United Airlines‘ (Chicago) flight attendants, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), have filed for federal mediation under the jurisdiction of the National Mediation Board (NMB).
According to AFA, the filing was done “in order to bring three years of negotiations to a close and allow United to complete its merger with Continental/Continental Micronesia.”
“A clear dispute exists and it is time for federal mediation. We are calling on management to negotiate a fair contract within the reality of record profits. Three years after the talks for a joint contract began, management doesn’t seemed focused on negotiating a contract Flight Attendants can ratify,” said AFA International President Sara Nelson. “The longterm success of United Airlines depends upon current executives finishing this merger, which includes negotiating a joint Flight Attendant contract, and making good on promises to employees, Capitol Hill and the traveling public.”
Mediation under the Railway Labor Act is a formal, statutorily prescribed process. The mediator directs the negotiations with statutory authority including time and place of meetings, subjects to be discussed in a given week and the general approach to negotiations. NMB mediation is not binding arbitration. The contract would only become effective by agreement of both parties and it would be subject to membership ratification. If mediation does not result in an agreement, the union may petition for a release, which would lead to a strike deadline. AFA is focused on reaching an agreement that Flight Attendants can ratify and which contributes to completing the operational integration of United Airlines.
Without a joint contract, Flight Attendants continue to work separately and on airplanes that are designated as pre-merger United, Continental or Continental Micronesia. This leads to inefficiencies for the airline and Flight Attendants, and these inefficiencies are often experienced by passengers as well. Negotiations updates are posted on OurContract.org and further explanation of mediation and the positions of the Union and Company may be found on this website.
“Management’s failure to participate in realistic merged contract negotiations seems to be a symptom of a larger problem for our airline. We are concerned that management is not focused on completing this merger or running United Airlines for longterm success. A three billion dollar share buy back and investment in a foreign airline without any attempt to invest in United’s frontline is troubling. Management needs to position United to compete with any airline in the world. That starts with negotiating fairly with the women and men who breathe life into the Friendly Skies,” Nelson stated.
Copyright Photo: Keith Burton/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 777-222 ER N793UA (msn 26946) approaches the runway at London (Heathrow).