MEC President's Letter, February 12, 2019
February 12, 2019
Dear Flight Attendants,
I spent Monday and Tuesday in Washington, DC with AFA leaders from around the nation planning our union's response to an unprecedented threat to our lives and our jobs. Standing together to thwart this threat of a partial government shutdown is also an opportunity for our union to grow stronger for the fights that matter in our daily lives at work.
If a deal is not reached in Congress and signed by the President to fund the government by Friday, the shutdown will continue and we will effectively enter day 36 on Saturday. This is a threat to our safety, security and jobs, and we must mobilize now to prevent it, or stop it if becomes a reality.
Moved to action to protect all of us, our union was instrumental in bringing the first shutdown to a pause. Our efforts to prevent it from continuing on February 16 have built strength and visibility for our issues. Working together to stop this threat to our safety and jobs will help us grow stronger, build public support for Flight Attendants, and show management that we are a force to be reckoned with as we demand implementation of our contract.
While we continue working for our issues at United--like fixing payroll issues, IT glitches and promoting adequate staffing--we must commit to the effort to stop a continued shutdown.
Our union is calling other unions and all Americans to join us in mass protests at airports across the nation on February 16th if a deal is not reached. I am including more information below about why, and how, we plan to take this action. If we avert the worst, we still have major issues to tackle and we will use this coming Saturday to raise those issues.
For now, plan to come out to your airport Saturday morning if the shutdown continues. You can also learn more on the AFA webcast with President Sara Nelson by clicking here.
Our safety at work and our jobs depend on federal workers like air traffic controllers, TSA officers, FAA inspectors and the others who keep our planes safe and our skies secure.
The 35-day shutdown stretched our system to a breaking point, and the system has not recovered. Many federal workers still have not received the back pay owed, and an ongoing shutdown will put them under immense stress. Critical safety programs were halted and have not been restarted as agencies wait to see if another furlough and lockout will begin on February 16th.
If federal workers can't do their jobs, we can't do ours. Already, Flight Attendants at other airlines have lost scheduled flying, and airlines have cancelled flights due to aircraft not being inspected due to the shutdown. Cancellations due to shortages in ATC and TSA would be epidemic in size and devastating to our jobs.
Gaps in security put all of us in danger, and shortages or stress in air traffic control creates real risk for our flights. A serious incident could also lead to significant flight reductions, furloughs or even layoffs.
In addition, twenty percent of air traffic controllers are eligible for retirement. If our dedicated partners are once again forced to work without pay, many may simply choose to retire. If a significant number leave, it could mean up to fifty percent of flights grounded, which will be catastrophic for our jobs.
We are aviation's first responders and last line of defense. Because of the nature of this threat, our union is mobilizing--alongside our sisters and brothers and the general public--to demand that Congress pass a long-term, bipartisan spending bill to keep our government functioning as intended.
If Congress fails to reach a deal by Friday, the shutdown will continue to day 36 on Saturday. Recent reports suggest a tentative deal has been reached, but deals have fallen through before and we must be prepared to take action. Our safety, security, and jobs are on the line.
We are asking our allies and communities to join us in pickets and rallies at airports across the nation on Saturday to send a clear signal to Washington that putting us in danger is unacceptable.
We are also preparing to take any necessary to protect our safety and the safety of our passengers if it becomes clear that there are safety concerns caused by a continued shutdown.
In Washington, our union is playing a critical role in coordinating this action, and we are mobilizing for the fight. This is part-and-parcel with our work to uphold our contracts and defend our members' rights at work.
While we are preparing for this effort, we are also continuing our efforts to ensure that our contract is properly implemented. Our team continues to work day-in and day-out to identify the IT issues that cause problems for our members, flag those issues for management, and ensure they are fixed in a timely way.
In addition, we have ensured a dedicated team is performing manual audits of payroll to ensure that flight attendants are receiving their full and proper pay. This multi-layered approach is both addressing any current problems and working to prevent future problems by fixing glitches in the system.
We are also continuing our meetings with management to demand changes to the proposed staffing reductions and ensure members' jobs and safety are defended.
The efforts we are leading to prevent the shutdown from continuing--or to stop it quickly if it does--are building power for all of our efforts. As the public sees us championing their safety and leading this work, it builds solidarity and power for our future fights. Management and government also see the power of Flight Attendants acting together. It is critical for our safety, security, jobs and future fights that we stand together and mobilize in this moment.
If a deal is reached to keep the government open, we will still hold pickets at a number of airports around the nation to demand immediate implementation of the FAA bill establishing new safety guidelines, including our 10-hour rest requirement. This is a moment for our union to stand firm for our rights, and we will use it to demand fair treatment at work, and a government that works for all Americans.
United Master Executive Council