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Update 2002-8

August 31, 2002

Its August, time to pack up the kids, and send 'em back to school.

Item 1

Delta's pilot ground instructors just decertified the Transport Union Workers (TWU) as their collective bargaining agent.   After three years of the TWU not living up to its promises, the pilot ground instructors signed enough cards to try to elect a new union.  The new union was called Joe T. Hatfield, Individual.    Well, if we at Deltafa.org ever wanted to belong to a union, it would be the "Joe T. Hatfield, Individual"  union.  Our slogan would be "Joe T. is for me."  Well, anyway, we digress. 

When the dust settled, it seems that the ground instructors used this opportunity presented to them by Mr. Hatfield to decertify the TWU.  In fact, the results looked something like this.


  Joe T. Hatfield, Individual Void Ballots TWU Number of Employees Eligible
Pilot Ground Training Instructors 1 1 44 145

Well, as we know, 44 +1 out of 145 does not show sufficient interest in being represented, and the instructors rejoin us as non contract personnel. Also, the TWU rejoins the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) in the category of being a union representing no Delta employees.

Read the official tally from the National Mediation Board

Delta's statement

Delta Statement Regarding Pilot Ground Training Instructor Representation Election

ATLANTA, Aug. 9, 2002 – Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) today released the following statement in response to the results of the representation election, in which Delta’s pilot ground training instructors chose to return to non-union status:

"Delta’s management team has stated repeatedly the belief that it is in the best interests of both the airline and Delta employees to communicate directly and openly, without the intervention of a third party. Therefore, Delta is pleased that the pilot ground training instructors have chosen to return to non-union status."

Item 2

Bankruptcy, Bankruptcy,  Everywhere.

Remember, way back when the AFA organizing drive was well funded?  Remember when it could afford to pay masses of flight attendants from other airlines to tell us that we needed the AFA?  Do you also remember their two main talking points:  Delta flight attendants  "need the dignity and respect of a legally binding contract," and "Delta flight attendants need a seat at the table."

Let us look at how AFA performance lives up to its slogans.

At US Airways, flight attendants were furloughed last year despite a "no furlough" clause in their contract. Recently, US Airways flight attendants took major benefit reductions in order to try to save their company.  At first, the US Airways Master Executive Council (MEC ) said no.   When threatened with bankruptcy and a prospect of court ordered reductions, it conceded.   

At United Airlines (UAL), the AFA MEC is also saying no to wage and benefit concessions.  Read the following excerpt from a June 21, 2002 press release entitled "United Airlines Flight Attendants Refuse to Give Concessions"

CHICAGO – Elected leaders from the Association of Flight Attendants, AFL-CIO, representing United Airlines flight attendants rejected a proposal from the carrier asking for wage and other pay concessions totaling about $90 million over three years.

"Our Contract is closed, we are not paid on par with other employees at our airline, and contract violations have not been addressed," said AFA United Master Executive Council President-elect Greg Davidowitch. "Flight attendants will not discuss concessions with United under these circumstances."

United's management has given the AFA a term sheet that asks the union for $100 Million in concessions.   While the specifics are negotiable,  UAL wants a total of $100 Million.   On the table for discussion, management proposed a 5.1% cut in pay, canceling future lump sum and wage increases under the current contract, cutting per diem to $1.50 per hour, and increasing the costs to the employees for medical coverage.  The list goes on.

Despite the rhetoric coming from the AFA, UAL's management is serious and has threatened to take UAL into bankruptcy if it does not receive wage concessions from its employee groups.   In bankruptcy, the court could impose a contract and wage rates.   See the AFA question and answers on bankruptcy.

As you watch the AFA melodrama at UAL, remember their two campaign slogans.   We predict that the AFA will have to take concessions, and the very same volunteers will find that their much touted contractual protections will be illusory.  

