Lean on Each Other - Safety First
April 21, 2017
Ladies and Gentlemen:
The past two weeks have been challenging on the front lines of our airline, whether at work or in our communities at home. The horrific viral video from Republic flight 3411, operating as United Express, and the force used by the Chicago Aviation Security Officers led to a mob mentality internet attack on the people of United Airlines who had no role in the shocking event itself. Such an event of violence should never take place against any person on our planes.
We cannot express enough our gratitude and respect for all of you who have continued to maintain your professional best in the wake of this event. We know it has been difficult as there has been a spread of incredible misinformation on top of it. First and foremost, Flight Attendants had no role in this event and never would. We are aviation’s first responders and last line of defense. We save lives. We care for our passengers and each other. And in this past week we have been inspired in the way that we have seen unity among crews, at our airline and around the industry.
While we have heard many stories of passenger comments and actions that disrespect or undermine the authority of crew in the cabin, we have also received reports of passengers who have gone out of the way to say thank you with small gifts and kind words. Remember that negative experiences make a deeper impression, but it doesn’t mean that those experiences outweigh the vast majority of people who appreciate the work we do. We cannot let this incident define who we are and we encourage you to look for the positive experiences and share those with each other as well. We all need this reinforcement, especially in times of challenge.
We have been in constant contact with United executives over the past two weeks as well as our International Office in an effort to review the information and best determine a response that would support you on the frontlines. We appreciate your patience as our union has not publicly addressed the event with any statements. It was very clear that any statement released, even just to you as our members, could be taken out of context and inadvertently fuel the fire. Many of you may have seen the media interviews given by our AFA International President. While we regret this was not a direct communication to you, it was helpful in terms of introducing the reality that no United Flight Attendant or anyone from United was involved in the offending event.
United is conducting a full investigation of the event and will report the findings publicly soon. As with any investigation, we will refrain from commenting on the events in order to support a thorough and unbiased report. United has also said that this event will lead to a full review of policies related to crew movement, incentivizing volunteers and how the company partners with local authorities. The reality is that there will be change that impacts crews and we are already experiencing some of the impact of those changes.
Recently, United implemented a policy change that placed a sixty (60) minute restriction on the booking of crews on flights with limited availability. During the weekend following the announcement of that policy change we received calls from some of our Members suggesting there may have been a misunderstanding of how the policy is to be applied. When we learned there were questions and concerns, your MEC Officers acted to ensure any misunderstanding was quickly resolved with United and Crew Scheduling personnel.
We encourage you to continue to reach out to your Local Council leadership with any problems, questions or concerns arising from these new policy changes. We will work to ensure these policy changes are implemented as intended – in the best interest of Flight Attendants and the accommodation of our customers.
As we press forward to address the issues created by this event, continue to lean on each other to maintain the best of who we are. We can’t be second guessing ourselves when we need to protect the safety of the flight. Make every effort not to react to attempts to provoke us and stay focused on our mission as aviation’s first responders. The full resources of AFA in Washington, D.C. and here at United AFA, will be working to support Flight Attendants on the frontline and reinforcing for the public the critical role we play in keeping passengers safe.
Ken Diaz Adam Novish Jeffrey W. Heisey
MEC President MEC Vice-President MEC Secretary-Treasurer