Afa-cwa Merge Or Go It Along

I got this via email today. I think it's important to share.


Please share the following newsletter with your flying partners. E-mail it, download it, print copies and share it with those who do not have email access. Share it with flying partners at other airlines and across the United system. Based on the latest issue of Flightlog and the other information about the merger with CWA that has been sent out by the International Office, many of you have contacted me about not getting objective, unbiased information. I will continue to provide you with information on the "other side" of the issue so that you may make a truly informed vote. In addition to my editorial information, I will pass along newsletters with details pertinent to the discussion.

After long debate at the BOD last week, barely 2/3 of the delegates voted to merge with CWA and send out a ballot to the entire membership. A Constitutional change takes 2/3 approval. Although the International President, Pat Friend, originally wrote the agenda item calling for the approval to read that the BOD would make the decision and the members would only approve the merger agreement, the BOD did vote to allow the members to make the decision. The President from UAL ORD Council 8 called the original agenda item "a travesty. "

Paul MacKinnon, the International Secretary-Treasurer, spoke out against the merger. He also said members were only getting one side of the story. He said, contrary to our position in the Spring when the merger affiliation was approved by the Executive Board, our financial picture has improved and in fact, we will break even this year and have already returned all the money CWA sent us. He did say simply due to increased costs of goods and services we needed to raise the dues by $6. to $45. if we were to remain independent. (Note, dues have not been increased for the past 11 years and although I was adamantly opposed to increasing the dues while the money was going to Delta Organizing, I do believe a modest increase is now justified.)

Nevertheless, the BOD also voted a contingency budget in case the merger failed which calls for a $6. dues increase ($45.) with a provision to cover future increases in the cost of goods and services capped at 2% every two years ($45.90 in 2006, $46.82 in 2008, etc. until 2016). (We fought tooth and nail for a more modest $3. increase. I identified at least $1 that could be saved and still provide more $$ for the MEC and LEC budgets but the BOD would not budge. Some have said the dues increase is blackmail to scare you into voting for the merger. I believe it could be viewed as a protection against unknown and much higher increases possible at the end of the 4 year freeze with CWA.)

You will be asked whether you want to merge with CWA and have your dues frozen for 4 years at $39 with no promises after that, or to remain an independent Union, AFA a union of, by and for Flight Attendants and pay $6. more in dues.

In the words of a Chicago Flight Attendant at the Town Hall meeting in ORD held by Pat Friend before the BOD, "It's a no brainer, I'll pay more dues to keep our Union." Let's examine what's at stake and why I believe we should not merge with a larger Union. Let me begin by making it clear I believe CWA is a good union but not for us.

1) We are told that bigger is better, we must join a larger organization to fight management. Here's what we have to lose. We have a charter with the AFL-CIO which provides us support and help from a much larger organization than CWA. We received direct help from them during our struggles this past Winter to keep UAL operating and reach agreement with the Company. We will lose that charter.

2) Our charter provides direct access to decisions made by Labor affecting our lives, and support for our issues through State and Local AFL-CIO councils and the positions we hold on those councils. We are told we will probably be able to retain those positions. How will that happen when some of the councils' constitutions specifically call for only one delegate per Union? I believe "probably" is the operative word here. Probably not.

3) We are told a bigger union will give us better access to the power brokers in Washington. They just don't know Flight Attendants. We are resourceful and we are tenacious. We may not have access to every Senator or Congressional representative, but we manage to talk to their aides who, for the most part, write the legislation anyway.

4) We are told we need the money to fight management. Before the BOD at the Town Hall meetings we were told if we don’t merge, AFA could "cease to exist." Two weeks later, at the BOD, we find out not only are we going to break even for 2003 but we don't need the $$ from CWA. True, we lost $5 million in dues money because of the furloughs. But, not only is UAL recalling Flight Attendants early but USAir is also and the smaller regional airlines are hiring like crazy. The downturn, although more severe than any we have had in the past, will not last forever. We have $2.5 million in our AFA reserve fund. This year alone we are putting another $90,000 into the reserves.. What's the panic?

5) We have been told a lot of things but what have we not been told? Only recently we learned we will be required to leave our offices in Washington and move into CWA space. At the BOD we learned that there is a hiring freeze at CWA, that at their convention they cut budgets by 5% to 50%. Do we need their money or do they need ours??