United Airlines wants to cut labor costs 20% Workers: It sounds like a restructuring

By Marilyn Adams

United Airlines has told its unions this week that it needs to cut annual labor costs by about 20% for six years to qualify for federal loan guarantees and avoid bankruptcy court, say people familiar with the talks.

The target, $1.5 billion a year, would be combined with $500 million in savings in other areas. Some of the labor savings might be achieved through work-rule changes instead of pay cuts.

The development prompted the head of United's Air Line Pilots Association to question whether the Bush administration is using the Sept. 11-related loan program to permanently cut labor costs at United. Big cuts in labor costs at United, the world's second-largest airline, likely would ripple through the industry.

Pilot Paul Whiteford said Wednesday that he questions whether the Air Transportation Stabilization Board -- established to aid the airline industry -- is actually seeking a restructuring under the guise of a crisis-assistance plan.

The pilots union has been the only employee group willing to give temporary contract concessions to help United recover from heavy losses. That union's board had agreed to give up $520 million a year for three years. Non-union employees were to give up $430 million over three years.

''If the plan now is a restructuring, that's a totally different plan . . . to reach some other goal,'' Whiteford said.

Whiteford, who serves on the board of United's parent, UAL, declined to discuss specific numbers. A UAL spokesman declined comment. The company is on track to spend just under $7 billion in labor expenses this year.

UAL's demand puts the pilots and mechanics unions in a nearly impossible position. Because UAL is more than 50% employee owned, both unions have seats on the board. If UAL seeks Chapter 11 protection, employees' equity would be wiped out, and United could ask the bankruptcy court to void labor contacts.

UAL Chief Jack Creighton warned two weeks ago it would seek Chapter 11 protection if it can't win deep cost cuts from unions because it's unable to raise cash through normal channels to pay off $875 million in debt this fall. United has asked the government to guarantee $1.8 billion of a $2 billion loan.

At Wednesday's board meeting, UAL's directors heard from federal loan board executive director Dan Montgomery about the program. Montgomery didn't return a call Wednesday.

Union leaders said United's new numbers made them more pessimistic that a cost-cut agreement will be reached before the carrier's deadline in mid-September.

''Two weeks is not realistic,'' said Jeff Zack, a flight attendants spokesman.

For more on the AFA and UAL, visit the AFA UAL MEC website and read the "Dear AFA" message.  Also, you can read a copy of the concessions that UAL management is seeking

Item 3

We recently heard a rumor that AFA lead Organizer Nancy Lenk was leaving.  We do not know if she is leaving the Delta campaign, leaving Atlanta, leaving her employment with the AFA, or leaving for an all-expense-paid cruise to Cancun.  Whatever the case, we would like to wish her well on her journey.   Although we disagree with most everything she wrote, we recognize that she was hired to do a job.  She took a sputtering AFA campaign and forced a vote.  In the end, she got things done. 

If the AFA Board of Directors had any sense, it would find a way to make her the new AFA International President.  

Bon Voyage, Nancy.

Item 4

Still no word from the National Mediation Board (NMB) on the Delta case. Two appointments were recently confirmed.  With the NMB at full strength, it may be coming soon. 

August 2, 2002



Contact: NMB Public Information Line -- (202) 692-5050

Re: New Board Members Fitzmaurice and Hoglander Confirmed

The National Mediation Board has two new Board Members: Edward J. Fitzmaurice and Harry R. Hoglander were confirmed last night by the United States Senate.

Mr. Fitzmaurice comes to the Board from private law practice in Dallas, Texas. His experience as a labor lawyer includes twelve years Of Counsel to Hicks and Associates, and working as an Associate with Kern, Wooley and Maloney representing underwriters at Lloyd's. While also practicing law, Fitzmaurice was a Domestic Captain, Co-Pilot, and Flight Engineer for Braniff International Airlines for seventeen years. He is a former Captain of U. S. Marines, a graduate of Villanova University and attended Southern Methodist School of Law.

