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Monday, November 29, 2010

CAL Ramp deal

The IBT and CAL have reached a tentative agreement for the Fleet Service group. Details, including a full copy of the agreement, can be found

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm hoping you all have a Happy Thanksgiving with family, friends, or co-workers.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

U.S. airlines seen earning $4 billion in 2010

The article speaks for itself and can be found here.

Friday, November 19, 2010

United Labor issues cloud merger

An interesting article on the current state of labor relations at the new United from The Street can be found here. Thanks to Allen Cosides from New York and Robert Lavenuta from IADGQ for passing this on.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A policy of indifference

Last week in San Francisco, following on the heels of his Dulles meeting in which he told the members there that they would never again see a defined benefit pension at the Company, CEO Jeff Smisek appeared to be trying to backtrack a bit from his prior remarks. At the San Francisco meeting, Mr. Smisek said that he was "indifferent" as to whether the membership secured a defined benefit pension, and that this was a matter of bargaining and not pissing off the PBGC. I think Mr. Smisek was genuinely trying to remove from his mouth the foot that he inserted at the Dulles meeting, and for that I was somewhat pleased. But afterwards, I got to thinking about what he said there, and now I am not so pleased.

The definition of the word indifferent is: 1 lack of interest or concern, 2 unimportance; little or no concern. This information was found on As I related in my recent posts about Mr. Smisek and the pension mess that he inherited, some might think that pensions are the only thing on my mind. They are not. The establishment of a defined benefit pension is of critical concern to me and most of you, and I am absolutely serious when I state that there will not be a contract unless and until we have a defined benefit pension. I am not sure that Mr. Smisek understands how important this issue is to us, and am very concerned when a very smart, well educated, successful and gifted speaker like Mr. Smisek claims to be "indifferent" about pensions or anything else that concerns the workforce.

Pre-Smisek UAL has been indifferent towards our needs for decades. The Company didn't care when they fired 10,000 mechanics, jettisoned our pension, destroyed our ESOP stock, or when they slashed our wages, our benefits and our work rules. Now, with the UAL-CAL merger, there is a great opportunity for all of us, labor and management alike to forge a new relationship. To do so requires a radical departure from the indifference and poison that has marred the bargaining relationships at this Company for so long. When Mr. Smisek says he is indifferent to our needs and our rights to retirement security, I am forced to conclude that he is also indifferent to our need to protect our jobs, reverse the outsourcing of our work to outsiders, and to protect and restore our other benefits. That makes me sad and frankly it pisses me off. I have worked here a long time and, like you, have taken many hard lumps from a Company whose management style is one of indifference and even callous disregard and disrespect for me, my family and my union brothers and sisters. Mr. Smisek is a very smart man, but his claim of indifference seems to me to be a very stupid and unproductive remark. I would rather have a hands-on CEO who tells us he actually understands how screwed up things have been here and who will roll his sleeves up to fix the problems.

I don't know whether Mr. Smisek golfs or not, but if he does, perhaps he should consider taking a mulligan and let us know that the days of indifference and disrespect at this carrier are over, and that he is personally committed to restoring the dignity that the Company and its Bankruptcy thieves stole from us as well as righting the wrongs that were done to us. Without that effort and commitment by Mr. Smisek, I fear we will be stuck in the same warped relationship with management here at the merged carrier that we suffered prior to the merger. And that is not good for anybody. So, I hope Mr. Smisek takes that mulligan and empowers his team to move on, making good on restoring and replacing the work, wages, benefits, dignity and respect that was ripped from us and from every person who has worked at this Company. We deserve nothing less! In fact, we DEMAND it! Tell your supervisor ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! RETURN TO THE TABLE AND FINISH THE DEAL! Anything less is entirely unacceptable!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Contract 2011?

Well Brothers and Sisters, it seems pretty clear we will not see a new agreement prior to the New Year. By now you have read the Bargaining Committee Update for this past week's negotiations in San Francisco. As noted in the Update, the Union Committee fully expected to reach a deal with the Company over lead ratios and 7-day coverage. As difficult and emotional as those issues are, the Committee has worked long and hard to find a way to accommodate the Company's need for flexibility while protecting against the encroachment and loss of work and jobs, and while ensuring fair and workable schedules. The Company's negotiators have worked hard on these issues too, but at times over the last couple of months, it has seemed that the Company had bitten off more than it could chew: when push has come to shove on these issues, the Company wasn't able to explain what exactly it wants or how, with any level of detail, it expects to use the "flexibility" it is seeking. All the Company knows is that it wants "flexibility" but it won't – or simply can't -- explain how that flexibility will help the Company. At the same time, while the Union has worked hard to accommodate the Company's repeated requests for "flexibility," the Company has paid only lip service to the Union's job security needs. The Company's actions and failures concerning these matters have caused a lot of frustration and have caused many of us to question whether the Company's negotiators have fallen victim to the old-style UAL method of ram-and-jam "bargaining" that has helped fuel so much labor-management distrust over the years. Like all of you, we were given hope through testimony to congress as well as reports in the media that change was on the horizon. And with that, all of us truly want the new management team that the Company has assembled over the last couple of years to succeed, because it is much better to negotiate with a successful Company as opposed to one in bankruptcy. But it does not give us much confidence and does not make us feel very comfortable when the Company snubs our job security needs, refuses to deal realistically with our retirement security needs, and finds time to set aside only one week in December to bargain with us.

