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America@Work

American, United and Delta Team Up Against Flight Attendants

By on October 25th, 2015

Flight attendants at virtually every US airline are experiencing a very challenging period in their careers. As airlines earn record breaking profits, many employees say they’ve been, at the very least, duped as they are expected to endure stagnant pay and exploitative work rules. The DOJ investigation into price fixing among major airlines may have quieted down, but the collusive environment in the airline industry will definitely be leading to even more scrutiny.

Whether union or non-union, airline workers feel taken advantage of by airline management teams who’ve repeatedly come to them in tough times to ask for concessions; using slogans like “Pull Together, Win Together” and promising employees that their sacrifices would be rewarded when profitability returned. However, when profitability did return, executives and shareholders were the only ones to benefit and worker found themselves earning the same or less in real wages than they did 20 years ago.

Since all major airlines have created policies which provide for discipline and even termination for those daring to speak out publicly, I’ve chosen to continue to speak on their behalf.

Eventually, the injustices that are being experienced by workers at US airlines and other large corporations will result in serious operational breakdowns which will have Americans pointing fingers at the very people I’m about to mention as well as those who share the same ideology. #CrewCode

“Employees have had enough of being used as piggy banks by corporate executives with a plan to tire them out physically, emotionally and financially only to replace them with new, lower paid workers then repeat the process” — Gailen David

American Airlines
Doug Parker, CEO AA
Laura Glading, former-Pres. APFA

Laura Glading and Doug Parker worked out a concessionary deal for American Airlines flight attendants during American’s bankruptcy and before the merger of American Airlines and US Airways. In other words, she crafted an agreement and made a bevy of promises to Doug Parker who was not even an officer of American Airlines at the time. Tom Weir, was then VP and Treasurer of US Airways and holds the same position now at American. He is also the cousin of Laura Glading and the relationship provided a very convenient way for Doug Parker to secure enormous labor cost savings.

Even though flight attendants voted down the concessionary agreement put out to them for a vote, the agreement was then forced onto them and to this day most of the meager financial improvements promised have not been implemented. In other words, the flight attendants are working under rules put in place in during American’s bankruptcy even though American made $4.2 billion in 2014 and $1.6 billion in the 3rd quarter of 2015 alone.

Using union-busting techniques engineered by an army of consultants, American’s management has been able to basically take control of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants. The main communications officer for the APFA, Leslie Mayo, even crossed over to a new position at AA’s headquarters. Prior to defecting from APFA, Leslie showed up in Las Vegas at the Board of Directors Meeting of The Association of Flight Attendants (a much larger union representing flight attendants at 18 airlines) specifically to misreport the state of that union to members of the APFA.

Fed up with the corruption, flight attendants at American began a campaign calling for the recall of Laura Glading but Ms. Glading resigned before the recall voting process could even take place.

American’s flight attendants have since hired a law firm to prompt the DOJ to investigate the negotiations process of their 2014 imposed contract. Doug Parker has continued to state that he no plans to reward flight attendants for their contribution to American’s profits now or for their concessions in years past which have helped American become the world’s largest airline once again.

United Airlines
Jeff Smisek, former CEO United and Marcus Valentino, Continental MEC President

Closely linked to Laura Glading is Marcus Valentino, who represents flight attendants at United who previously flew with Continental Airlines. As the Association of Flight Attendants has worked to negotiate a new agreement to cover all flight attendants of the new airline created by the merger, Valentino has worked to create division, confusion and disruption which has facilitated UAL management’s stalling tactics and held up United’s flight attendants from getting the contract they deserve.

By delaying the contract at United in any way he can, Marcus Valentino has also kept American Airlines flight attendants from benefiting from the potential gains of United flight attendants. When flight attendants at American rejected their tentative agreement, they also prevented Laura Glading from removing a stipulation that requires American to adjust their flight attendant contract should a United agreement lift the industry average.

Why would Mr. Valentino want to delay the contract? It may have something to do with the almost 200 hours of flight pay per month he receives as well as a downtown Chicago apartment, near United’s corporate offices on S. Wacker Drive, all of which he’ll lose when a contract is ratified.

How could Valentino be part of an effort to deny over 50,000 flight attendants what they rightfully deserve — a disgrace.

Richard Anderson and Allison Ausband
CEO and VP Inflight at Delta Air Lines

The strategy at each one of these airlines is different, but the goal is the same; to deny hard working employees the compensation, work rules and basic protections they rightfully deserve.

I recently wrote an article that outlines what it is like to work for Delta. Mr. Anderson and Ms. Ausband enjoy referring to Delta as the envy of the industry and in a lot of ways they’re right. However, it’s the Delta people who’ve made it the great airline that it is. Most on the outside are unfamiliar with the ‘dark side of Delta’ which punishes and/or terminates employees with little recourse for anything from calling in sick, to complaining about work rule infractions or even being written up maliciously by a fellow employee.

