Fri, Feb 13, 2004
Union: Labor Peace Strained Over Retiree Benefits
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 an 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
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
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 were also picketing and leafleting at Ft.
Lauderdale Airport (FL) when Ted's first flight landed Thursday
afternoon. More passenger outreach events took place in Las Vegas
and Seattle where retirees were 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.
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