Taking Steps Forward

Author: Joint Communication Committee

It’s been just over one year since our Joint Contract Negotiations began last December. By almost any standard, our negotiations are progressing slowly. For some of us, it may feel like we’ve been at this process since October 2010 when the “New United” took it’s first steps. For others, it may feel like change is coming fast and furiously and we want this train to slow down.

One amazing thing about Flight Attendants is how similar we are, yet how we can have different ideas about how we’d like our job to be done. Being a Flight Attendant provides unique opportunities for us, that those outside our industry do not understand or enjoy.

For example, some of us like to fly internationally, while others prefer one-day trips so we can be home more. We may like to fly high time to increase our income, or we may like to fly fewer hours to enjoy the flexibility of a non 9 to 5 job, so that we can enjoy the time off to pursue other activities in our personal life. Neither is right or wrong; we all need to work, but how we get to our individual paychecks is a matter of preference and what our circumstances provide for.

Objectively, perhaps some of our personal or individual interests may be better serviced by remaining separate for now, our collective future will only be successful once we combine and see the merger all the way through. We have a voice in that outcome, the unique ability to shape it and define it.

As we consider the progress of United’s merger, there are lots of opinions, and lots of methods to achieve our goals. One important fact, however, is that just as it’s imperative for each of us to receive our paycheck, it’s also imperative that United complete their merger. It’s also very important that we reach that point with a Contract that protects us and provides us with all the pay, rights and benefits we deserve.

The circumstances and reasoning that led to the merger, remain. United combined three airlines into one to be more successful and competitive. In some ways, they’ve accomplished that goal. And progress has been made, but in terms of uniting the three work groups we still have a lot to do.

We may have different views of how we should get to the end of the merger, but we all agree that we need United Airlines to be successful. Flight Attendants are a big part of that success. Plain and simple, United’s merger cannot succeed without us. We are the ambassadors to the passengers, we spend more time with those who fly on United Airlines than any other work group combined on average, and the role we play is invaluable to our airlines success.

We’ve taken some important steps forward on our path towards a Joint Contract, but we’ve got a long way to go. We all come from proud cultures and backgrounds, and many of us have strong convictions on protecting aspects of our job that we feel are important. These are good qualities, and demonstrate that we do care, that we are invested and that we are willing to fight for our beliefs. Ultimately, this energy and commitment will be the key to being successful at the negotiating table. With patience, understanding and commitment, over time we will begin to build more and more bridges to find common ground with respect to our beliefs and cultures.

In this season of holiday, and approaching the new year, consider not our differences with each other, or our conflicts with management, but instead our passion and love of being a Flight Attendant – things we share in common with each other.

Wherever you may be this season: working, with family or something in between; happy holidays and a happy new year.