United flight attendants picket over contract dispute

12:57 PM, Apr 6, 2010   |    comments
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The flight attendants are warning if the dispute is not settled soon, they may strike.

Tuesday marked one year that United's flight attendants, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), has been in negotiations with the airline.

Contract negotiations have been going on since 2009. The AFA says if a mediator decides that the negotiations are exhausted, they allow a cooling off period of 30 days.

A person with the picketers initially told 9NEWS if there is no contract soon, they could go on strike as early as this summer.

United spokesperson Megan McCarthy says that is not factually accurate.

Sara Nelson, a spokesperson for the AFA, also says that statement is untrue.

McCarthy says negotiations are in mediation and no steps have been taken toward a strike. She says United's goal is to have meaningful negotiations.

On Tuesday the group, which represents 15,000 flight attendants were holding signs and passing out flyers at DIA. They're hoping to get support from passengers, and the attention of United.

The picketers say they agreed to huge pay and benefit cuts and lost their retirement when United filed for bankruptcy eight years ago. Those cuts were supposed to expire at the beginning of January this year and the flight attendants were supposed to get a new contract.

The group says they are working 48 percent more than in 2002 and they are working for outdated wages.

United says many of AFA's statistics are misleading.

The airline says it has offered the flight attendants a few proposals, including one comparable to Continental, with some of the highest compensation in the industry. However, they say AFA has outright denied them without any counter offers.

Negotiations are still ongoing, and a mediator, would have to decide if they are exhausted before the flight attendants can strike.

The bottom line for passengers right now: Nothing has changed. You won't notice anything different if you fly United. However, if these contract negotiations fail that could be another story.

(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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