Flight Attendants Say They're Being Robbed
United Airlines flight attendants said Friday that airline
management has set a new, higher target for annual labor cost cuts.
The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) called the new target
"overreaching and inequitable."
In an AFA
statement to Aero-News.Net, the flight attendants said United now
demands $2.56 billion in annual cuts from its unions. That's $160
million more than United's previously announced savings target of
$2.4 billion a year.
In addition, the AFA accused management of increasing its total
target for annual flight attendant contract cuts by 75 percent over
the allocation provided to the unions in August 2002 ($160 million
increase) -- upping the total flight attendant cuts to $314 million
annually. "This management proposal places the entire burden for
the increased cuts on the backs of the lowest paid employees at
United: flight attendants," said the AFA release.
If the flight attendants' percentage share of the total labor
cuts package had not changed from the pre-bankruptcy allocation,
the new total would be $179 million.
What the union said it found particularly
troubling was that this new proposal takes more from its lowest
paid workers while reducing the cuts to employees making more money
by as much as 35 percent.
"AFA is committed to ensuring that United Airlines successfully
reorganizes, but our participation must be fair; the allocation
announced yesterday is not," said AFA United Master Executive
Council President Greg Davidowitch.
AFA said United has offered no explanation for its new numbers
in the allocation of concessions among the various employee
On top of significantly reducing pay, requiring flight
attendants to pay more out of pocket for health insurance, and
forcing each flight attendant to contribute more of her or his own
pay towards a retirement plan, the concessions management wants
under the new plan would also eliminate the jobs of thousands of
flight attendants at United, said the AFA.
United flight attendants have already accepted a temporary nine
percent cut in wages. In order to assess what United actually needs
going forward, management has to provide AFA with certain essential
information -- a business plan, the total amount of concessions it
seeks from all employees, and AFA's allocation of that amount.
"What we've been given to date is not a business
plan, it is a marketing presentation, and it's going over like a
ton of bricks with the employees who make up United Airlines," said
AFA United Master Executive Council President Greg Davidowitch. "We
are a service industry and we are an industry of people.
Obliterating the front line workers in our company is bad
Davidovich promised the flight attendants would counter the
United proposal. "AFA has been and will remain prepared to do all
that is needed to aid in the recovery of our airline. We will not,
however, blindly follow a strategy that is neither viable nor
necessary. AFA will prepare and present United with a proposal that
contains the amount of concessions consistent with a business plan
that is a realistic assessment of what it will actually take for
United to reorganize successfully."