6) If the merger is approved, we will present CWA with a budget for AFA which, in my opinion, is inflated and calls for a $3 million deficit. It includes hiring new positions at AFA. Where does the money come from if CWA is cutting their budgets, where do the new staff people come from while CWA is in a hiring freeze? Pat Friend said at the BOD, "It's not guaranteed but our AFA priorities will be met." I say--If it sounds too good to be true…!

7) Last, but to me most important, our Union is one of the very few that gives the power directly to the members. Although it is a representational structure, your Local President is part of the highest governing body and, as such, you have direct access to the decisions. If you don't like what's being done you can vote the person out of office or more drastically recall her or him. In CWA, although we are told we maintain our autonomy, we do not maintain our independence and our access to decisions. The Executive Board of CWA through their Strategic Planning and Budgeting Sector has the final say on budgets. That alone affects our priorities and all we do. The CWA Executive Board, unlike our AFA BOD, is not directly elected by the members and is therefore, not accountable to you. The merger agreement is written with vague promises. I believe we are giving up control over our Union unnecessarily and unwisely.




Fly: Are you aware that AFA owns the bargaining rights to your contract? No AFA, no contract.

You have now posted two letters on the US Airways boards from two of the UAL Local Presidents. While both of those Presidents would like to see the merger fail because they want to see the International President fail, neither has given a legitimate reason why.

I did a little research and found that the letter written by the Council 6 President (UAL-Newark) is slanted and without substance.

She states that “…barely 2/3 of the delegates voted to merge…â€

ONLY 10 (ten) out of a total of 67 (sixty-seven) of the AFA delegates voted AGAINST giving their members a choice to vote on the CWA merger.

UAL had 18 delegates in attendance and US Airways had 6. 7 (seven) of the UAL delegates and 1 (one) of the US Airways delegates were among the 10 who were opposed to giving their members the ability to decide their futures. Those 8 made up 10,069 of the total 10,323 combined roll call votes cast against the merger. Obviously they were some of the larger Council represented.

The Vote needed to pass by 2/3 which was 22,022 roll call votes. 22,710 roll call votes were cast FOR the merger which is 688 more than needed and 12,387 more than those opposing. Where I come from this is called a “landslide†or a “shellacking†so I question Council 6’s motives when she uses the word “barelyâ€.

The Council 6 President also makes reference to the fact that the AFA International Secretary, does not support the merger. Seems the International Secretary was not always opposed to the merger. It also seems that after his airline went defunct his ability to hold office came into question. I found out that the same Councils who are against the merger are the very same Councils who supported the International SEC’s re-election. He is now the ONLY elected AFA Officer who is NOT a flight attendant. I do not give his changed position any credence. As they say in politics you scratch my back and I will scratch yours.

When Council 6 speaks to the AFL-CIO charter, she fails to tell you that the very lady who fought for DECADES to obtain that charter was in attendance as a guest. Ms. Eddie Lauderbach is one of the founders of AFA and I am told that no one in the room is more invested or protective of AFA than she is and no one in the room has given more to make sure Flight attendants have a voice in the workplace. AFA is her baby and if anyone should be opposed to the merger, it would be Ms. Lauderbach. Knowing what is at stake, she very eloquently asked for the delegates to save the union by voting FOR the merger. That should send a clear message at how critical things have become for AFA.

The UAL Council 6 President mentions that if the merger is voted down, how the dues increase could be less and how she found a way to reduce it by at least $1, yet it is also my understanding that she is the same delegate who went to the mike to ask why 16% of $39 is less than 15% of $45 because she could not figure it our for herself. Enough said.

Across the industry airline CEO’s are watching this vote very carefully because they know what you may not, without some type of helping hand AFA and all the contracts they represent could be in real jeopardy. They would like nothing better than to see you walk away from an opportunity to make your union stronger.

If you vote in CWA, you will get the help you need NOW. You have 4-years to opt out of the deal if you decide later that you do not like it.

