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Members threaten strike pending merger with US Airways
United flight attendants ready for "CHAOS"

By Leighton Christiansen | April 13, 2001 | Page 19

CHICAGO--United Airlines flight attendants voted overwhelmingly to strike if the company moves ahead with its buyout of US Airways without getting a waiver from the flight attendants. More than 97 percent of flight attendants who returned ballots voted to authorize a strike. The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) has 26,000 members at United, and 72 percent returned ballots.

"The flight attendants have voted to uphold our contract and protect our careers," said Linda Farrow, president of the AFA's master executive council.

"If United illegally moves forward with its merger transaction, we will strike with CHAOS." CHAOS--or Creating Havoc Around Our System--is a series of random and unannounced work actions.

The $4.3 billion merger between United parent UAL and US Airways is on hold until at least mid-May, pending Justice Department approval. United bosses claim that if they operate US Airways and its subsidiaries Allegheny, Piedmont and PSA separately, they are not in violation of the contract.

The current 10-year contract contains a "Scope" clause that requires any airlines United owns to be flown with attendants on the AFA seniority list. AFA officials say that a contract amendment or a waiver of the Scope provision is required before any merger can go through.

The flight attendants--after seeing United pilots win raises of as much as 28.5 percent last year--want a mid-contract pay raise of 13 percent to 30 percent for domestic flight attendants and between 7 percent and 34 percent for international. United is offering just 4 percent.

AFA officials feel a United merger without a waiver is a contract violation that will release them from Railway Labor Act rules and keep the National Mediation Board or President Bush from interfering with their plans to carry out CHAOS in May, during the busy Memorial Day travel period.

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