Afa-cwa Merge Or Go It Along


Dec 29, 2002
CWA-AFA Merger OR Go It Alone

Statement of question: Should AFA merge with CWA and become AFA-CWA or
remain a single craft union?

Dear Members of Local 40:

The USA MEC met with the entire AFA Board of Directors In Boston, MA on
October 27-30, 2003 for their Annual meeting.

The statement above is before you, and a ballot will circulate to all the
members of AFA including US Airways AFA membership.

Last summer, during the 2002 restructuring proposals, I wrote in one of my
newsletters to you that with the deletion of our long standing “no
furlough” language in our contract, and under the threat of bankruptcy,
that we as a union would “cease to exist” if we conceded to this proposal as
there would be a “ domino effect” that would permeate across our industry
and further erode our ranks and our profession. US Airways was the first
airline to go into Bankruptcy in spite of Labor’s concessions claiming the
woes of 9/11, only to turn around again for round #2 two months later for
the winter restructuring agreement. Approximately 5,400 of our ranks have
been removed from our property and over 20,000 employees have lost their
jobs at US Airways of late. THIS IS THE “NEW RESTRUCTURING BUSINESS PLAN”, and we as a majority have
conceded to this plan for whatever excuses we can cite…it is what it is.

Labor has given this management billions in concessions, terminated pension
plans for pilots, egregious violations of our contracts, including
management’s attempt to “outsource” the IAM heavy maintenance work, and
violations that continue against all labor contracts in order for this
management to steal even more cost savings from employees. We have opened
“Pandora’s box” for the entire industry, and it is up to us to close it.

I stand before you NOT opposed to an AFA- CWA merger. Nor am I opposed to a
dues increase of $6 with incremental increases of 2% going forward every two
years. I am, however, opposed to the membership not having the choice to
choose which path our union should take. The ballot that will be coming out
from AFA International, represents that choice and will go to the entire
AFA membership of all airlines to vote on this monumental decision for our
union and our future.

You will have the CHOICE. I ask that you exercise your VOTE.

Management has hinted in the media and in Dave’s weekly hotline, that in
order for US Airways to compete against the Low Cost Carriers, we as labor would need
to continue sacrificing and giving concessions. Round #3 is before us and it
is only a little over 1 year that management was given billions, including 2
bailouts from the government in order to survive. We have emerged from
Bankruptcy and yet, are one of the few airlines that can’t stabilize or
make a profit. Management continues to beat that drum with the noise that
it is labor costs that are the problem and we can’t compete. What’s wrong
with this picture? Could the business plan be flawed?
They continue to hammer Pennsylvania Delegation for concessions for the
Pittsburgh Hub to ensure a Hub for the Poverty- wage airline Mid-Atlantic
Airways. War has been waged! The employees of U and all of labor in the
entire Industry are in battle to protect our rights as workers, our
benefits, and our wages. There is no show of retreat now. There is no show
of weakness now; there is no raising of a “white flag” of surrender now.

Your MEC sent out to you last month a ballot for an assessment of $10 PER
YEAR, for a STRIKE FUND that would ensure “fairness” come 2009 when we go to
negotiate from a position of strength. A Strike fund that if funded, would
cover Flight Pay Loss, for those who were targeted if a job action would be
necessary. The membership voted it down by 990 votes against. 4,000 never
bothered to vote. Do you have any idea what message that sent to management?
Management tells me that I, as your president, am the only one that is
dissatisfied with the status quo? Is this true? Management is coming back
to us for round #3. What is left is the work rules, folks, and our
flexibility; what little we have left of that in this “slave ship”.
I ask you…. do we fight? Or do we surrender? Perception is everything.
Management has already commented to me that we had very few members attend
the “sick” leafleting on June 5 at the airport, they commented once again
about the lack of support on the strike fund, they commented to me on the
few members we had that walked at the Labor Day Parade, they commented to me
of the lack of members that came to support the IAM at the Court House and
that I should mind my own AFA business. They commented to me on the lack of
attendance of the last two local union meetings. Management is watching and
they are paying attention! They believe that our members have not reached
their threshold for “pain” yet! I am your General in the front line saying
CHARGE, and I turn around to look behind me, and my troops have retreated.
I have written to you this before…tell me where you choose to go and I will
lead you there. But, folks, please have a plan.

