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MEC Officer Letter - We Have a Contract

Date: May 22, 2020

Ladies and Gentlemen:


Earlier this week, United employees 
welcomed Scott Kirby to his new position as CEO of United Airlines. Scott stepped into his CEO position via a CNBC interviewHis message, however, left many United employees confused when he suggested that a reduction in hours was a solution to avoid October furloughs. While he referenced voluntary programs, what was most noticeably absent was any discussion about improving or enhancing these voluntary programs to encourage additional participation. 


"We are hopeful at United that we can work with our unions to variabilize our pay structure and frankly, not lay anyone off, not furlough any of our frontline employees," Kirby said. "Instead, using voluntary programs, and in particular, asking people to work fewer hours until we get through the crisis."

When Scott made these remarks he should have been well aware of the sacrifices Flight Attendants, collectively have made in the service of the company. Beyond the additional work in the cabin of the aircraft to reassure passengers and deal with heightened levels of anxiety from passengers, Flight Attendants have engaged in solving the problems to which the company and the traveling public have been faced.  For two months in a row, more than 12,500 Flight Attendants have volunteered to take themselves away from the jobs they love and off the payroll via the negotiated Special Company Offered Leaves of Absence (COLA) programs, more than 50% of all voluntary COLAs company-wide.

 

Many Flight Attendants regularly fly more than the 71-hour lineholder or 78-hour Reserve guarantee.  Our contract provides these pay protections as well as opportunities to increase our wages. It cannot go unnoticed that we have these pay protections, not increasing the hours we work is a significant reduction for many of us.  And while we have these income protections in place for times of economic difficulty through our negotiated agreement, Flight Attendants must be recognized for their contributions in reducing the cash burn during this COVID-19 crisis.

 

Mr. Kirby’s message, while acknowledging our Contractual minimum pay protections, failed to recognize the 

multiple voluntary programs that are available to the company through our joint Collective Bargaining Agreement to reduce personnel during a period of an economic downturn. Instead we believe his message was intended to appeal to individual employees and persuade Flight Attendants to accept less than that for which we have bargained.  Right now, we need to speak with one voice and enforce our Contract.  Scott must come to understand that, for each of us, “My Union speaks for me.”

Let’s be clear, protecting jobs is at the top of the list of priorities for all Labor Unions and this is most certainly the case for AFA.  All of our actions from the very beginning of this crisis have been tailored to save jobs while, at the same time, creating and improving options for time off.  We have staunchly recognized that our collective cooperation is necessary in order to have not only a job, but a quality profession to which we can all return as travel rebounds and the economy improves. And, Flight Attendants have stepped up to the challenge.  

 

As we continue to navigate through some of the most difficult times in our airline’s history, we hear you loud and clear. No concessions. To accomplish this, we must all recognize that our strength comes from our collective.  No bargaining with any one Flight Attendant. We must speak with one voice because, regardless of your seniority, your base or your status as a lineholder or Reserve, this fight is about your future.


Together, all of us, speaking with one voice through our elected AFA representatives will make it through this storm and come out on the other side with our hard-fought, contractually protected full-time jobs that are not only careers that support families for so many but also a profession of which all of us can be proud to be associated in the future.

 

In Solidarity, 

United Master Executive Council Officers

 

Ken Diaz

Adam Novish

Jeffrey Heisey

President

Vice President

Secretary Treasurer


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