Home > News > AFA Debrief May 25, 2023

AFA Debrief May 25, 2023

Date: May 25, 2023

AFA Debrief – May 25, 2023

  • Typhoon Mawar Update
  • Call Wait Time Reports
  • Jewish American Heritage Month
  • AFA Welcomes Class 2313!

Typhoon Mawar Update

Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone impacted by Typhoon Mawar which struck the island of Guam Wednesday night. Mawar was upgraded to a super typhoon, meaning that its maximum sustained winds were at least 150 miles per hour, as the storm moved over open water. The storm had packed Category 4-level winds of about 140 miles per hour at “just prior to midnight” local time on Wednesday, as it passed over Guam, according to a local meteorologist from the National Weather Service.

Our MEC Safety Health and Security Committee is coordinating with the Inflight Duty Manager and Local AFA Leadership to check on the wellbeing of crew members on the island. With most of Guam left without power it is a slow process to reach everyone affected.

There were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries. But the storm was so strong that it broke wind sensors and radar equipment that send meteorological data to the local Weather stations.

If you are in contact with any Flight Attendants living in Guam, please encourage them to contact the Inflight Duty Manager (IFDM) at 1-800-358-5463 for support. The safety and wellbeing of our Members affected by the typhoon is our top priority.

As we learn more about the current situation, we will share with all Members how they can help with recovery efforts and support our Union siblings. As a reminder the AFA Disaster Relief Fund is available to those affected. For those of us who would like to assist our colleagues in need, please consider a donation to the AFA Disaster Relief Fund by visiting AFA-CWA.org

The Guam airport is currently closed and will be evaluated on Friday to determine next steps in resuming service at the station.

Call Wait Time Reports

We continue to receive reports and photo screen shots from Flight Attendants who have encountered lengthy call wait times when trying to reach the Flight Attendant Support Team (FAST), Crew Scheduling and Crew Accommodations.

Management continues to tell us they have hired and trained additional scheduling personnel, yet there continues to be instances where your actual experience when calling during results in extended call wait times. We need to work to get to the root source of the issue.

As we enter what we expect will be a very busy travel season, we encourage you to continue to report on call wait times by submitting a Local Council Report. Please provide details (date, time of call, length of extended hold time, what you were trying to accomplish, etc.) on any of the extensive call wait times when calling the Flight Attendant Support Team (FAST), Crew Scheduling or Crew Accommodations when conducting routine tasks such as, obtaining hotel information, changes to Reserve assignments, or other pairing modifications. This is not the all-inclusive list of items; the list goes on. What matters is that you provide a complete picture of what you were trying to accomplish and any impediments you encountered in getting this done.  Keep in mind, you are able to attach screen shots to your Local Council Report to assist in documenting the call wait times. 

We remind you of our communication from earlier this year when we told you about the implementation of our new Grievance Database. In order to submit Local Council Worksheets, you must first create a new sign-on for the Grievance Database. Please review the information from our December 13, 2022 announcement. If you encounter difficulties in creating the new sign-on, use the links on the page to obtain additional assistance.

Jewish American Heritage Month

Having observed and now looking back on Jewish American Heritage month, we pay tribute to the approximately 7.6 million Jewish Americans and their collective contributions to the rich fabric of our nation. While there are more stories than we could ever possibly share, we offer the story of one Holocaust survivor, Leo Ullman, as a testimony to the strength and perseverance of the people who make up and support this extraordinary community.

We extend our gratitude and appreciation to Dana Arschin, two-time Emmy-Winning journalist and current Storyteller for the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County (HMTC) for her work to protect these stories and for allowing us to share her work.

Leo Ullman

Holocaust survivor Leo Ullman is one of the most interesting people I have ever met. He's a Harvard graduate, a wildly successful entrepreneur, a philanthropist, and an accomplished athlete who has completed 145 triathlons. That's barely scratching the surface of this man's extraordinary life.

“My life was not defined by the Holocaust," says Ullman. 

The 83-year-old, who I interviewed at his beautiful home on the water in Sands Point, Long Island, is among the youngest Holocaust survivors. He wasn't even a year old when the Nazis invaded the Netherlands in May of 1940. 

"At first my parents and I had the chance to escape. We went to a fishing port in Holland. The scene at the fishing port was utter chaos. There were not big boats taking people to England, rather it was just a lot of people hoping to get onto a fishing boat or two."

Leo and his parents, named Frank and Emily Ullman, could not get onto one of those boats. Life in the Netherlands soon became increasingly more difficult for the Jews. It started with decrees. First, for all of the country's approximately 140,000 Jews to relocate to the country's capital city of Amsterdam. 

“Every Jew had to have a J on his identity card. And every male Jew had to include the name Simon as a middle name and every female Jew had to include the word Sarah as her middle name."

And then it got even worse, as transports to forced labor and death camps began.

“People who were elderly, invalid, children, were being pushed into cattle cars."

Leo's parents felt they had no choice but to go into hiding in March of 1943, when Leo was 3 years old. With help from Emily's friends in the resistance, they secured a hiding place for Leo in the apartment of a Christian family. It was an unimaginable decision to separate from their little boy, not knowing if they would ever see him again. Frank and Emily hid in an attic of a storefront on a main street right in the heart of the city. The same city where Anne Frank was in-hiding with her family. 

"Every step outside, every motorized vehicle, every noise, could have meant the end of their lives and to live under that kind of unbelievable pressure and terror is something you can’t replicate in a play about Anne Frank, or anything else.”