CWA has 700,000 members strong. They have many more resources and money
than we do. They share our plight and our fight to endeavor for fairness and
balance for the working American in Corporate America! If you decide to vote
for a merger, there will be no union dues increases for 4 years, and there
is up to a 4 year “opt out” if we decide collectively that affiliation is
not for us. That is the terms of the agreement. CWA has promised that AFA
will maintain its same structure, constitution and autonomy.

The other viable option is the raising of union dues to $6 commencing
January 1, 2004. AFA had approved a contingency budget in case merger
ratification should fail. These dues will have cost incremental increases
commencing every two years by 2% starting in 2006. We will be able to
maintain our services and fight the fight solo, as we have done in the past.

Either vote will ensure your Union will survive this war, and we will
PREVAIL. If we do nothing, with no contingency plan, we will surely implode.
This vote is not just about USAirways, or United, but about all the carriers
that are under the AFA umbrella. We are all fighting that fight now, with
amendable contract dates in the same year for many of the carriers. We need
to plan ahead and be prepared. We must stop being reactive and begin being

Ballot packets will be sent and polls open on November 6 at 10 am through December 1, 2003 at 12:00 pm Eastern Standard. Please read instructions carefully. If you have any problems, please call AFA International at 1-800-424-2401, prompt 0 and ask for membership. If you have any questions or comments regarding the question before you, please contact your Local Office at 412-262-3329.

I will not tell you how to vote, only that you vote! Both options are viable
options and will ensure that your union will stay strong and will meet the
challenges that lie ahead for all of us.

United we stand with you forever,

In Solidarity,
Teddy Xidas
Local Executive President PIT, PIW, MDA
Local 40 Officers
Until today, I had not realized it was the entire AFA voting whether to merge with CWA. I thought it was just the USAirways part of AFA. No wonder someones been PMing and typing here today all of a sudden. Can't wait to see WHY they think it's bad for the flight attendants. Reasons gentlemen?
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When management writes it will be mostly to discredit the PIT AFA President, who they mostly despise and who they perceive most threatening to their "plan".
Huge flight attendant push at United to vote "NO". But seeing that the AFA works only for itself (to collect our dues) and not for the membership, we are sure they will pass the merger regardless of what the ballots say. Good luck to all of us, we will need it.

Just wait.......after the initial four years is up, our membership dues will skyrocket.
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Too bad you feel that way. True, United does not want to merge, as they are the largest carrier under the AFA umbrella, and they truly believe that we should remain a "single craft" union.

Unions are not utopic. They have their problems, and their leaders are only human and failable. Many of the smaller regional carriers cannot endure union dues increase and promoted the CWA merger as a viable solution. Some encouraged to remain "solo" and increase dues. And then yet others debated on the floor that members should have the right to choose the course the union should take. And so the ballot for "choice" was voted in by the majority of the board. That is my understanding.
I look at Delta flight attendants and think: Gee, they don't have a union at all and seem to have the best work rules out there. Unions protect jobs for the lazy and unwilling to work.

I did see the AFA put on a tremendous show of member support once (and LOTS of union money too) A flight attendant was taking drugs and drinking inflight and when the person was fired upon landing, the AFA jumped right in with legal representation and support. Of course the doofus got his job back because he had an "illness". No Thank You!

AFA has one make more money for themselves.

I'd like to see this ballot: Do you want a union at all or would you rather go it alone with United management? At least United tells us when they are going to make us bend over.
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Again, that is an incorrect statement, and only your perception. Delta's work rules are substandard to the rest of the Industry. What they had was the highest in wages for f/as, and that is because their management bought the f/as to NOT have a union.