Mr. Hoglander comes to the Board from his position as a legislative specialist in the office of Congressman John Tierney. His work in the airline industry includes six years as a labor representative to the United States Aviation Bi-Lateral Delegation. He has served as Master Chairman of the TWA Master Executive Council, Executive Vice President of the Air Line Pilots Association, and as a Captain for Trans World Airlines. Mr. Hoglander was a Captain in the United States Air Force, and is a retired Lt. Colonel in the Massachusetts Air National Guard. He is a graduate of Florida State University and the Suffolk University School of Law.

Mr. Fitzmaurice was sworn in today, August 2, 2002. Mr. Hoglander will be sworn in on Tuesday, August 6, 2002.

Item 5

Do you think that unions should be held to the same financial reporting standards as corporations? Do you think that every union member should have right to decide if they want to continue to belong to a union?  This was e-mailed to us this month.  We thought that you might be interested.

Re:  Labor Department Annual Report revision proposals for corporations and unions
The Labor Department revision of LM-2’s, LM-3’s and LM-4’s legally requiring unions to quantify how much of workers’ dues are funneled into nonbargaining activities would help curtail union political abuses.  This reform will empower private-sector unionized workers to penalize political, lavish, and wasteful union spending as soon as they see it by resigning from the union and withholding their dues.
Unions Shielded from Certifying Accuracy of Financial Reports

In a July 10 roll-call vote, the U.S. Senate showed that its interest in preventing future business accounting scandals does not extend to labor union fraud.  The Union Accountability Amendment of the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act of 2002 (S.2673) was defeated by the 55 senators listed below.  The amendment was a minimal standard for union financial reports meant to hold accountable union officers who deliberately file false financial reports.

The amendment, offered by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), would have required that union financial-disclosure forms submitted to the Labor Department be independently audited, using procedures already applicable to public corporations.  Another provision in the amendment would merely have required union presidents and secretary-treasurers to certify the accuracy of the financial reports as must now be done for public corporations.  As was pointed out in the Senate floor debate, the Labor Department reports that, just in the past four years, there have been roughly 600 indictments and 525 convictions for union fraud.

The following senators voted to kill the amendment that would have required union presidents and secretary-treasurers to certify the accuracy of their financial reports.

Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii)
Max Baucus (D-Mont.)
Evan Bayh (D-Ind.)
Joseph Biden (D-Del.)
Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.)
Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)
John Breaux (D-La.)
Robert Byrd (D-W.V.)
Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.)
Jean Carnahan (D-Mo.)
Thomas Carper (D-Del.)
Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.)
Max Cleland (D-Ga.)
Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.)
Kent Conrad (D-N.D.)
Jon Corzine (D-N.J.)
Tom Daschle (D-S.D.)
Mark Dayton (D-Minn.)
Chris Dodd (D-Conn.)
Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.)
Richard Durbin (D-Ill.)
John Edwards (D-N.C.)
Russell Feingold (D-Wis.)
Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)
Bob Graham (D-Fla.)
Tom Harkin (D-Iowa)
Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.)
Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii)
James Jeffords (I-Vt.)
Tim Johnson (D-S.D.)
Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.)
John Kerry (D-Mass.)
Herb Kohl (D-Wis.)
Mary Landrieu (D-La.)
Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)
Carl Levin (D-Mich.)
Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.)
Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.)
Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.)
Zell Miller (D-Ga.)
Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska)
Patty Murray (D-Wash.)
Bill Nelson (D-Fla.)
Ben Nelson (D-Neb.)
Jack Reed (D-R.I.)
Harry Reid (D-Nev.)
Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.)
Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.)
Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.)
Gordon Smith (R-Ore.)
Arlen Specter (R-Pa.)
Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)
Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.)
Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.)
Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)

Item  6

Big unions do not seem to be in vogue these days.   The Professional Flight Attendants Association (PFAA), an independent union seeking to represent the Northwest Airlines (NWA) flight attendants, says that it is close to having enough support to force an election to replace the International Brotherhood of Teamsters  (IBT).   PFAA says that the IBT is more interested in representing truck drivers than Northwest flight attendants.   We wish all NWA flight attendants luck in obtaining the representation of their choice.  Click here to read the article.


