What United Airlines would have you believe regarding their recently announced involuntary furloughs is far from the real story according to many United Airlines flight attendants.
You see, following the merger of Continental and United Airlines, the airline began to operate under one name but as separate sub-operations; United, Continental and Continental Micronesia. The airlines have not integrated operations due in part to the fact that there are still labor agreements to be worked out— including that of the flight attendants.
If the layoffs announced by United go through as planned, flight attendants that are senior to those working at the Continental operation would be laid off; a violation of seniority. By doing this, Many employees at United feel that CEO Jeff Smisek is sending a very familiar message to employees that they are disposable and subject to any actions the airline’s management deems appropriate even if it goes against the most basic of working conditions.
One flight attendant (who asks to remain anonymous) working within the United sub-operation states:
“An offer of a so-called “cross-over” for legacy United flight attendants to work on the legacy Continental side of the operations would have stapled the United flight attendants at the bottom of the Continental seniority list until a joint contract was reached, and would have offered no protection against involuntary furloughs (so if those cross-overs were let go at some future time before merged operations, they would lose their recall rights). In addition, with the previous cross-over of two years ago, we now have a situation where some of the United flight attendants who are now on the Continental side are also junior to some of those being furloughed from the United side, a gross violation of the rules governing our seniority list.”
And goes on to say:
“The flight attendants being furloughed are all coming solely from the legacy United side of the operations, with the most senior of them having started their careers with the company in November of 2006, and the most junior have a seniority of March, 2008. In the meantime, the legacy Continental side had a hiring spree over the past several years, with a result that there are literally thousands of flight attendants on that side who are significantly junior to those who are about to lose their jobs.”
Another flight attendant says:
“It is my position that management is carrying out a legally, well thought out and carefully planned scheme to decimate the subsidiary United Flight Attendant population via chipping away at our work group psychologically and with strategic strikes, the hardest and most visible being yesterday’s announcement. Many employees at United Airlines and other carriers who are having their rights violated are subject to strict social media policies which offer termination in exchange for speaking out.”
Even frequent fliers are getting involved and asking United to explain themselves:
We will update with a statement from the Association of Flight Attendants shortly.