July 17, 2015
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—Flight attendants working for United Airlines staged a day of action worldwide to pressure the airline company to make good on a pledge it made to settle a new contract after the company merged with Continental Airlines in 2010.
Flight attendants with the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA picketed during their lunch break at LaGuardia Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport. The union issued a press release saying that at a time when the company has $7 billion on its balance sheet and a very well compensated CEO, Jeff Smisek, who earned over $11 million in 2014, the company is well positioned to settle a new contract.
“Today we’re marching around the world for Flight Attendants at United and every Flight Attendant in the industry who works as aviation’s first responders. We march in support of our negotiating committee, we march for a fair contract and we march in support of our passengers amidst the most profitable period in the history of commercial aviation,” said Sara Nelson, AFA’s International President in a statement.
At LaGuardia, we interviewed on camera Estelle Comboni, an AFA vice president, about why she and her colleagues were picketing outside Terminal B.
“United Airlines and Continental Airlines merged five years ago. As a consequence, we have been separate and distinct labor groups due to contract negotiations that haven’t come to fruition. We’ve been in contract negotiations for the past three years and we’re here today to state emphatically that United Airlines needs to get serious at the negotiating table because we are serious about wanting a contract now,” said Comboni.
When asked what’s most important for she and her colleagues to achieve in the current negotiations, she said it was important for United Airlines to bargain in good faith.
“We’re seeking an industry-leading contract with an excellent quality of life for our 24,000 members, [but] every aspect of our [current] contract is being attacked by United management; they need to bargain in good faith,” Comboni said.