Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Flight attendant union protests Midwest Airlines pay cuts

AFA-CWA logoLate last month I reported that Midwest Airlines not only intends to reduce its flight attendant work force by more than half, but is asking those who remain on the job to accept massive cuts in pay and benefits. These proposals have infuriated the flight attendants at Midwest Airlines, and rightly so, since they already earn 19 percent less than flight attendants at other low fare carriers.

Last evening the flight attendants publicly protested these draconian reductions in pay, but it was not just Midwest Airlines flight attendants who participated in the event. Hundreds of flight attendants from 20 carriers joined in the protest as a show of solidarity with the flight attendants of Midwest Airlines.

The flight attendants -- all members of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), the union that represents Midwest Airlines flight attendants -- formed up at the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee and held a candlelight march to the Midwest Center. There they heard remarks made by AFA-CWA International President Patricia Friend, AFA-CWA Midwest President Toni Higgins and a guest from the Milwaukee Central Labor Council.

The AFA leadership explains the situation that prompted this public protest:

In June, in order to offset rising fuel prices and a failed business plan, Midwest Airlines management hired an outside consulting firm, the Seabury Group, to present the flight attendants with a proposal that included furloughing half the work force, over 55 percent pay cuts for those remaining and additional slashes to current work rules. AFA-CWA was given the proposal without any supporting information or documentation and told that, if not accepted, management would have no choice but to file for bankruptcy. After repeated requests by AFA-CWA, management finally supplied background on the proposal, however the information provided was inaccurate and incomplete.

According to the Seabury Group's plan, the proposed Midwest flight attendant pay scale was compiled by taking the average pay rate of flight attendants from smaller carriers and reducing the average by 15 percent. However, as management continued to insist that the concessions were "fair and equitable" for all work groups, calculations for management and non-union employee concessions were based on average salaries at larger, more profitable mainline carriers such as Southwest and Delta.

AFA-CWA has notified management of its intent to negotiate, but not under the current proposed terms. In 2003, Midwest flight attendants took concessions to help the company avoid bankruptcy. Shortly after the concessionary contract was signed, management rewarded themselves with pay restoration and increases, while flight attendants and pilots continued to work under the reduced wages and work rules.
Currently, Midwest Airlines flight attendants earn between $17,000 and $39,000 annually. Should the airline management's proposed pay cuts be implemented, the flight attendants would earn only $13,000 to $25,000 per year.


Rafal said...

I have been googling for something else, but I accidentally opened this site, and I am deeply shocked, how low are wages of flight attendants in the US. Still Midwest wants to cut them? This is ridiculous, I would rather pay extra 5% even 10% extra as a passenger.
I know that costs of living are lower in the US than in Europe but, still attendants can not use their discount tickets and go for a holiday to Europe because cost of good hotel, food, and car rental, would take quarter of their annual salary!

Anonymous said...

What about those who already have taken a 100% cut & LOST their ENTIRE income as FA's & Pilots!

Let them SHUT DOWN MIDWEST, just like MIDWEST did to their CONNECT in APRIL when they put over 300 people on the UNEMPLOYMENT line & didn't think twice, look back or Give 2 Beans!!!

Anonymous said...

I have just returned from travel on a true Midwest flight, not to be confused with the Republic outsourced flights. Great crew and service on both flights. We were originally 5 people but Midwest bumped three due to plane changes. Flight there had at least 10 empty seats and back 7 or 8 were empty. That is BAD management. You would think at some point the stock holders would hold them accountable.