Legislators Join Fight to Save Retiree Health Benefits
Nineteen U.S. Senators
signed on to a letter authored by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) asking
United Airlines CEO Glenn Tilton to adhere to the agreement with
retirees and reconsider the airline's planned changes to retiree
health benefits because of the hardship it will bring to them and
A portion of the Senators' letter read:
"We understand that in the time since United entered bankruptcy
proceedings, its employees and retirees have made many sacrifices
to help United reduce its costs and reorganize successfully.
Pilots, flight attendants, maintenance workers, and customer
service workers have made substantial concessions to assist the
"As part of these concessions, employees have agreed to a
reduction in future medical benefits and an increase in health care
premiums. United gave employees the option of retiring before July
1, 2003 in order to qualify for existing retiree medical benefits
without reduction and without increased costs. Thousands of
employees retired in the first six months of 2003 in order to
preserve their retiree health care coverage."
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, over 2,500 flight attendants retired
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 modest pensions just to continue health
A letter from members of the House was sent to United on Feb.
13. Retirees and active flight attendants personally delivered
thousands of letters of protest to Tilton on Feb 13. Copies of the
letters from the Senate and the House of Representatives, as well
as a selection of letters sent by retirees, may be viewed at www.unitedafa.org
"We are thankful for
the overwhelming support from both the Senate and the House on this
issue," said United AFA Master Executive Council President Greg
Davidowitch. "Corporate America is in a race to destroy the
security of health care for seniors and United Airlines is leading
the way. The very people who have given decades of dedicated
service to this airline are repaid for their commitment with
management's ill-conceived plan that will leave many retirees
without options and flat broke."
On Friday, the bankruptcy court ruled to appoint an examiner to
investigate United Airlines' scheme to intentionally mislead
thousands of flight attendants into ending their careers or
retiring early, defrauding them out of their retirement
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.