For Immediate Release:
February 12, 2004
Contact: Sara Nelson Dela Cruz 617-794-8951
Ted’s First Flight PickeTED by Flight Attendants
Labor Peace Strained by United’s Plan to Cut Retiree Benefits
DENVER — United Airlines flight attendants and retirees, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO, picketed, leafleted passengers and held a rally at Denver Airport on Thursday—the same day United Airlines launches its new Ted service—to protest United’s plan to renege on its agreement to provide lower cost retiree health benefits to those who retired before July 1, 2003.
“If you look beyond Ted’s hip logo and progressive, fresh attitude, you’ll see the same bad management decisions for which United is infamous,” said United AFA Master Executive Council President Greg Davidowitch. “The new United is no more than a slick marketing campaign being funded on the backs of retirees who gave decades of service to United Airlines.”
United management signed a letter of agreement in May 2003 to ensure that flight attendants retiring before July 1, 2003 would have access to health care benefits that were less costly and more comprehensive than those that would be in place for those who retire after that date. Based on that agreement, almost 2,500 flight attendants took an early retirement penalty on their pensions to retire before the July 1 deadline, only to find out just six months later that United intends to double-cross them and cut their benefits. These changes will force retirees to pay hundreds of dollars more per month of their fixed, modest pensions just to continue health insurance.
“Why is medical insurance so important to me? I was severely injured on a UAL airplane and struggled through several surgeries and intense physical rehabilitation, to return to work as a flight attendant,” stated Gail Rodosevich, retired Denver flight attendant. “After 31 years plus with United Airlines, and fighting my way back to work from a serious injury, it was with great trepidation that I allowed myself to consider an early retirement. Without the offer to assure my medical benefits, I would not have retired.”
Flight attendants have asked the bankruptcy court to appoint an examiner to investigate United Airlines’ scheme to intentionally mislead thousands of flight attendants into ending their careers and retiring early, defrauding them out of their retirement benefits. The court will hear the motion on Feb. 20.
Flight attendants will also be picketing and leafleting at Ft. Lauderdale Airport when Ted’s first flight lands on Thursday afternoon. More passenger outreach events are taking place in Las Vegas and Seattle where retirees will be on hand to tell their stories about how United’s proposed changes will impact their lives, and current United employees will join in the fight to inform the public of United’s bait and switch tactics.
Events are being held today in the following cities:
• Denver Airport—Picketing and Passenger leafleting, doors 616 & 516, 8:30 until 11:30 a.m., Rally at door 616 beginning at 11:30. Local Contact: Sara Nelson Dela Cruz, 617-794-8951
• Ft. Lauderdale Airport—Picketing and Passenger leafleting, 3 until 5:30 p.m. Local Contact: Nate Rodriguez, 305-801-4112
• Las Vegas Airport—Picketing and Passenger Leafleting, Main Terminal, Level 2, adjacent to Lost and Found and United Ticketing Area, 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Local Contact: MaryAnne Houser, 702-561-8605
• SEA-TAC Airport—Picketing and Passenger Leafleting, 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., United Ticketing and sky bridges. Local contact: Rich Villagracia, 206-778-1434.
More than 46,000 flight attendants, including the 21,000 flight attendants at United, join together to form AFA, the world’s largest flight attendant union. AFA is part of the 700,000 member strong Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO. Visit us at www.unitedafa.org.
# # #