FLY, this is no time for politics. Many opposed to the merger are opposed because they have issues with Pat Friend (International President). Ms. Friend will soon be retired and living the good life, she will not get hurt either way, while you may find yourself without a contract or a voice in the work place. AFA is just a name. It is the flight attendants who are the force behind the name. It is the flight attendants who vote in the leadership and who have the power to make it great.
This is pertaining to the meeting mentioned below. I got this off a board that UAL f/a's had to start with our own money after AFA closed down our board. Below are a few f/a's opinions. OK, so here are a couple of items to note:


Association of Flight Attendants, AFL-CIO

United Airlines Master Executive Council Meeting

Park Plaza Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts

October 24-27, 2003

Regarding BOD Agenda Item #3....what a shock that it is submitted by Pat Friend.....the intent is obviously meant to set the stage to reward her supporters by allowing them to hold positions once they retire...whether it be in an AFA or CWA position, or Legislative Committee, or Political Action Committee, Personal Assistant, etc etc etc. Allowing retirees to continue holding office and/or ANY position means that someone who is that much further removed from the WORKING LINE FLIGHT ATTENDANT that they "represent" will be able to continue in office (earning $$$$$) forever. The further removed our representatives are from the issues that affect working flight attendants then the less effective that person is in their representation. DO NOT GIVE PF AND THE POWERS THAT BE THE ABILITY TO OFFER NEVER-ENDING POLITICAL REWARDS THAT YOUR DUES WILL BE PAYING FOR.

Regarding BOD Agenda Item #1 (CWA merger)....the wording of the proposal is confusing at best. If approved, it mandates a "binding process" that continues moving toward consummating the merger.......but also includes language referencing approval by membership vote???? Sooooo, if the BOD passes the merger agenda item, BUT THE MEMBERSHIP (if we are 'allowed' a membership vote) VETOES the wording of the agenda item, AFA is MANDATED TO CONTINUE THE PROCESS TOWARD MERGER WITH CWA!!! At best, if the above scenario unfolds, then there will continue to be MONTHS (if not longer) antagonistic political wrangling and inhouse fighting forcing a process to push the merger to completion. WHAT A WASTE OF TIME AND RESOURCES!!!! Would it not have made more sense to have polled the membership first (or had a membership vote) THEN TAKE THE PROCESS FORWARD if approved.....or DROP IT if disapproved by the membership THEY SERVE..??!!! But of course that would have meant that the International AFA OFFICE "Leadership", along with certain UAL LECPs, would WANT TO KNOW what their members wanted FIRST...rather than THEM deciding what is in our best interest and manipulating the process to achieve THEIR GOAL. The tail is waggin' the dog here and I believe the actions of the International Office and that of certain LECPs is self-serving and totally against the premise upon which Unionism was founded......they are NOT serving the membership, but rather their own interests.

THAT IS WHY WE ARE DOING EVERYTHING IN OUR POWER (I know, we don't have any power) TO GET A NO VOTE. Don't worry, I completely understand how the system works...AFA sends us a bogus ballot, we mark our choices, then AFA does exactly what they want anyway (this union even changes ballots to suit themselves and their agendas). Of course, we will merge with CWA, we know that......we have already begun the process of getting out of AFA completely.

Has anyone ever seen the AFA move so fast as they are with this vote? Nah, they want to catch the uninformed off guard.

FYI - you state that no AFA, no Contract. When UAL was swimming in the cash, AFA backed and shoved down our throats a contract with no raises, that no one I've met voted for (yet it passed) and that caused the UAL f/a's to toss their AFA, please explain why we want AFA?
I did finally get a trip this week having sat in PHL for four days on quick call, the new reserve system is really something. The intertnational crew room was buzzing with union reps names. Every reserve couldn't help but ask why the three union reps on reserve had over 150 hours for last month while we are looking at being furloughed early next year. Any thoughts.
Also, the union is asking for a yes vote to save our work rules. We have a reserve system that is a disgrace, block holders continue to violate the contract and overfly and nothing is done about it. The combination of both will ultimately eliminate hundreds of flight attendants so tell us why we should even take the time to read the instructions on how to vote.
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Please check again with your local union office. The PHL reserve, when taken off for AFA business, the computer automatically puts in 5 hours per day. Many of your union reps volunteer their time in the office, some get paid by AFA for a portion of lost trips, BUT NO ONE CAN GET PAID OVER THEIR OPTION.

The catcrew screen can not "filter" that out. This poses a problem for the reserves, as they bubble up less frequentely to get trips. Your Local Pres. has been trying to work with those managers that are programmers to fix this in a manner that will only reflect what they fly.

Explore and investigate the situation before you jump to conclusions, which many of us do sometimes.
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  • #36

Your post is propaganda against CWA meger potential and AFA as a union. You do not understand Agenda item #3 and you need call your union rep or Paul MacKinnon, AFA Int. Sec/Treas who is not a proponent of the merger and speak to him about what you cite.
Force Pat and friends to put on a uniform again.

