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Here She Goes Again . . . . . . 

We said no in  2000.  The National Mediation Board affirmed our decision.  She "busted" her own union, spending it into insolvency  because of her Delta Delusion.  Now, Patricia Friend is trading  Association of Flight Attendants ("AFA") autonomy for a chance to dig into someone else's wallet to fund her Delta Delusion.

She should respect our decision.

Even though she lost her campaign in a fair election and spent her union to insolvency, she still has not given up her dream of imposing her will over us.

She should respect our decision.

She is willing to sell the right of her membership to belong to the only union for flight attendants, by flight attendants. 

She should respect our decision.

Her sick pursuit of the Delta flight attendant is even too strange and overwhelming for the "Twilight Zone."

She should respect our decision.

Enough is enough.

At the Communications Workers of America  ("CWA") 2003 Convention, Ms. Friend gave the following speech. To us, it sounds like Delta is a driving force for CWA/AFA affiliation.

The AFA membership needs to shut her down.  Her speech and actions show that she will do anything for Delta  at the expense of her current members.

She should respect our decision.


Remarks of Patricia A. Friend, International President, Association of Flight Attendants, AFL-CIO  2003 CWA Convention

August 25, 2003
Chicago, Illinois

To my friends President Bahr, Vice President Cohen, Secretary-Treasurer Easterling, honored delegates and guests, my sisters and brothers, thank you for inviting me here to address your convention today.

The first flight attendants were nurses, employed by an early predecessor of United Airlines. Back then we were needed to calm the nerves of passengers, because flying was still an adventure.

But I am not a nurse.

In the “coffee, tea or me” days of the 1960s, ‘stewardesses’ -- as we were known then -- became a commodity, marketed as sex objects by airline executives who thought exploitation was a business plan.

I am definitely not a commodity.

Since Deregulation in 1978, flight attendants have often been viewed as little more than a number, as rapid expansion and cut throat competition threatened to reduce the entire airline industry to the least common denominator of unit labor costs.

And I am most certainly not just a number.

My name is Pat Friend. Who I am is a flight attendant and a union leader.

I have flown for United Airlines for 36 years. I have been a union member and activist since 1977. I am a safety professional, trained to save lives and to respond to nearly unimaginable emergencies.

Today, I am the International President of the Association of Flight Attendants and I am very proud to be here representing the 35,000 flight attendants who are active members of AFA and the 10,000 members who are currently unemployed.

AFA is primarily a volunteer organization. And I know you know what that means.

Like CWA, the backbone of our organization is hundreds of flight attendants who take time away from their busy schedules everyday -- flying, family, church, and school -- to further the profession that they so deeply love through a union to which they are deeply attached.

This union got its start when a handful of brave women – pioneers in the early days of the airline industry, and pioneers in the labor movement – banded together to win better pay and working conditions. Edie Lauterbach, Ada Brown, Frances Hall and Sally Thometz left a legacy of tenacity and determination in the face of overwhelming odds. The union they created lives in their image.

That legacy stands to soon become part of your legacy, as our two proud unions stand today on the threshold of a merger of historic significance.

What have these flight attendants -- what has this union -- accomplished over the years? Let me tell you just a little of our history:

The Association of Flight Attendants is the direct descendant of the Airline Stewardesses Association, which in 1945 was recognized as the first union for flight attendants. The first contract we bargained won United Airlines flight attendants a whopping $155 monthly salary, limited duty hours, rest periods, and a grievance procedure. Ironically, these are still some of the same issues we battle today – in the recent bankruptcy negotiations, United management demanded the elimination of work rules established in that first contract almost 60 years ago.

Since that first contract our accomplishments have been many. Our continuing battles with airline management have propelled AFA into becoming the “small Union with the loud voice.” Some of our most important achievements parallel the political and social movements of our country:

bulletIn the 1940s we participated in the rapid growth of the Labor Movement seen throughout the U.S. economy.
bulletIn the 1960s we moved quickly under the new Civil Rights laws to challenge the airlines’ blatantly discriminatory policies based on gender, race, age, weight, pregnancy and marital status.
bulletIn 1968, we won the fight against mandatory resignation at age 32.
bulletIn the 70s we went to court to force the airlines to allow men to be hired, and a few years later had to fight for equal pay with our new male counterparts.
bulletWe fought and won against no-marriage rules, no-pregnancy rules and discriminatory weight policies.

