Last updated: 12:52 PM ET, Fri July 17 2015

United Flight Attendants Picket In 19 Cities

Airlines & Airports | United Airlines | Rich Thomaselli | July 17, 2015

United Flight Attendants Picket In 19 Cities

United Airlines flight attendants, part of the Association of Flight Attendants Union, protested in 19 cities on Thursday trying to get the message out to the public that stalled contract negotiations are hurting the carrier.

"The picket lines have been absolutely electric,” AFA International President Sara Nelson said in a statement. “United Flight Attendants and supporters from throughout the industry marched in extraordinary numbers and generated a lot of noise when calling on United management to recognize the hard work of Flight Attendants. Executives and shareholders are cashing in while passengers and Flight Attendants are left dealing with the frustrations of a fractured operation. Enough is enough. United needs to negotiate within the reality of record profits and get this merger done."

More than 2,000 flight attendants picketed in the 19 cities, including United’s base in Chicago.

United has 24,000 flight attendants total.

Nelson said the flight attendants are asking for a fair contract that had been promised to them since the merger with Continental in 2010. The union noted that Smisek’s salary last year rose 39 percent to approximately $11.3 million, with $975,000 of that in base salary, $7.7 million in stock options, $2.3 million in incentives and $300,000 in other compensation. As a whole, United Airlines has roughly $7 billion in cash on its balance sheet, and its share price is up 162 percent since the merger.

"It was the sacrifices of flight attendants that helped make this merger possible, and it is past time for United management to complete this merger and return United to its premier status in the world. That starts with our contract," Nelson said. "A fair contract with United that reflects the success of the industry and the frontline workers that make it possible will also benefit flight attendants at American, Delta and every other airline. It's our turn and it's past time." 

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