United Airlines Reaches Buyout Agreement with Flight Attendants

Airline Plans to Recall Furloughed Crew Members

By Paul Riegler on 15 September 2014
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A United plane in Chicago

A United plane in Chicago

United Airlines and the Association of Flight Attendants union announced a deal Monday that offers the majority of the airline’s 23,000 flight attendants a voluntary severance program with a large lump sum payment.

The carrier also announced it is recalling all 1,450 flight attendants who are currently on voluntary and involuntary furlough.

The Chicago-based airline said it will offer as much as $100,000 to cabin-crew members who apply for what it is calling an “enhanced early out” program, provided they meet specific service and eligibility requirements.  United will award the severance package in order of seniority.

United, which merged with Continental in 2010, still operates as two airlines when it comes to scheduling flight attendants because the two workgroups haven’t yet reached a unified contract agreement with the company and haven’t created a single seniority list amongst themselves.  Both United and Continental crewmembers are eligible for the severance package.

United currently has too many flight attendants and hasn’t hired any new ones since 2008, while Continental has been steadily adding new cabin crew.  United has also tried to entice flight attendants on the United side to transfer to Continental.

In May, the airline also reached an agreement with its flight attendants union to begin what it called “a collaborative process of facilitated problem-solving.”

The union representing flight attendants on the United side termed the deal a “substantial commitment on the part of the airline to promote operational integration that recognizes the efforts of flight attendants,” adding that it saw the plan as a way of supporting “the expedited negotiations underway for a joint contract.”

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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