I told many of you during the summer that I felt we were on pace to possibly achieve an agreement this year, but things slowed to a crawl after September. It seems obvious to me as I related in an earlier post, that the Company would rather merge the agreements than negotiate a new one for us. The entire negotiating committee agrees this is not the best course for the membership.

It would be easy to go on a rant and complain about the process, but what could I tell you that you don't already know? The Company obviously doesn't respect either the concessions we made to save them, nor do they respect us. How can I say this? Well actions speak much louder than words, and if they truly felt it was in their best interest to make us feel proud to work here they would step up and reach an agreement with us that recognized our sacrifices. They haven't done that and they don't appear willing to do that.

Is this really the treatment we deserve? And if not, what can we do? I think the obvious answer is to continue to express your displeasure to your supervisor. The Company has to understand that respect is a two way street.

Last Monday I attended a second Jeff Smisek presentation in SFO. Mr. Smisek told the audience at that time he was indifferent as to whether we got a pension and would leave that up to each work group's negotiating teams. Indifferent? It seems like a theme is beginning to develop here. We truly deserve our own agreement! We've paid for it! Inaction on the Company's part is unacceptable! Remember tell your supervisor; WITH NO PENSION THERE IS NO AGREEMENT, WITH NO AGREEMENT THERE IS NO HAPPINESS!

Monday, November 8, 2010

An addendum to the last message

Over the course of the weekend, and following my last blog post, I was in touch with each rank and file member of the negotiating committee. Brothers and Sisters I can proudly tell you that without hesitation or question, each of us is resolute in our position to achieve an agreement for the United Mechanics and Related prior to amalgamation. Each member also steadfastly indicated that a defined benefit pension plan is a must in order to achieve that goal. These members include Roger Apana HNL, Larry Calhoun JFK, Dion Cornelius LAX, Ramon Gonzalez DEN, George Graham ORD, Kevin Giegoldt ORD, Dominic Gulley SFO, Javier Lectora SFO, Ken Meidenger DEN, and Harvey Wright from SFO.

This should really come as no surprise to anyone. After all, every one of us is a mechanic and we have, and continue to suffer the same hardships as each of you.

In line with what's happening currently, a very dear friend recently sent a quote from Revolutionary War patriot Thomas Paine and it follows;

"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but "to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER," and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God."

As I read this, I thought with some very minor changes this passage describes our current plight. However, long gone are the summer soldiers and sunshine patriots from amongst our ranks. Those of us left have been refined in the crucible that is United Airlines. We have been hardened and polished by an extended bankruptcy. United, in much the same way as King George used his armies to keep his subjects under thumb, used the bankruptcy courts to enforce her tyranny on us her subjects, but now is that time, instead of the freedom mentioned above, to be rewarded for our sacrifices with an acceptable agreement! In other words, this tyranny must be now be conquered!

The feedback I've received over the last couple of days is tremendous and I thank you all for the kind words. However, a couple of emails indicated that sending our message to our supervisors would gain nothing. I couldn't disagree more. Soon after the CAL mechanics finished their TA, several members of management approached me and informed me station by station what the feedback was surrounding that agreement on the UAL system. Your supervisor is a direct conduit to the CEO. Believe me, they share your stories, and if our tale is one of apathy, they will steamroll us so fast it will make our heads spin. I'm anything but apathetic at this point, and I can't believe it's any different for any of you! Tell your tale! Our hope for a decent agreement lies with the Union, the committee and you. Working as a team we will be unstoppable and we can, and we will, achieve our collective goals!


Friday, November 5, 2010

Are you ready for Amalgamation?

