The union that represents flight attendants at United Airlines has convened a special emergency meeting on Wednesday, August 2, to “discuss and determine all options to enforce our contract and correct management’s failures” after slamming United’s “blatant disregard” for flight attendants.
Along with local union leaders, the meeting will also be attended by Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA), who is often dubbed the ‘most powerful flight attendant in the United States’ due to the reach of the union which represents tens of thousands of crew members at dozens of airlines.
Following a much-publicized meltdown in June, flight attendants at the Chicago-based airline say the day-to-day operation is still struggling, and frontline workers are taking the brunt for problems that they claim management is failing to address.
Late last week, United was yet again offering bonus payments for flight attendants to cover a slew of flights that didn’t have minimum flight attendant coverage and that were at risk of cancellation, while international flights out of Newark were being crewed to FAA certified minimum.
According to documents shared by industry insider xJonNYC on ‘X’, the sick rate amongst flight attendants is 33% higher than average, although the union says United is attempting to shift the blame for its operational woes onto frontline workers.
“United management is attempting to blame Flight Attendants for the use of sick leave much like they tried to blame the FAA for their inability to plan and respond during the operational meltdown over July 4th holiday travel,” the union said in an internal memo.
“Flight Attendants are not just sick, they are sick and tired of the abuse,” the memo continued.
“We must take action together to address the continued mismanagement of the response to operational meltdowns, scheduling chaos, Contract violations, and the ongoing decline in Flight Attendant morale.”
United CEO Scott Kirby has repeatedly blamed the FAA and air traffic control shortages for much of the airline’s woes, but AFA says United is failing to acknowledge or address issues within its control.
Of particular frustration to the union is United’s failure to hire enough schedulers to deal with broken trips when bad weather, especially in the North East, wreaks havoc on United’s operation.
United has admitted that its Newark hub has been a weak link in its operation this summer and the airline has drawn back some flying from the New York area airport in an attempt to stabilize its schedule.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.