SMLR Introduces Problem-Solving Model To Association of Flight Attendants’ New Bargaining Committee

In August, Dean Susan J. Schurman teamed up again with Peter DiCicco, her co-facilitator during the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) merger, to facilitate a meeting of the Association of Flight Attendants’ (AFA) newly formed United Airlines bargaining committee. 

Above: The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA)'s newly formed United Airlines bargaining committee joins Dean Susan J. Schurman and Peter DiCicco. 
Above: The AFA bargaining committee is introduced to the Interest-Based Problem-Solving Model.
Above: The group meets to discuss shared goals.

The AFA’s United Airlines bargaining unit was dramatically enlarged and changed by the merger of Continental and Continental Air Micronesia (CAM) with United Airlines. Flight Attendants at Continental and CAM were formerly members of the International Association of Machinists (IAM) while United Flight Attendants have long been the largest bargaining unit in the AFA. Airline employees are covered by the National Railway Act, which requires a new certification election in the case of a corporate merger. 

The AFA received the majority of votes the now 25,000 United Flight Attendants and must now prepare to bargain with the new United. The bargaining committee has the task of figuring out how to take three very different labor agreements and create a new contract that members will ratify. This involves such thorny issues as how to deal with seniority, schedules, work rules, and of course compensation. 

“It hasn’t been as challenging as I thought,” says Suzanne Hendricks, a flight attendant who has worked in the industry for more than 20 years. “We have common interests and goals and love our job and lifestyle.”

Dean Schurman and DiCicco introduced the group to the Interest-Based Problem-Solving Model that they used successfully with SAG and AFTRA as a tool to help them create new contract proposals that will satisfy members’ as well as the company’s interests. In addition, National AFA President Veda Shook attended part of the meeting to help launch the committee and express the union’s support for their work.  The first official negotiations session with United took place on August 27 in Chicago.