When we weren’t fighting for basic justice and fairness, we were fighting to improve the flight attendant career, and to enhance the safety of our members and our passengers.

Over time we turned the stewardess job into a career as a safety professional, recognized under the law as essential to airline safety and security.

AFA and the flight attendants we represent defeated early attempts by the industry to remove emergency exits from certain aircraft. We fought against airline attempts to eliminate the FAA requirement for one flight attendant for every 50 seats on a commercial aircraft. We won carry-on baggage limits, a smoking ban, and whistleblower protection.

Like CWA, our current struggles continue the fight for a safer and more secure workplace. For AFA members that means:

bulletCertification for Flight Attendants, the only professional group of airline workers with government mandated training, but without a government license.
bulletExtension of OSHA’s authority to the aircraft cabin, because we have no federal safety and health laws protecting us now.
bulletMandatory, comprehensive security training.
bulletAnd more

In the late 1980s, Deregulation reduced AFA to just eight bargaining units, and less than 20,000 members. While the major airlines – with the exception of Delta -- had all been organized in the 1940s and 50s, deregulation had spawned dozens of new carriers. Regionals, low-fare operations, charter carriers – all with flight attendants who needed and wanted union representation.

To survive, we began to organize just like CWA did after deregulation of the telecommunication industry.

Through a series of battles that continue to this day, we have more than tripled the number of AFA-represented bargaining units from eight to 26. At our peak before September 11, we represented over 50,000 flight attendants in the U.S. and on four continents around the world. Today, nearly 85% of flight attendants in America belong to a union.

Today, we can count the number of organizing targets left for us on one hand. Easily, the biggest is Delta Air Lines.

AFA’s Board of Directors committed to organizing the unrepresented flight attendants at Delta at our convention six years ago. We worked closely with the Delta flight attendants. Developed an incredible network of activists throughout the country. And, after four years of organizing, we filed for an election.

What happened next was even too strange and overwhelming for the Twilight Zone.

The National Mediation Board ordered an election at Delta on September 7, 2001.

On September 8, 2001, AFA and the Delta flight attendants marched at the front of the New York City Labor Day parade.

The tragic events three days later shocked our nation, and devastated the airline industry and the people who work in it. While we worked tirelessly to gain new security measures to protect our lives at work, airlines were failing because passengers were staying home.

Delta Management unconscionably used the terrorist attacks against the flight attendants in the election. They said that Delta was on the brink of financial ruin – that even the slightest change could send the airline careening into bankruptcy. And, management said, “oh, by the way, that union vote you flight attendants started would definitely put us over the edge.”

The rules in organizing elections in the airline industry are different from the rules under the NLRA. To win the Delta election, we needed fifty percent plus one of the eligible voters to actually cast a ballot, or the vote would fail. So, management’s strategy is aimed at getting people to not vote.

As the ballots were mailed to the flight attendants to vote in the election, management began its campaign of fear by putting the workers on notice that their choice was essentially a vote for bankruptcy, or if you wanted to keep your airline flying and your job, to not vote at all.

As if the odds weren’t already stacked enough against us, the week before the ballots were mailed from the National Mediation Board in Washington, DC, the anthrax scare hit our nation’s capital.

So, as we were beginning the grueling work of getting flight attendants to get their ballot out of the mail so they could vote, plastered on television screens every day across the nation for the next few months were people in hazmat suits picking up mail in Washington. It was widely assumed that mail from Washington was infested with anthrax spores.

On February 1, 2002 we lost that election. Between the massive interference campaign conducted by management, and the upheaval caused by the events of September 11, it was hardly a fair vote.

