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New Beginnings

Date: July 1, 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Today is July 1, 2014.  Welcome to our new beginning and the first step in our journey toward collective success. Starting from this moment, your MEC leadership and I vow to change the direction and manner in which dialogue and the exchange of thoughts, opinions and ideas take place. True progress for us all can only be made when our membership knows they are being listened to and respected for their input. We speak of solidarity so much that perhaps it is fair to say the meaning has become diluted and rendered broken if there are not true ONE VOICE actions behind the word solidarity. This is not about placing blame, as a matter of fact; that is so far from the point.

Yet the harsh reality is that it is almost 4 years since the merger, and our progression could be more defined as a regression.  You know it and I know it. So let's just put all our cards out on the table.  Management has made decisions that we feel impair our ability to do our jobs effectively; therefore it is time for the 24,000 United Flight Attendants to advocate and be part of reaching goals that do not exclude us from achievement and success.  United Flight Attendants must be perceived and will continue to prove that we are an integral part of the solution to the success of this airline; not part of the problem. To reach our collective goals, it is imperative that our employer knows we stand ready, willing and able to engage at anytime, and anywhere, which is mutually beneficial.  Constructive, result-driven, efficient dialogue can result in a respectful, strong joint contract.  Not only will this serve to officially combine our new United Flight Attendant community but it will also guarantee the viability of United itself.  Quite frankly, management must realize that the success of the airline and our ratification of a sound joint contract are intrinsically linked.
 

Right now, I feel like the whole world revolves around this message to you, a testimony to its level of importance.  There is a part of me that wants to shout out, "Trust me to carry out our collective agenda. Please do not direct your good energy and attention toward forces that serve to divide us and do not have our collective best interests at heart."

Yet trust is an earned luxury. I've had the good fortune to serve two terms of office, 6 years as Local Executive Council President of JFK...a domicile that depending on the year included 700-1000 Flight Attendants. I was a newcomer having come from EWR and the JFK-domicile is a tight-knit family. I knew I had to earn the trust of each flight attendant at that domicile through fostering one-on-one personal relationships. I would like to think that I was successful in earning that trust, something I will always cherish, and would like to continue on a larger scale with each of you.
 
The second step...

I have to find a way to explain everything, as I know you have many questions, and you want answers now.

I fervently want to share with you why I ran for MEC President, and my journey that got me to this point in time. It is so important to me to help lead the Flight Attendants of the new United to a future that has to look better than what we are waking up to today. I understand that you have heard all the platitudes, about change and hanging in there and when you are handed lemons make lemonade and you're tired of it. We all are.

I know what it is like to live the life of a junior Flight Attendant having started with United in 1998.  But my career as a Flight Attendant started over 30 years ago at People Express Airlines. This gives me the experience to understand every perspective of our members.  I will not bore you with my resume but I mention this to say, what I bring to the leadership position is my ability to see our Flight Attendant career spectrum from all sides. So when I say, I understand; I am not being dismissive or falsely empathetic. I get it! I have and continue to live with the challenges we all face together. I quite simply, dedicate my efforts to be YOUR VOICE. We will be heard.
 
The third step of our journey....

I could tell you about what a terrific leader I promise to be for you.  I believe a huge part of being a good leader is also being a great listener.  I am thinking none of that truly matters to you right now. If I have heard you right, at the very least, you want some semblance of normalcy back.  You only want a fair and equitable contract without being made to believe that somehow you are being unreasonable for wanting work protections that will lead to you doing the safest job possible for all concerned.  Perhaps you are only seeking fair wage compensation for the skilled safety professional we have trained to be; without being made to feel that you are a greedy employee for asking for reasonable compensation. Your contributions are invaluable as front-line employees to our, new United.  I have heard and shared in the angst of some of the personal issues that Flight Attendants grapple with everyday; some stories are steeped in trouble and despair. There is pallor over our workplace, morale is abysmal and although these circumstances are not of our creation, we are meant to deal with it. You want pride of place in the work environment restored. You want the resources available to do your job effectively. The reality is, we the Flight Attendants of the new United did not ask for this merger, but we are tasked with bringing these three groups together.  That does not have to be the daunting endeavor that it seems to have been to date. We, the Flight Attendants of the new United will lift each other up, in unison, resulting in a collective higher standard for all of us as we embrace and focus on our common interests.
 
And what will happen to those who try to divide the 24,000 empowered, intelligent, multi-talented, unified professional Flight Attendants of the new United? Oh, that's an easy question to answer and the last step in our journey together toward our collective goal of creating an industry-leading contract reflective of the common interests of all of us.
 
I have made the conscious decision to speak to our combined group of 24000 Flight Attendants. I know in my new position as MEC President I represent the pre merger United Flight Attendants. I also believe very strongly that we must do everything in our power to start speaking with one voice to unite our entire Flight Attendant community at the new United.
 
Those who try to divide us shall...fail. Know this, live this and believe this...we, the 24,000 AFA-CWA United Flight Attendants shall prevail.
 
In Solidarity,

Ken Diaz, President
United Master Executive Council

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