IAM Supports AFA
April 4, 2016
Dear United Airlines Flight Attendants:
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) and the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) collaborate on numerous projects to support and improve the careers and quality of life of Flight Attendants. We coordinate our legislative efforts and lobby Congress side by side, such as with the current fight to mandate 10-hours of cabin crew rest. We both sit on the Executive Committee of the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department (TTD) and the Civil Aviation Committee of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF). The IAM’s representatives at United Airlines work closely on carrier-specific issues with your MEC leadership. The partnership we have benefits both unions. That is why I was extremely dismayed to hear that a few misguided individuals are trying to fracture your union. If they succeed, it will dismantle our successful partnership and all Flight Attendants will lose.
Your solidarity and bargaining strength is being undermined by an attempt to lure you away from AFA with promises from a union that does not even exist. This upstart has no finances, no structure, no resources and no experience. A website and a constitution written by a union-busting lawyer does not make a union. You have to question what this group can do for you when they have to solicit donations. They would be no match for United Airlines.
The IAM has faced similar challenges from the same people directing this group, and each time airline workers lost. Northwest Mechanics were 10,000 strong with the IAM, before they chose to isolate themselves from the rest of the labor movement by joining an “independent” union that wasn’t affiliated with the AFL-CIO.
As a result, by the time of the merger with Delta, Northwest had only 400 Mechanics left. Soon after, United Mechanics were swayed to believe they could do better for themselves by being “independent” and they watched United start subcontracting maintenance work outside the United States (something that was prohibited under the IAM contracts), costing 8,000 jobs. Every time workers are duped into believing they could do better by isolating themselves, they suffer.
These divisive efforts surface only during contract negotiations, which cripples the Union bargaining committee and only benefits the company. When unionized workers sign an election authorization card to change unions they play right into the company’s divide and conquer strategy, making it much harder for your negotiators to attain the contract you have earned. It is no coincidence that the same attorney advising the group that is trying to weaken the AFA also represents airline management against union members.
The Machinists Union strongly supports the AFA and looks forward to continuing and strengthening our partnership. I urge you to do the same and soundly reject any request to sign a card for this splinter group. Each card that is signed weakens your solidarity and position at the bargaining table.
GENERAL VICE PRESIDENT