continues to be humanitarian efforts we could provide to our members in Japan and their families,” said Greg Davidowitch, president of AFA at United Airlines.

The union has an award-winning AFA Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and a disaster relief fund to assist members and their families follow tragic events. AFA Flight Attendants have undertaken a massive effort to collect donations, food, water and much needed supplies and bring them to those coping with this traumatic event. We are working with Airline Ambassadors International (AAI) to dispatch mobilizing teams to Japan to assist in the relief efforts. “While not surprising in the least, it never ceases to amaze me the capacity for caring and empathy our co-workers can demonstrate when called upon to respond in a crisis,” Davidowitch said.

United Airlines Flight Attendants have been eager to work flights to Japan in an effort to help. As a protection to all members, the union coordinated with United Airlines to ensure no Flight Attendant is forced to work to Japan. To date, flight attendants have hand carried over a thousand pounds of relief supplies to the area. Davidowitch remarked, “this experience reflects the indomitable spirit of United Flight Attendants who see a crisis and work to provide immediately assistance to those in need. This is what we do, and who we are. Ushering evacuees to safety and emergency workers and supplies into Japan – Flight Attendants are heroes.”

Following the earthquake, AFA has provided support and relief supplies to the United Airlines Japan Labor Union (UAJLU) and President Davidowitch sent the following message, “We extend our deepest condolences to the Members of the UAJLU and to the families and friends of the victims of this natural disaster. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those whose lives have been touched by this tragedy. As you move forward, may you find some comfort and strength in knowing that you have the enduring friendship and support of Flight Attendants at United Airlines.”

We are working closely with United and several key federal agencies; including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) who all assure us that flying into the area remains safe. We continue to coordinate with United Airlines for contingency plans that include adequate food and water, alternate layover locations and evacuation if the situation worsens. The union is also conducting an independent scientific analysis to evaluate possible radiation exposures to our members.

More than 50,000 Flight Attendants, including the 15,000 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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