How United AFA secured domestic partner benefits and set the standard

How United AFA secured domestic partner benefits and set the standard

June 29, 2024—AFA has a long history of supporting LGBTQ+ rights. It has been integral to our union since the start.

In honor of Pride this year we spoke to Stan Kiino, a United AFA Flight Attendant and longtime activist, about United AFA’s fight to win domestic partner benefits in the 90s. Watch the video below:

In 1996, the city of San Francisco became the first jurisdiction in the country to pass an Equal Benefits Ordinance. The law required all companies doing business with the city, including airlines, to offer the same benefits to unmarried employees in domestic partner relationships as they do to married couples.

United Airlines and many others resisted. The United MEC was in Section 6 bargaining and were ready to mobilize. They allied with the Harvey Milk Democratic Club to form United Against United, a coalition against management’s discriminatory stance.

In June 1997, AFA members wearing the trademarked green CHAOS shirts passed out 10,000 leaflets asking “Is United really gay friendly?” The leaflets made a splash, especially since United was sponsoring a float in the parade. The following month, AFA members demonstrated outside of United’s downtown ticketing office while non-AFA allies cut up their frequent flyer cards inside the building.

Over the next two years, the United Against United coalition continued to pressure management to offer domestic partner benefits. Non-labor allies even called for a boycott of United. Finally, in July 1999, United announced it would provide full domestic partner benefits, including health and pension coverage, to LGBTQ+ workers and retirees worldwide. Within days, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines followed suit, and within a few years, domestic partner benefits became the standard throughout the airline industry.

United AFA members played a vital role in securing these benefits and setting the standard for the industry. Watch Stan Kiino recount the fight here.

Send off Pride with your AFA Family: Join Endeavor AFA and other members for the NYC Pride Parade on Sunday. RSVP now.

You can also join SkyWest AFA in Salt Lake City for SLC Pride starting through the weekend.

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