However, the Delta f/as took huge hits in concessions, and their furloughs started from highest paid most seniority first.

How does AFA keep dues funds for themselves? The leadership is paid the same as f/as in wages by their respective carrier. If the carrier has a line of flying of 80 hours, the union leader receives 80 hours. Whatever they could hold. Many of the leadership fly in addition to their union work as their budgets are very small specifically if the carrier organized is regional and small. Regionals carriers make up most of AFA. Only United and USairways are considered Majors.
I think ya'll (yinz?) would be better served as a craft union. It's clear, however, that two things would have to happen in order to make such a thing occur (I'm assuming):

1. Find a way to reduce the dues burden on the regional F/As, for whom an increase would probably be fatal from a financial standpoint.

2. Keep a lot more of the dues closer to the individual LECs.

I personally think that conceptually, AMFA has it right (although it's not a huge secret that I'm not a union fan). I also think that going after DL was a strategic mistake--by attempting to garner a larger membership, AFA ended up spending a whole boatload of money for nothing.

Look at what has happened with the IAM (eg, IAM and IAM-M and so forth). From a layperson's perspective, I have to think that agent duties and FA duties could potentially be whipsawed against one another at some point.
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You make some very good points and have good insight on many of the problems with unions.

Union dues would be very difficult for the regionals to absorb, and it does make sense that they would be big proponents of a merger. One correction, CWA members are not only res agents and cust. agents. There are 700,000 members and they are from the writers guild and verison phone co. etc. They also said we would stay autonomous as AFA. Dues however, have always been a problem for the Board every year at these annual meetings. Its debated every year and then squashed because no one wants to raise the dues. No one. Its voted down every year for the past 10 years. With regard to Delta...hindsight is always 20/20. If the Board members had to do it all over again, and the Board had a crystal ball in 1996 when it was voted on to budget for Delta organizing, very few would vote to do so.

This year, we have over $2 Million deficit that we just can't balance without a dues increase or affiliating with someone to help us. The day the Board finally came to a vote took from 8:30 am through 12:05 am the next morning. So, it was a very long process of debates on what can the union do to solve the deficit problem.

Your point on being a separate union airline specific would be great. Only thing, it would mean to go without a union for a 2 year period, and we could not risk that with this kind of management. Especially when they are hinting to reduce even more labor costs to compete.
Fly said:
I look at Delta flight attendants and think: Gee, they don't have a union at all and seem to have the best work rules out there. Unions protect jobs for the lazy and unwilling to work.

I did see the AFA put on a tremendous show of member support once (and LOTS of union money too) A flight attendant was taking drugs and drinking inflight and when the person was fired upon landing, the AFA jumped right in with legal representation and support. Of course the doofus got his job back because he had an "illness". No Thank You!

AFA has one make more money for themselves.

I'd like to see this ballot: Do you want a union at all or would you rather go it alone with United management? At least United tells us when they are going to make us bend over.
Yep unions are evil entities and not needed cause corporate America is more than generous to the working class stiff that make them rich.

I hope you always have your health and never run into misfortune so you never have to lean on an evil union to protect your ###.

Unions provide a very necessary balance, and obviously that is something you don't need because you can do it on your own and good ole corporate America will stand behind, always....sure they will.

Yep history plainly shows everything was peachy before the unions got involved, yes indeed.
Her troops have lost faith in their valiant leader. Teddy’s memo to her group is an act of desperation. It is time for you to stop complaining about CCY. It is not all about YOU. I don't see other LEC Presidents slamming the company in the media. She is the same individual that recruited Gangwal to represent her group on the BOD.

Teddy stated. I am your General in the front line saying CHARGE, and I turn around to look behind me, and my troops have retreated.