After I wrote last night's post, I couldn't stop thinking about what's happened to us over the course of the last quarter century. We were made promises such as the ESOP stock would be worth a great deal of money, there would be a cap of 20% on outsourced work, and we would get a seamless agreement in 2000. Like many others we've heard, none of those promises was honored and ten thousand of us no longer work here, we have lost pensions, wages, stocks and benefits. In short we've been sodomized! Now we are being told "I want this to be a place where all employees enjoy coming to work", and "I want the agreements to be in place by the time we achieve a single operating certificate." These are not promises, they are stated goals, but they illustrate the point that the Company has no clue what will make us happy to come to work when you read it along what the Company's CEO bluntly stated yesterday, that "There will be no defined benefit pension plan at United Airlines"


This from USATODAY "Smisek ready to take on the World" article dated September 30 2010;

"Q: How will you keep the United folks from feeling like second-class citizens?

A: One, we've built a management team that's a true merger-of-equals combination of leadership, selecting people from both carriers, as opposed to the arrogance of a takeover. We're partners here, and we need to deal with each other respectfully as partners.

Secondly, I think the folks at United have been through very difficult times, as have we, since 2000. They want to change. I think they're going to embrace change. We're going to offer them ... a culture that will make them enjoy coming to work and be proud of the place they work."


Over the course of the last two months we really seem to have been in a holding pattern in negotiations. I can only come to the conclusion that the reason for this is the Company really has no interest in finishing our agreement. Rather it seems like they would like us to get right into amalgamation. The Continental mechanics already have an agreement so if you're the Company why not head in this direction? There is already a template in place for us right? But is this approach fair and equitable to us? I think not for the reasons that follow.


Here is just a quick overview on amalgamation for those that may not know. First the seniority lists will have to be merged. That is no small task and my guess is that alone will take at least six months. Then a committee from each airline will have to develop proposals based on the current agreements to present to the company and that should take another six months. Then the parties meet and negotiate the new amalgamated, or merged, agreement. This could easily add another year to the process.


Two Years! Are you ready to wait an estimated two years while everyone else makes more money and accrues pension benefits that the new CEO says you can't have?


Brothers and Sisters, creating 5000 pissed off bastards is no way to achieve the goal of making everyone happy to come to work! Waiting for amalgamation to work itself out is unacceptable! We work hard and deserve our own contract NOW!


I don't know about you but I am feeling like a second class citizen.



CAL ratification

Here is the article. It was passed by a wide margin with a very high participation rate.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

You can’t have a pension!

Frustration is an understatement for how I feel. For close to two years we have been negotiating with the Company. While some progress has been made we are far short of where we need to be in my opinion. Today that frustration boiled over when I attended the Jeff Smisek town hall meeting in IAD. What follows is an exchange with a 32 year ramp service employee;

(what follows is not verbatim but close)


A ramp serviceman approached the mic and asked the question "I have 32 years with the company and would be retiring in a couple of weeks if the pension plan had not been terminated, so my question is will there be a return to a pension plan at United Airlines?"


Jeff Smisek "No. There will not be a return to a defined benefit pension plan at United. While I am committed to all employees' retirement security, the PBGC would have a fit if we made a new plan because of what old United did when they abandoned their previous obligations."

Brothers and Sisters, first he obviously doesn't understand that legally the five year ban on a new plan ends at the beginning of next year, and second why don't we deserve a pension? To say "we've been through the mill" doesn't come close to describing the abuse we've endured. What sort of annuity plan will he be offered at the end of his tenure? After all isn't that just a variation of a defined benefit plan? Why does he deserve that and you get another sharp stick in the eye?

Forget frustration, as I write this that emotion is turning to anger. We deserve better. We've paid over and over for our opportunity to improve our livelihoods. To ask that we have a pension is not outrageous. It is the least this Company can provide.

Tell your supervisors, managers and anyone else that will listen. THERE WILL BE NO AGREEMENT WITHOUT A PENSION!

Elections have consequences



Elections have consequences. Unfortunately we were on the losing end of this one. Here is the article from Newsweek
United, Delta Gain Allies on Outsourcing, Antitrust


Thanks to Ken Bater for passing this on.


Take care, 


Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I know information has been sparse on the site lately. Much of that it is due to a lot of travel with little internet access.

Last week there was a JBA west session in San Francisco. Three grievances were heard at this session. There were two discharges and one language case. There are no final decisions at this time. I was able to attend the SFO day shift craft meeting with Clacy Griswold. It was a pleasure meeting many of you and look forward to doing it again sometime in the future.

Yesterday I attended the Local 210 business meeting in New York. There was much discussion regarding the merger, the upcoming ratification vote, and future elections this merger will generate as well as discussions regarding other representational elections that may occur soon in the airline industry. On a side note a GPS is almost required going into the city. Instead of going through the Holland tunnels I went across the Verrazano Bridge into Brooklyn like I was going to JFK. Thanks to Larry Calhoun and Allen Cosides for getting me the proper directions.

I will try to get an official report out later this week. As you may know negotiations were postponed this week and will resume next week in San Francisco.

That's all for now,