This information is no longer current - it is for reference only. It is an archive review of events that took place during United Airline's Chapter 11 Bankruptcy from December 9, 2002 - February 1, 2006.

Bankruptcy is Over

Date: April 6, 2007
Type: MEC President Letter

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Bankruptcy is over; our airline is making a profit and the executives are taking twice as much as the entire airline just for themselves.  Maddening, yes, but also totally destructive for ourselves and our airline if we don't focus on doing something about it.  Together with other members of organized labor, we are demanding to share in our airline's success by pushing management to increase employee compensation, employee success sharing, improve quality of work-life and move up Contract bargaining dates.  And, we're all clear that management does not intend to share with airline workers; our fight will not be quick or easy.

So where do we start?  First, our experience must remain fresh at hand if we are to leverage our anger for action.  We must recognize the realities of where we have been, if we are to be successful with what we now want to achieve.  Those who have been here or in other professions for a long time know that our jobs were not always good, our work as a Union is what turned our jobs into careers.  During United's bankruptcy, we fought hard to minimize the impact of sacrifices forced through concessionary bargaining.  We were forced to consider what it was that we most wanted to protect, while also being charged with meeting a total dollar amount for "cost savings." 

For example, we all know that Reserve days off were changed from 12 to 11 days during the 2003-2009 Restructuring Agreement.  What we sometimes forget is that United, wielding the bankruptcy court as its weapon, demanded changes to Reserve availability and was specifically demanding 4 moveable reserve days at the company's discretion.  We absolutely refused to agree to any such change that would totally destroy Flight Attendants' ability to control their days off.  In the final hours of negotiations, we begrudgingly turned the total loss of Flight Attendant control into one extra day of availability each month – ultimately minimizing the impact on Flight Attendants subject to Reserve.  Similarly, the change of line guarantee reassignment in Section 8.J. of our Contract was a final hour painful concession affecting Lineholders.  In this case, we were also successful in limiting the amount of time the company wanted for reassignment.  But the strange measure of success should never be one that is accepted by us.  Disgustingly, success in that environment was measured as decreased pain, instead of making gains.

The words "concession," "waiving," and "cost saving" must be extracted from our vocabulary and in association with our Contract.

Now it's time to stop looking back and instead focus on what we have to achieve!  Remember what we have had to face, but diligently reject the way we had to think in a concessionary bargaining environment.  The words "concession," "waiving," and "cost saving" must be extracted from our vocabulary and in association with our Contract.  For many among our ranks, the concept of bargaining for improvements is foreign but that is exactly what we are going to do and our leverage comes from our strength in numbers.

Let's consider an example of demanding Contract enforcement together.  In very broad summary, our Contract provides us with the right to safe, clean, quiet, food accessible hotels with timely, safe transportation.  After numerous TVLLOG reports detailing a myriad of problems at the LAX Radisson field layover hotel, AFA disapproved the hotel and insisted that the company immediately move Flight Attendants from the unsafe, unclean, noisy, bug infested, disapproved hotel.  We provided several other LAX field layover options immediately available in AFA approved overflow hotels which could be used immediately.  This is not a negotiations; it is a cost of doing business that the company must comply with our Contract.  To date the company has failed to move us and continues to give excuses about why they cannot change hotels.  The fact is: if the hotel didn't have problems, Flight Attendants wouldn't be writing it up! 

Your TVLLOG reports are making a difference and forcing the company to face the problem.  Do not reward their impertinence with silence!  It is often a tactic of management "to wait us out."  Don't be fooled by this because we have big things to accomplish together.  With the LAX Radisson specifically, and every other hotel and transportation issue, we must persist with factual reports about issues.  Factual, concise reports void of emotion are the most effective.  Make no mistake, your reports are making a difference and in our numbers we make change.  Do not accept inaction – leave bankruptcy and the excuses of cost-saving initiatives in the dust.  We have given and it hurts – we will give no more. 

While we fight for our share, we also defend our industry against plans to further deregulate and destroy it through foreign ownership and international competition in the U.S. domestic marketplace.  Tilton is setting up United for sale to the highest bidder – and hoping to include bids from foreign interests.  Management has exposed their priorities and in doing so, have strengthened ours.  We are united in our mission to save our airline from greedy hands and demand our share of rewards. 

In Solidarity,

Greg Davidowitch, President
United Master Executive Council

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