Item  7

With bankruptcy looming over the two main AFA carriers and thousands of AFA members on the street, you would think that the PFAA election would not concern the AFA.  After all, the AFA has limited resources.  Yet, Patricia Friend, President of AFA International, recently sent a letter to all Northwest flight attendants.   We have included a few excerpts from it.

Dear Northwest Flight Attendant,

We have been advised that a group calling itself PFAA is urging you to sign a card requesting a representation election that could result in you forfeiting your Teamsters’ membership.

As the elected flight attendant leader of the largest flight attendant union in the world, the Association of Flight Attendants, AFL-CIO, I’m writing to reinforce the power of unity and the weakness of a divided flight attendant group.

Some of the power your group of flight attendants has is derived from the mere fact that you are represented by a union. But that power is limited if that’s all you have – an independent union. . . .

As members of the Teamsters, you are part of one of the most powerful unions in the world.  . . . 

[A]n independent union simply does not have the resources or strength in numbers to win that kind of positive change . . . .

The problems and challenges that would face you as members of an independent union would be insurmountable, and would severely hinder your quest to improve your job and our profession.

We are including her letter in this update for two reasons.  First, we were impressed with the way PFAA responded to the letter.   Second, it shows that AFA policy is fickle.  Read the PFAA response.

PFAA Responds to AFA President’s Denouncement of Independent Associations



In a letter dated August 2, 2002 , Patricia Friend, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), speaks out negatively against the PFAA and independent unions.  In her prepared statement, Friend wrote, “I urge you to work within your union, the Teamsters, to change things for the better for flight attendants at Northwest.  The problems and challenges that would face you as members of an independent union would be insurmountable, and would severely hinder your quest to improve your job and profession.”


 Ms. Friend also states, “AFA has worked with the Teamsters and the AFL-CIO to win flight and duty time regulations for flight attendants, elimination of smoking on all flights and whistleblower protection.  We have worked together to protect the number of exits on commercial aircraft, the required evacuation space at over wing exits and the positioning of cabin jumpseats to allow a direct view of the cabin.”


Based on AFA's history with Northwest Airlines, Ms. Friend appears to be confused.  Why has the AFA suddenly taken a negative position regarding our desire to depart from the IBT?  It would appear that she has decided to bow to the AFL-CIO and join the Teamsters, working against the Northwest flight attendants. 


The AFA has attempted and failed on three separate occasions, to organize the Northwest flight attendants.  Each time the AFA sent out literature speaking negatively about the IBT.  Why is the AFA now telling us how great the Teamsters are?  Following are exact statements from AFA literature used in their past organizing campaigns against the IBT.


What the AFA had to say about the IBT in past elections:


 1). “The Brotherhood, however, prefers to avoid the truth about its notorious history and reputation. A reputation it would prefer that you know nothing about.  Consider the following: Dishonesty and deceit continues to exist at both the Local and National levels of the Brotherhood where the Union is often mobster influenced and riddled with graft and corruption.” (AFA campaign literature dated January 1992)


2). “It is commonplace to read articles in the nation’s leading newspapers and magazines reporting the IBT’s involvement in racketeering, embezzlement, jury tampering, election rigging, murder and the U.S. government’s investigation of on-going, illegal Teamster activities.” (AFA campaign literature dated January 1992)


3).  “The IBT was thrown out of the National AFL-CIO Labor Union Federation for over 30 years because of its mobster connections and was shunned by the Federation until the U.S. government’s take over and attempted clean-up of the IBT.”  (AFA campaign literature dated January 1992)


4). “Can we afford to wait around for years while the IBT tries to reform itself from within? How long will it take the IBT to really rid itself of over 50 years of graft and corruption?” (AFA campaign literature dated January 1992)


