A close friend who is a flight attendant informs me that the AFA – the Association of Flight Attendants union – which governs the workers of United, US Airways and I ATA is considering a strike to protest unfair paycuts and conditions. My friend is very much against the union since there really isn’t much that can come of it besides further pushing the company into a downward spiral.
My friend informed a co-worker that if his flight gets struck and the flight attendants walk off the plane he’s simply going to g back to the crew desk for re-assignment on a different flight. The co-worker then fired back that she’d re-arm his doors.
Dis-arming and re-arming doors is the process of setting the inflatable slides – which function like an airbag: they burst open in the event of an emergency and provide a slide for passengers to exit the plane. The slides are dis-armed before takeoff so as not to mis-fire while mechanics, crew and caterers do their duties but then are re-armed once the plane pushes back from the loading ramp. To re-arm a door would mean that it could mis-fired and potentially kill or injure staff or passengers.
My friend threatened that if anything like that happens he’s going to file a lawsuit so fast their heads will spin. It’s amazing to me that they’d sabotage the safety of their co-workers (many in their own respective unions) and even passengers/customers to make a point.
The problem with United is that the current state of the company in bankruptcy proceedings means that the company can force all the paycuts they want and the AFA can’t do a damned thing about it – so striking is pretty much pointless: the company is in the right in this case.
My friend then did the math. There are 50,000 members in AFA that each give $49 a month to the union totally over $2.4 million a month which they don’t see any effect or effort.
This is a case where the union has become it’s own voracious company and bureaucracy and doesn’t have the best interests of the members at heart.
I remember when my dad’s union – the teacher’s union – threatened a strike when I was a kid. He wore an armband to school to show solidarity. The news was rife with ‘how dare they’ pieces about how the children’s education was being sabotaged by these selfish teachers – I kept thinking ‘what about the children of these teachers?’ How embarrassing is it to strike and admit to the world that you’re getting a pittance for your job?