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AFA Fights Airline Staffing Cuts

Date: November 6, 2018

AFA Fights Airline Staffing Cuts

United on Monday announced it will reduce service by pre-plating meals on the ground and eliminate a Flight Attendant position on certain international widebody flights beginning February 2019, to “align” with staffing levels at American and Delta.  

This decision was made after months of effort during which United management claims they “listened to our customers and analyzed our competitors’ staffing levels.”  United will match the staffing level on aircraft operated by Delta Air Lines and American Air Lines, along with removing one Flight Attendant in the economy cabin on international 757 routes “to operate more efficiently to align with our peers.”

But let’s not lose sight of what this entire initiative is all about. Short-term gain for Wall Street with billions in stock buybacks funded on our backs. We are an airline, not a hedge fund.  Rather than matching the staffing level of our competitors on these aircraft, we should set an industry standard that makes it impossible for them to compete with United. We should be driving the highest standards today.

Since the release of our Special E-lines last evening, Flight Attendants and customers alike are asking, “What can I do to help?”  AFA is working to build a coalition of supporters including passengers, other Unions and Flight Attendants who will work together to persuade management to take an alternate course of action - the course of action that has been taken until now. That is, to fight against the reductions of our peers and set an industry standard second to none.

We must stand together.  Wear your AFA pin and let the company know you support the message from your Union.  Be prepared to participate in the solidarity actions your MEC is planning in support of this issue.  We must show management we are United in our conviction that reduced staffing means fewer Flight Attendants to observe odd behavior, identify intoxicated passengers, resolve issues at boarding, and de-escalate conflict between passengers. It means fewer Flight Attendants to respond to medical emergencies, back each other up with aggressive passengers, maintain a safe space for everyone, and follow through on addressing any issues of sexual assault or hostile situations. It means not having the time to provide the customer service so many enjoy giving and that our customers have come to expect.

Staffing is about safety and service - we can’t accept the lowest level in either case.

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