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Let's Talk About April 1

Date: December 29, 2020

As we celebrate the return to work of our flying partners who were placed on furlough status as well as those in the IVFMP, we continue to be amazed at United leadership’s immediate and consistent description of this recall as a “temporary” reprieve.

In the coming days and weeks, we are going to go into detail with you about the realities and challenges of the year ahead of us. Let’s start right off the bat by saying, we do not share management’s view that an involuntary furlough is necessarily inevitable. 

The question of whether or not there will need to be some reduction in force from our full population in April is a question that can’t immediately be answered. It could be argued, in the absence of additional payroll support from Congress, that it might be likely. However, our Contract provides for a number of furlough mitigation programs that can minimize the need for involuntary furloughs. We recognize that even the most optimistic forecast shows United to be 30% smaller at the end of 2021 than we were in 2019. 

But the landscape in April is markedly different than it was last March and even as recently as this past October. We are convinced and will advocate that there are many solutions and options that take a responsible approach to managing staffing without unnecessarily disrupting the lives of any segment of our Flight Attendant population.

We will be reviewing the challenges we face in 2021 with you, exploring and sharing our more optimistic view. We acknowledge United CEO Scott Kirby has a challenging job in navigating United Airlines through the worst pandemic this country has seen in over a century. His job is to make difficult decisions to ensure the survival of our airline. Scott has a reputation as a “numbers guy” and he’s been very aggressive in his cuts and that “direction from the top” has filtered down through all departments at United. While decisive leadership in any successful enterprise is essential to our survival, it’s definitely not a strategy that has to be taken in perpetuity or applied in totality. Our strategy needs to evolve with the changing world, which is gradually improving and responses need to be tempered by good judgement.

Our job as a Union is to defend our Contract and to protect jobs. We have taken equally aggressive action to protect jobs through the IVFMP as well as our tireless and relentless efforts in Congress to get a Payroll Support Program extension.

The important piece to all this is that our individual goals are not mutually exclusive. Our Union wants our airline to survive and we want to preserve our careers. Having said this, there are many more ways to achieve our mutual goals through cooperative efforts and we can avoid any relentless pursuit down a path of involuntary furlough as a foregone conclusion.

Stay tuned, we’ve got a lot to talk about.

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