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20-Year Anniversary of E-Lines – AFA Electronic Communications

Date: February 26, 2021

This month, February 2021, is the 20th year anniversary of E-Lines. Let us reflect on the history of our Union’s most recognizable communication.

In the 1990’s before the Internet was a “thing” and everyone had personal cell phones, times were perhaps simpler. We had land-line telephones at home and those of us on Reserve may have carried a pager. As part of United’s history, crew scheduling sat at desks in the domicile and communication from the Union came through a twice a week recording affectionately known as “Dear AFA,” as well as from a quarterly magazine publication sent to Members’ homes.

During “contentious” 1995 Contract negotiations, the strong voice for our Union and our profession, was that of Jerry Butz who was the Flight Attendant who recorded our twice-weekly message.  Jerry was renowned (sometimes too much!) for his acerbic style of calling out management for their decisions that negatively impacted our Flight Attendant community and our Contract negotiations. Jerry eventually retired but continued to serve during United’s bankruptcy, recording a weekly message and holding management accountable for their “theft” of United employee’s pensions and other life-changing decisions that would come to impact our career for years to come. 

On Jerry’s retirement, AFA looked to fill a “big set of shoes.” Denver Flight Attendant, Allen Ward, stepped up and became our new “voice.”  Allen had worked with Jerry in the 90’s often filling in when Jerry was unavailable or was too “fired up.” 

To step off topic briefly, we recognize Jerry Butz and Allen Ward among the “great Union supporters.” Allen, always friendly and always ready to pick up a guitar, he is reported to be quite the charming conversationalist on the jumpseat – discussing everything from politics, news, Union topics of interest and anything that sparked a good debate. Through his career, Allen has supported the Union personally and professionally and while he may not be as well known outside of Denver or to our flying partners who have more recently joined our ranks, his name inspires a smile. He is arguably one of the most likeable guys many of us know.

In 2001, E-Lines was established and became the way AFA communicated with the Membership twice weekly. E-Lines incorporated the Tuesday and Friday Dear-AFA recordings, one each week recorded by Allen and one by another AFA Member as a guest.

As more highly technological electronic communication methods came into vogue, E-Lines eventually became the dominant communication tool and eventually Dear AFA was telephonically phased out. People no longer used phones at home as often, a need for “information on my time” became the norm and our focus diffused onto social media for more “instant gratification.”

Having said that, our MEC website and E-Lines remain the official and most critical ways we get accurate, information to you, our Members. We know you need facts and information you can rely on from a source you trust – and we are committed to continuing that tradition.

One thing that our history tells us is that everything changes, and after 20 years we are exploring ways to refine our presentation and the focus of E-Lines to make it more adaptable to today’s climate for news and information. As our rich history demonstrates and our Members expect, the content of E-lines and the quality of the information presented will remain unchanged and will not be compromised as we move forward in our exploration to find new and effective ways to get accurate and complete information to the Membership in a timely manner.

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