But we have not lost our commitment to eventually organizing every single flight attendant in the United States. And with CWA’s help, we know we can do it.

In the wake of the September 11 attacks that killed 25 flight attendants on four hijacked aircraft, our industry and our union changed forever.

The downturn in the airline industry has resulted in a severe loss of jobs in commercial aviation, most of them union jobs. AFA is no exception; we have seen our dues paying membership shrink to just under 35,000. However, we are still engaged in the same battles; we still provide the same amount of services and programs; we still have the same number of contracts to bargain and to enforce. These are the priorities of our Union and we do not want to have to stop this work.

Shrinking membership means shrinking dollars. And shrinking dollars -- no matter how one looks at it -- equates to shrinking power. If we are to continue in our mandate to be THE premier flight attendant union, it has become obvious that we must change and grow, even in these difficult times.

Through the process of determining how to meet the challenges we face, the leadership of AFA felt it was time for us to consider merging with another union. A union with a similar vision and a similar commitment to the members we represent.

AFA is no stranger to mergers and change. Our union was founded as the independent Airline Stewardesses Association. And after a number of changes through the years, which included merging with the Air Line Pilots Association, the modern AFA was born in 1973, when we won our separate AFL-CIO charter after separating from ALPA.

AFA has almost 60 years of proud history and tradition. We hope to have another 60 years of continuing that tradition as the Association of Flight Attendants – CWA.

Why CWA? Perhaps I can best answer that question by telling you what the Communications Workers of America means to AFA.

We see CWA as a union that values what we value, whose goals for the future match our goals for the future, whose integrity is unimpeachable, whose leadership and membership are progressive, whose political agenda is in sync with ours.

We see CWA as a diverse union, like ours, with a strong commitment to civil rights and equal opportunity. Eighty-five percent of AFA members are women, and we hail from over 40 countries around the world. Combining our strength to serve this diversity is an exciting prospect to us.

We see CWA as a place where we would be welcome; where we can continue on the course we have set for AFA. With CWA, we expect to be stronger, more powerful and more stable while continuing to provide the leadership and support our members need and deserve.

We see in CWA the creative approach to building a stronger union that we like to believe we share. We see you take on Verizon using cutting edge strategies and tactics, and we share that zeal for new approaches.

Keeping your Verizon members working while forcing management to pay through the nose to keep strike breakers on the job just in case you go on strike, will eventually break management’s back financially. They can’t pay for it forever. And the strike breakers they have on staff will get more and more disgruntled as the days go by.

While the rules are a bit different in the airline industry, we employ a similar tactic in an attempt to leverage our power in contract negotiations. We call it CHAOS – which stands for Create Havoc Around Our System. CHAOS starts as a public information campaign, where we tell people that if they are going to fly when we might strike, their plane likely won’t take off. Once we get into self-help, or a strike situation, we keep our members working, but threaten to strike any flight, at any time.

Not knowing when or where we might walk off of a flight, and since we cannot be replaced while we continue working, management must go through the expense of training and flying strike breakers around the country. We fight the battle of attrition like you are doing at Verizon – believing our members can continue working longer than management can afford to pay managers to fly all around the country in case we walk off a plane, or before those managers get fed up and quit.

We believe this commitment to creativity and to cutting-edge tactics will serve both AFA and CWA well. When we share what we know, both unions will become stronger.

The objectives of our respective Unions mirror each other as exemplified in our Constitutions. We both have, as our primary objective, to unite other workers in a single cohesive union, and to improve the conditions of workers, their rates of pay, hours and working conditions. And the similarities continue: a belief in the education of our members, a commitment to communication with our members, a resolve to insist our members have safe workplaces, and a mandate to advance and vigorously defend the causes and rights of our members.

Together, we have the opportunity to create a better, more powerful, more visionary union. As I stand before you today I believe sincerely CWA is the right home for the Association of Flight Attendants. I hope you will join me -- join with my union, join in our traditions, join in our legacy of hard-fought victories for the workers we represent – and support the merger of AFA and CWA.

Thank you.



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Last modified: December 13, 2008