Union Leaders Gathering In Chicago To Make Final Plans
It looks for all the world like United's mechanics will soon go
"We have no choice now but to plan for a strike at some point
soon," said AMFA National Director O.V Delle-Femine. "We're tired
of subsidizing mismanagement that predates the 9/11 tragedy. United
is not only destroying our livelihoods, but our retirement
security. With the acquiescence of the Pension Benefit Guarantee
Corporation, United is digging into taxpayers' pockets to pay for
management's long history of under-funding pension plans, even in
better economic times, and failing to adapt to changes in the
In January 2005, AMFA members working for United overwhelmingly
voted to authorize a strike if additional pay cuts and other
concessions were imposed outside of the normal negotiating process.
Bankruptcy Judge Eugene Wedoff then imposed a temporary 9.8 percent
pay cut and reduced sick leave benefits for AMFA members, for the
period February 1 through May 31, 2005, to give AMFA and United
additional time to try to reach a consensual contract
"AMFA urged United management to use this remaining time to
resolve our existing differences, but instead, they failed to take
the negotiations seriously and added new fuel to the fire by moving
to terminate our pensions. This is the money these employees and
their families were planning to live on during their retirement
years," Delle-Femine said. "Whatever raises and bonuses they claim
to be foregoing lately, I promise you that Glenn Tilton and other
United executives will be retiring in style.
"United management, in its audacious greed, also made itself
eligible for up to 40 percent bonuses in the company's new
success-sharing plan, versus a mere five percent bonus for
mechanics and other employees," he said.
"United has a history of insincere negotiating, avarice and
disregard for employees, and the bankruptcy courts are giving
management whatever they claim is needed to 'save the company.'
Management has destroyed employee morale, trust and credibility.
They are on course to destroy this airline with their incompetence
and arrogance," Delle-Femine said.
"United says a strike is an illegal violation of the Railway
Labor Act. We contest that interpretation and are making
preparations to test this issue. As AMFA's national director, I am
authorized to call for an immediate nationwide strike and have
called strikes three times before at AMFA. Without aircraft
technicians on duty, the airline cannot safely fly or comply with
United is seeking to rewrite all its labor contracts to save
costs for the second time in its bankruptcy. After slashing labor
costs by $2.5 billion annually in 2003, including a 13 percent pay
cut for mechanics, the airline later said it needed another $725
million in yearly reductions.