Why have the troops retreated? Could they be seeking new leadership? The great wizard informs me that someone could be moving up the ladder soon. :down: :angry:

The AFA membership should vote NO concerning the CWA merger. It is all about collecting union dues.
Hawk said:
The AFA membership should vote NO concerning the CWA merger. It is all about collecting union dues.
This statement makes no sense. I thought the AFA said they would have to RAISE union dues if they DIDNT merge, not if they did. I thought it said a yes vote would keep things as is for at least 4 years and that a no vote would mean an immediate raise. How is this all about union dues if this is the case? They're not voting on dropping the union so they're going to pay dues somewhere. Please explain further this comment and give some real reasons you think they shouldnt merge. Thanks.
Airline unions are at the leading edge of a much larger issue.

Do we want to continue to retreat to the 1920's, or maintain a middle class?

Hoover Republicans and country club Democrats believe business interests should be unfettered, and unregulated.

The plutocrats deregulated the savings and loans under George I (after sufficent tribute was made in the shape of campaign contributions), and we taxpayers got stuck with the bailout.

The plutocrats rescinded Glass-Stegall under Clinton the Lesser, and we are now reaping the harvest in the form of stock house and mutual fund scandals.

Venerable accounting firms such as Arthur Anderson and Ernst and Young have fallen into disrepute when allowed to consult for, as opposed to strictly audit, their clients.

No matter how technologically advanced we become, the 3 pounds of jelly between our ears has not changed in 10 millenia. Pride, greed and envy are ever with us.

When we were little, we put our hands in the cookie jar. Mom held us accountable.

Same deal now, only we're all grown up. If you let ANYBODY, prophet, priest or CEO have unfettered access to the cookie jar, they'll take all the cookies, regardless of how many you were promised or worked for.

The plutocrats would have you believe the market will hold business accountable, and I actually heard Jack Kemp make the pitch this week that regulation was the reason for unemployment. I guess he's right: if we're all working for room and board, we'd probably have full employment. The fact is Founders devised checks and balances due to their understanding of human nature. Those checks and balances are needed in ALL human endeavours.

Unions are one imperect tool standing against the plutocrats. We believe in work, and that work will feed, shelter and educate our families. We believe in having a say in the affairs or our company, and our country.

Bush is leaning on airline unions because:

1. We're high profile - if we go, it's a major psychological blow to labor everywhere.

2. Revenge for 2000 - unions had boatloads of volunteers go to Florida for the recount debacle.

3. NLRA - airlines are not right to work; membership is near mandatory. This means ready-made mailing lists and $$$$$.

4. 9/11/2001 - Not just airline execs are taking advantage. Bush is kicking them while they're down. You don't think some execs and WH ops have had a talk or two, do you?

5. Breeding - old money finds it so gauche when the hired help acts out.

No doubt; we employees at most airlines have taken a major hit, and it's just getting started. And the battle to turn this tide is not merely political - it will be fought on many fronts.

And a battle it will be, and PitBull is standing at ground- zero of that battle. I am sure she is imperfect, and flawed. I am also sure she is the right person for the job. Why? Because she's joined the fray, not standing on the sidelines.

It is up to us to join the cause. If not now, when? If not here, where?

'Bull, you have the BIGGEST stones, girl.
Am I the only f/a here that feels we are being black mailed into voting for CWA? Just 2 years ago our Union leadership was fighting to keep from raising our dues. They said "No, he** NO" now if we don't vote yes, our dues will go up. What did AFA do when we had the same amount of members that we do now, 8 years ago? We had the same dues then. They were able to have a budget and operate fine then. Why didn't the International office just lay off people, and get a smaller office? Why didn't they look back at their budget way back when, and use those numbers. If we are at the same pay scale we were 8-10 years ago, why can't our International do the same? I have to pay my house payment and car payments with my new pay scale. I just tightened my belt and stopped spending money I didn't have. Power and greed are not only our management's problem, sounds like AFA has the same dysfunction!
CWA was supposed to get it's Res and CS employees into a pension AFTER our concession package. This has not been done. If I were AFA, I would get some promises that your pension won't be ending.

This is 1 important priority that CWA was to look into. The explanation, "too many women in your Union, who live too long to make a pension worthwhile".

This would be a real PLUS if the Union merger changed this problem for Res and CS!