Leo and both his parents miraculously survived the war. A Dutch policeman and his wife risked their lives to hide Leo and treated him as if he was their own son. Leo is still in touch with the descendants of his war parents.

"I always wondered why in the world my war mother and father would take this ultimate risk. It may well be that they didn’t think the war would last as long as it would, but to take in a Jewish child, under circumstances where the Nazis were paying huge bounties for anybody that betrayed a Jew, and they would almost certainly kill anybody who was hiding a Jew. To take that risk is something I couldn’t ever understand. And I always asked my war mother why in the world would you do that, and she said 'because it was the right thing to do.'"

Ordinary people, doing extraordinary deeds in the face of absolute death. For Leo, sharing his survival story is critical, especially now, as we see a spike in antisemitism across the globe.

According to Holocaust scholar Michael Berenbaum, approximately 105,000 Dutch Jews were murdered during the war.

"If we don’t tell that story, who is there to tell it? And I also realize I am among the youngest survivors and soon there won’t be anyone to tell the story and therefore I felt it was very important for me to do that," said Leo.

Here in the United States, Leo started a whole new chapter of his story. After the war, his parents had another baby, Leo's younger brother, Henry. In 1947 the family made its way to New York. Leo remembers being on that ship like it was yesterday. 

"We were on the Westerdam, a converted liberty ship and we came to New York in the fog and drizzle and suddenly the Statue of Liberty appeared and the tears were streaming down my mother's face and she said...I have trouble saying it, 'we beat Hitler.'”

And beat Hitler, they did. The Ullman family moved to Port Washington, Long Island where Leo was too advanced academically for the public school system. He finished high school at the renowned Andover prep school in Massachusetts, then graduated in three and a half years from Harvard, where he was also the goalie for the Harvard lacrosse team. He even took a term off from Harvard before graduating to join the Marine Corp. He was in the reserves for five and a half years, while also earning his JD and his MBA from Columbia.   

"This is where I spend a huge part of my life," said Leo as I stepped into his Port Washington office, a quick drive from his home. 

He owns a real estate management company called Vastgood Properties, which he started after leaving his former company, which went public. This is Leo's advice to up and coming entrepreneurs and those interested in real estate:

"Don't be afraid to take risks. Don’t be afraid to put it all on the line. Go out if you can and get a two family home and rent it, and then buy a four family home. And then buy a small apartment building and maybe you get a little office building here and there and it works if you are careful. There is no magic to real estate. It’s all common sense, it is not more than that."

Leo's company owns 19 shopping centers mostly in Pennsylvania, and most of them anchored by Giant supermarkets. He takes great pride in his properties and says he's always honest and goes out of his way to show his tenants respect and to learn their stories.

Leo's work definitely funds some of his incredibly interesting hobbies. He recently donated to Stockton University his entire private collection of Nolan Ryan cards and memorabilia. Nolan Ryan is one of the ultimate power pitchers in major league baseball who pitched for 27 years and holds the records for no-hitters and most strikeouts. Leo's collection had about 15,000 items and took him 29 years to accumulate. It's valued at approximately $1,2M. Leo also wrote a book about this collection, which will be published soon.

“My goal at this point is simply to have the book be beautiful, I want it to be evidence of all the work I put into it, I don’t have to make a nickel on it."

Leo's writing portfolio doesn't stop there. He penned a book about his Holocaust survival story, called 796 days.

Leo's wife of 63 years, Kay, who is also his high school sweetheart, shares how important she believes it is for Leo to tell his tale to anyone who will listen, especially since Leo is an increasingly rare first-hand witness. 

“I think that’s most important, most important that he is a primary source," said Kay.

My story on Leo could be never-ending. This man is a force to be reckoned with. He has biked across the country, completed 145 triathlons and three Ironman races. Together he and Kay have four children and nine grandchildren.

"It was always my mother's credo that we beat Hitler. And how did we beat them? We created what we think is a wonderful family.”

A wonderful family and a powerful legacy, Leo's greatest revenge against the Nazis.

HMTC Storyteller – Dana Arschin

Leo Ullman Video Segment

AFA Welcomes Class 2313!

On behalf of your Union, we extend a warm welcome to the newest Members of our Flight Attendant family. We are thrilled to have the new flying partners on board, and we look forward to working together to ensure that our airline remains one of the best in the industry.

Our newest flying partners will begin their careers at our domiciles in DEN, EWR, DCA and SFO.

Their professionalism, in-depth understanding of our experiences, and eagerness to be part of our community are all sources of encouragement for us. We firmly believe that these new members will enhance our profession with their unique talents and abilities, thereby strengthening our collective expertise. Please join us in welcoming them to our ranks as they join us on the line next week.

Please remember that our newest Members are on probation. To ensure that they receive the most accurate information to support them, direct them to their AFA Local Council for assistance on Contractual issues.

We encourage you to welcome each of them, help them learn from your experience, and get them started on a path to success and adventure in their new career.

And, if you are interested in supporting our newest Members, the AFA Buddy Program is for you! We are looking for Members to become an AFA Buddy in their Local Council. You will be given all the support and guidance to help our new hires find their footing during probation. Reach out to your Local Council and become a Buddy today!


MAY – Mental Health Awareness Month
MAY – Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
MAY – Jewish American Heritage Month
MAY 08 – 26 – AFA Annual Supplemental Benefits Open Enrollment
MAY 29 – U.S. Memorial Day


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