AFA National needs to downsize. AFA needs to stay independent.

Does this sound familiar: "Vote no will shut USAirways down or vote yes to keep your job!"

Pat is up to her same old tricks. " Vote no I will raise your dues or vote yes and I will save you money (and me and my friend will not have to go fly again).

I think it is in the best interest of all F/A's to vote NO. Then: downsize National to save money.

Something are worth paying a little more for.

We need one voice speaking for many. Not many voices speaking not speaking for few. We would many up a small percentage of CWA. We would get lost in the crowd.

Nothing personal CWA. I think WE need to be indepenent. Thanks but No thanks.

I support the MEC & LEC of U. But AFA national needs to get lean. Your job is not supposed to easy that is why they call it WORK. If you can handle the work load we will elect people who will.

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Exactly what??????

OK folks, if your union Reps fly, who will take the calls for sched. emergencies when sched. tries to "infract" on our contracts? Who will handle those issues at the moment they are happening? Its alittle late when you attempt to deal with a problem 4 days later. Who will meet with the supervisors when f/as are called into meet? Should they go with no union representation? Just kinda wing it and see what happens? Who will grieve the cases? Who will write up the arguments and research them? Or do you think preparing just takes a few minutes? (More like hours and even days) Who will prepare the cases? Who will file all the paper work even process the grievance? Who will answer the questions for OJI, LTD, Pension, sick, maternity,sick claims, FMLA, and those questions that are "reserve" specific? Who will answer the questions when the furloughees call in to get updated, as they can not get the CBS messages from management while out on furlough? who will write the correspondences to the members, stuff the boxes, answer all the e-mails? Do you think f/as just ask questions one at a time? Who will communicate the issues to management? And when? Who will deal with the safety issues and hotel issues? And when? Who will follow through with issues that can't be remedied with inflight because of not being able to reach the person who needs to resolve the problem or make the "johnie on the spot" decision? I ask you then, who?

Do you think that your union reps should not handle the problems as they arise?

Becareful what you wish for, it may come to bite you.

With regard to the vote, the f/as control the outcome. Everyone who cares about their union knows that something has to be done. If you vote against merging, there is still another VIABLE option. And yes, services will be taken out of International. But make sure that is what you want when you vote, and that your not just trying to be spiteful to get back at the International. We won't gain a thing.
And who will spend all day, every day, on this formum while getting paid with AFA's members hard earned dues?

My opinion is that the AFA is top heavy. At the national level.

What have they done to downsize?

Membership is down at least 20% and they need to cut back.

On the local level cuts have been made.

AFA did just fine 10 years ago with less members. Sure dues need to be adjusted but a merger is to extreme.

Again on the local level I am very satisfied but AFA national needs to get in line.
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PSA 1979,

There you go again, making assumptions and getting pissed off cause you didn't win your election..... Stop draging me in to your disappointment. You have no clue what I am about. Stop hating the union and the reps cause you didn't win.


You maybe right. And I respect your opinion. We will see how the vote goes. Don't forget, many of the regionals depend on the AFA International services becaue they don't have enough members to have a budget to sustain their needs. So, International provides for them alot of the resources, that the bigger airlines maintain because they have budgets to do this.
Pitbull says"There you go again, making assumptions and getting pissed off cause you didn't win your election..... Stop draging me in to your disappointment. You have no clue what I am about. Stop hating the union and the reps cause you didn't win."

I think you are the one making assumptions, I am soooooo glad I did not win. I wouldn't be in your shoes for anything. I have no disappointment and I am not pissed off. I don't even hate the Union and the reps. I don't like you very much for your attacks, but, you'll never change. At least you aren't calling me management anymore. I am just a f/a out doing my job and poking fun at those who leave themselves wide open to poking!!
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So, part of your job is to "poke" fun? I do not believe the situation we find ourselves in, should be for anyones "fun" or pleasure. Certainly, what I do is not "fun", in fact, it is so damn serious.

I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, I must be misreading you.
The poking fun part is on my own time, not while I am working. I saw an opportunity to give you a little poke, and I took it. You are reading me way wrong! We all need a little humor in our lives in these troubled times. Don't get so defensive, you know what they say," the woman duth protest too much!"