5).  “Every flight attendant union recognizes that the Flight and Duty Time Bill (S.1010), is one of the most critical pieces of legislation affecting flight attendants but the Teamsters lobbyist stated, ‘while the IBT supports S.1010, it cannot actively work for its passage because it is more concerned with trucking issues’.” (AFA campaign literature dated January 1992)


6). “Promises are cheap. Performance requires dedication and service to flight attendants. Teamsters will never have the dedication to flight attendants that AFA, an all flight attendant union, has.  Why would the Teamsters extend themselves to service less than one percent of their membership? Teamster leaders are not flight attendants. Are pilots concerned about flight attendants? Are flight attendants concerned about truckers? Are Teamsters concerned about flight attendants?  Only when they are worried about losing their dues.” (AFA campaign literature dated January 1992)


7). Northwest flight attendants rarely heard from the IBT before AFA circulated authorization cards. Only now are they paying attention and showing interest. As soon as the election is over, their interest will vanish, whether they win or lose. (AFA campaign literature dated January 1992)


8). “It would take more than 10 years for the IBT to develop the expertise AFA already has, and that is required, to represent our unique profession -- expertise in EAP, Legislative Affairs, Research, Negotiations and Safety -- not to mention the years it will take to rid the Teamsters of corruption.” (AFA campaign literature dated December 1991)


9). “The IBT scare tactics are obvious. They are implying that if you vote for the AFA you will lose your contract. That is simply untrue.” (AFA campaign literature dated 14 January 1992)


10). “Many NWA flight attendants thought they were contributing to a U.S. economic poll upon answering their phones the last few weeks. But after several questions, it was evident to those queried that the pollster was hired by the Teamsters, who think it is clever to ‘pull the wool’ over the eyes of its own dues-paying members.” (AFA campaign literature dated 14 January 1992)


11). “We believe the Teamsters do have an attitude toward flight attendants. They do not understand the uniqueness of the profession, nor do they have the expert resources.” (AFA campaign literature dated 14 January 1992)


12). “With the IBT’s condescension and disdain toward flight attendants’ intelligence only makes you wonder if they really believe that flight attendants will still vote for them. Because of the Teamsters’ opinion of flight attendants, they can’t be ‘up front’ and honest.” AFA campaign literature dated 14 January 1992 )


13).  “A democratic vote, taken now—before contract negotiations--- is the right time to decide which Union should negotiate your next contract. A vote after the contract is already negotiated is a vote too late. Don’t let the IBT tell you again to let them negotiate for you. Look at the history of negotiations with the IBT. Are you happy with what you have?” (AFA campaign literature dated February 1992)


14). “The IBT promises to do a better job because the union is under ‘reform’. Its new president, Ron Carey, is leading the ‘reform’ movement.” (AFA campaign literature dated February 1992)


15). “AFA fights for flight attendant health and safety. AFA is instrumental in lobbying for exit row seating, cabin air quality, security, radiation risks, flight attendant training, flight attendant health, cart design and carpal tunnel syndrome and high density seating. While the AFA fights daily for the rights of flight attendants the IBT has been less impressive with their efforts on Capitol Hill.” (AFA campaign literature dated February 1992)


16). “The FAA, the National Transportation Safety Board, Congress and the DOT ask AFA about flight attendant issues -- NOT THE TRUCKERS’ UNION.”  (AFA campaign literature dated January 1992)


17), “If AFA opened its arms to the NWA flight attendants, said the Brotherhood, then the Brotherhood would begin organizing an anti-AFA campaign at United.”  (AFA literature dated 02 October 1991)


We could go on for days quoting AFA literature used during the 1976, 1986 and 1992 representational elections.  The theme is the same in all of their publications:  The IBT just isn’t the right union for flight attendants. 


