AFA-CWA Fights Airline Staffing Cuts

United, Last Hold Out on Staffing and Service Reductions for Long-Haul Flights, Falls to Delta and American Levels

Washington, DC (November 6, 2018) —  The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), representing 50,000 Flight Attendants at 20 airlines, including United, is calling out an industry that has succumbed to pressures from Wall Street to cut service for passengers and reduced Flight Attendant staffing. United on Monday announced it will reduce service by pre-plating meals on the ground and eliminate a Flight Attendant position on certain international widebody flights beginning February 2019, to “align” with staffing levels at American and Delta.   

“What happens at one airline has an effect on the rest of us. United is saying American and Delta already do it, giving them the ‘cover’ to do it too. Staffing is about safety and service - we can’t accept the lowest level in either case. Staffing should be increased in these times of profits, not decreased. Rather than matching the staffing level of our competitors on these aircraft, we should set an industry standard that makes it impossible for them to compete with United. We should be driving the highest standards today. Let's call this what it is: Short-term gain for Wall Street with billions in stock buybacks funded on our backs. We are an airline, not a hedge fund. Time to focus on our passengers with realistic Flight Attendant staffing and investment in the people who make our airline fly,” said Ken Diaz, AFA United President in a letter to members on Monday night.

“Staffing cuts started during airline bankruptcies. While airline profits have rebounded, staffing cuts keep getting deeper. Our union is totally opposed to staffing cuts and in fact our position is that safety and service require increasing Flight Attendant staffing. United was the last hold out on these most recent cuts, but Wall Street has kept the pressure on to funnel even more profits to greedy speculators at the expense of the people on planes. Reduced staffing means fewer Flight Attendants to observe odd behavior, identify intoxicated passengers, resolve issues at boarding, and de-escalate conflict between passengers. It means fewer Flight Attendants to respond to medical emergencies, back each other up with aggressive passengers, maintain a safe space for everyone, and follow through on addressing any issues of sexual assault or hostile situations. It means not having the time to provide the customer service so many enjoy giving. Our union will fight this with a coalition of Flight Attendants, airline passengers, and lawmakers. That fight starts today at the ballot box as we work to elect people who will stand up against efforts to transfer wealth to a few at the expense of many.” said Sara Nelson, AFA International President.

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The Association of Flight Attendants is the Flight Attendant union. Focused 100 percent on Flight Attendant issues, AFA has been the leader in advancing the Flight Attendant profession for 73 years. Serving as the voice for Flight Attendants in the workplace, in the aviation industry, in the media and on Capitol Hill, AFA has transformed the Flight Attendant profession by raising wages, benefits and working conditions. Nearly 50,000 Flight Attendants come together to form AFA, part of the 700,000-member strong Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFL-CIO.

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