Dear AFA: January 20, 2009

Date: January 20, 2009
Type: Dear AFA

Good afternoon and welcome to Dear AFA on Tuesday, January 20th, 2009 and the day of the 56th Inauguration of the United States President. This is Linda Farrow reporting – and Glenn’s gotta go.

AFA Participates in the Inauguration

As the nation – and the entire world – paused while we inaugurated a new president, our colleagues are there, representing us and our profession.  Our colleagues from the crew of US Airways flight 1549 have been invited to attend the inauguration, just days after their miraculous job saving the lives of all aboard after an emergency ditching in the Hudson River.  Their professionalism spoke volumes about the work we do, and focused the attention of the media and the public on our crucial role in passenger safety.

Also on hand at the inauguration to represent our profession: a group of AFA members from United and elsewhere, marching in the American Workers Contingent in the inaugural parade.  Having ordinary working people and their Unions participate as part of the parade is unprecedented in modern inaugurations, signaling a new era of respect for the rights of workers.

Together We Can Make a Difference

President Barack Obama is calling on all Americans to take action to help turn the country around.  Together we can make a difference.  We’ve done it before.

Like today, in the 1960s the nation was faced with great and daunting challenges – the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, the war on poverty – and yet there was nevertheless great hope.  An energy and the sense of possibility and empowerment fueled a progressive movement for social change.  Ordinary people, from all walks of life, came together, mobilized and changed the country forever in a few short years.

But for those of us who remember the 1960s, many of you also may remember the empty feeling about the nation’s politics that became the norm after that incredible yet awful decade.  For many, the hopes of that era were crushed by the assassinations, first of President Kennedy, then Dr. King and finally JFK’s brother Bobby. The riots in Grant Park during the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968 burned into our minds an image of social breakdown: an unjust war abroad, and divisive domestic politics had culminated in riots pitting citizens against the police.  Those riots crippled the party, and ceded the national agenda to reactionary forces throughout the country.  The aftermath of that war and those riots, and the other social dislocations of the time, demeaned our politics and diminished our nation for decades.

A few months ago on election night we were all transported back to Grant Park with Barack Obama, for a very different kind of night.  No riot police; no police riot.  No protestors wearing motorcycle helmets for protection.  Just a beautiful family onstage to mark a new era, one that begins by restoring the hope that many of us lost in 1963 and 1968.  As the time for Obama’s inauguration arrives, many are feeling the energy and the possibility that his election has come to symbolize.  An astounding 79% of the American public believes that things will improve under an Obama presidency.  Against all odds we have once again seen that "long fine flash" of hope and possibility.

Whatever your background, whatever your party affiliation, take pride today, not just in the inaugural ceremonies, but also in the page that was turned.  We still face many challenges, and all of us together must work harder than we have ever worked before to achieve reforms necessary for our future.  But take a moment today to savor how far we have come.

United Flight Attendants Affected by Inauguration of 44th President

Having a new president in the White House will affect United Flight Attendants directly in some ways, and indirectly in many others.  The new President will appoint the members of the National Mediation Board (NMB), which oversees our Contract negotiations once we enter the mediation phase. Under the Bush Administration the NMB was essentially on orders never to allow an airline strike.  The only significant exception during Bush’s eight year term was the mechanics’ strike at Northwest, where management sought government approval of a strike in order to have the opportunity to bust the mechanics Union.  It worked.  An Obama Administration, by contrast, has pledged to respect the rights of workers.

Under the Bush Administration, the Department of Labor (DOL) was also enlisted in the war on workers and working families.  The DOL, which was created to protect workers, became a major source of regulations favoring management, sometimes reversing decades-old labor policies on topics like workplace safety, job security and pensions.  With her appointment to the post of Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis – one of the strongest advocates in Congress for workers rights –the Obama Administration has signaled it intends to restore the Department of Labor to its intended role as the champion of working people.

For these reasons, and much more, the Obama Administration appears set to embark on policies and appointments that will begin to reverse decades of corporate abuses.  But it will still be up to us to do our part.  The White House will help to level the playing field for all workers, but officials there will not decide whether we win a good Contract. That’s up to us.

One Week More to Respond to Contract Survey

As we’ve said before, the negotiations process starts with your input.  So, if you haven’t already completed a negotiations survey, please do so immediately.  The deadline for the surveys is Tuesday, January 27, at 1700 Central Time.  Although we continue to encourage Members to first write your answers on a paper copy before entering on-line, don’t let a missing paper copy of the survey stop you from contributing your desires for these negotiations. Be a part of the process now and throughout our negotiations. Make your voice heard.

Go to to find the survey instructions and the link to take the survey on-line. All you need is your six-digit file number. Follow the instructions on our website. If your file number is not six digits simply add leading zeros. Use your PIN, which is your birth date in MMDDYYYY format

Thank You Letters to Crew of 1549

Many Members have expressed a desire to personally thank the crew of flight 1549 for representing all of us with professional grace. US Airways Flight Attendants Sheila Dail, 28 years experience; Doreen Welsh, 38 years experience; and Donna Dent, 26 years experience together took part in the first entirely successful ditching in commercial aviation history. US Airways Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, a 29 year veteran; and First Officer Jeffrey B. Skiles, a 22 year veteran brought 50 years of experience between them – making the entire crew a combined 140 years of experience. Cards of appreciation and support may be sent to the AFA-CWA US Airways MEC Office at 205 Regency Executive Park Drive- Suite 310 / Charlotte, NC 28217. Mark your cards for the crew of flight 1549 or to each of the crewmembers’ names.

That’s all for today. Thank you for calling and continue to remain informed as we stand strong together.

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