So why is the AFA changing their perspective of the IBT?  Is Ms. Friend worried that if she supports the rights of a membership election at Northwest, she might lose some of her own members to independent unions?  Could it be the IBT manipulated the AFL-CIO into pressuring Ms. Friend to write the letter? 


Now here is the real shocker.  In a letter to the Northwest flight attendants dated 2 November 1991 , past AFA President Dee Maki states, “The democratically elected leadership of the AFA decided that we could not bow to Brotherhood threats and leave such a proud and important flight attendant group without proper representation. Therefore, we are now making available to all NWA flight attendants the confidential cards which are required by the National Mediation Board (NMB) as the first step toward changing union representation.” She closes her letter by stating, “The decision about union representation is entirely up to you.  If, as NWA flight attendants, you decide that you want to become part of AFA, you will have the complete and unswerving support of the leadership and 30,000 members of the Association of Flight Attendants, AFL-CIO.”


Whom do we believe now?  Facts speak the truth.  The truth is that since the AFA can't have us, they are bowing to the requests of the AFL-CIO dictatorship.  In doing so, they have lost their credibility. 


How do the AFL-CIO, the IBT, and the AFA know what's best for the Northwest flight attendants?  The Northwest flight attendants know what's important to us.  We will not be swayed by the political posturing of other labor organizations. 


If you'd like to contact Pat Friend to express your outrage regarding  her letter, she may be reached as follows:


Phone:  800-424-2401    Fax:  202-712-9798             

E-Mail:  click here to e-mail Pat Friend


Or by writing:   Association of Flight Attendants, 1275 K Street NW, Fifth Floor, Washington, D.C. 20005

Ms. Friend's letter makes us wonder who is running the AFA.   As we pointed out last month, the AFA is in financial trouble.  It reported a deficit of $565,883 on its 2001 LM-2.  It also reported a grant of $567,884 from the AFL-CIO.  See AFA 2001 LM-2.   In our opinion, the AFL-CIO forced Ms. Friend to write the letter.

A little history is in order.  As you saw in the PFAA response, the AFA would like to represent the NWA flight attendants.  That is why it has tried to raid Northwest in the past.  However, it cannot raid NWA now because both the IBT and the AFA are AFL-CIO affiliates.  AFL-CIO affiliates are prevented from raiding each other.

If PFAA is successful in its quest to become the independent union representing NWA flight attendants, NWA flight attendants will no longer be affiliated the AFL-CIO.  Once this happens, the AFA can try to decertify PFAA and become the bargaining agent for the NWA flight attendants.  Remember, the AFA has a stated goal to represent all flight attendants.  Before the AFA can again try to represent NWA, NWA has to go independent.

Based on the past, we feel that Ms. Friend and the AFA would like to see PFAA succeed so they can again pursue the NWA flight attendants.  This begs the question: why did she throw her support to the IBT?  

Ms. Friend's quest for Delta has driven the AFA to the point of insolvency. Last year,  Ms. Friend had to go to the AFL-CIO for the second time in three years to ask for bail out money.  With her membership dues base continuing to shrink, it is possible that she may have to ask for more money again this year.  

Basically, we feel that she wrote the letter because she is not a position to say no to any request by the AFL-CIO.  The AFA's need for financial support from the AFL-CIO  takes away her independence.    When IBT President Jimmy Hoffa needed support, he asked Ms. Friend.  The AFA's weakened position under her leadership puts her in the position where she could not say no.  Hence, the letter supporting the IBT.

The AFA will never be an independent voice for its members until it can get control of its balance sheet.  Until it has financial resources of its own, it will continue to be a weak union.

Item 8

Beginning Sunday, Sept. 1, 2002, Delta will raise the per diem rate for both domestic and international flight attendants by 10 cents, to $2.20 per hour away from base for domestic and $2.70 for international. Our per diem is also scheduled to increase in September of 2003 and 2004.  Now, we can buy better beer on our layovers.

Y'all come back now, ya' hear.





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Last modified: December 13, 2008