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Mon, May 02, 2005

AMFA Leaders Prepare For United Airlines Strike

Union Leaders Gathering In Chicago To Make Final Plans

It looks for all the world like United's mechanics will soon go on strike.

"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 airline industry."

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 agreement.

"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 federal regulations."

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.



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