Richard Anderson, Delta CEO, also served as CEO of Northwest Airlines which was heavily unionized. When he arrived at Delta, he found a culture of cooperation which he obviously identified as a weakness. The non-union environment at Delta inflight service allows work rules and compensation to be set by and changed arbitrarily by Delta at any time. In the past, Delta has used these freedoms liberally and many do not wish to be subjected to that type of uncertainty in their careers. This is one of the main reasons the unionization effort at Delta is in full force.  To deflate the unionization campaign, Delta recently provided flight attendants with a substantial pay raise which, as expected, is much less generous when accompanying changes to employee benefit costs and work rules are figured in.

Although Delta claims to be allowing flight attendants to make their own decision as to whether or not they desire union representation, crews are being perpetually bombarded with anti-union propaganda as well as experiencing a variety of other tactics being used by management to vilify the union campaign.

All Delta flight attendants are asking for a bargaining agent, to have their compensation and work rules in contract form and  for due process in the event of discipline or termination.

It’s a Concerted Effort

If you don’t think all of these airlines are working together to short-circuit employees, think again. Basically, Delta’s leaders participate by providing just enough to their people to have them lose the desire for union representation. At the same time, employees at American and United question their own unions who’ve not brought them the same increases that Delta employees are receiving. All the while, the management at American and United work to destabilize unions as I’ve described above by convincing certain unscrupulous union leaders to see it management’s way even signing agreements to make it virtually impossible for workers to fight back.

The cycle will continue until all flight attendants come together and refuse to play along any longer.

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45 Comments
  1. Reply

    Janet

    October 26, 2015

    Perfectly stated. I wish we can have this printed nationally. We should have this sent to major networks across the US.

    • Reply

      Name

      October 26, 2015

      yes it’s very true. Former CO FAs are very hard core Marcus, however they are blinded by him. He’s very much on the inside. They refuse to accept facts and if he is fired from the union position, they vow to decertify AFA, at all costs. Remind anyone of a cult?

  2. Reply

    Lovely

    October 26, 2015

    Wonderful article…….please keep up the goo reporting.

  3. Reply

    Lovely

    October 26, 2015

    Wonderful article…….please keep up the good reporting.

  4. Reply

    Brian

    October 26, 2015

    Gailen,

    Please don’t try to associate Marcus with the shenanigans that occur with AFA. He’s not delaying anything. Quite the opposite…he is protecting the former Continental flight attendants. I’m sure if you had a view from the inside at United your view may be different.

    Perhaps it’s the United part of AFA delaying the contract with the outrageously bureaucratic and slow system in place just to approve a new contract proposal. Or how about the fact that it seems United AFA just likes to say “no” to anything offered and constantly fails to actually try to work “with” the company to come to any understanding.

    I’m also sure if the shoe were on the other foot you would wait until you got the money you deserved in your contract rather than trying to settle for something just so AA could get that “me too” clause. Since that clause is in the AA contract who cares if you have to wait for more money? I would wait for you if I had the clause because I would hope it meant yet another raise for me.

    Gailen, I do support you and was extremely supportive of you when you made your videos which ultimately led to your release from AA. However, please make sure you have both sides of the story before making remarks like this and attacking the character of an individual. Have you ever met Marcus or chatted with him? Chatted with the Continental FAs?

    Please do and then update this post to reflect the feelings of both sides.

    • Reply

      UA flight attendant

      January 30, 2016

      You’re being blinded by a judas. Valentino would sell his own mother for the right price.

  5. Reply

    Kent

    October 26, 2015

    I was aware of some of these issues but was not privy to the remaining topics addressed, primarily with United and Delta. Thank you for providing this all-encompassing view. It’s apparent and abhorrent that management is greedy but this level of corruption, collusion and nepotism needs to stop. United got rid of their lead thief; now it’s time to bring the rest of the posse in to the grand jury!

  6. Reply

    Wi Lo

    October 26, 2015

    Information is totally incorrect relative to Marcus Valentino and AFA. Marcus is not the problem, he has saved people’s jobs when the AFA sub-UA side wanted to furlough them and has produced his pay stub numerous times attesting to the fact that he is not making 200k a year. Your bashing Marcus Valentino is totally irresponsible reporting and you should be ashamed of yourself. Curious as to where you may have received your FACTS or if you are a Sara Nelson advocate as your report has a very pro Sara Nelson spin to it. In reality, it is Sara Nelson, Ken Diaz and Joey Guider who are causing divisiveness and stalling during our negotiations. Had you actually researched this issue with UAL and AFA, you would have discovered that there is a movement to recall Sara Nelson, and if ineffective, decertify AFA. Your attempt at slandering Marcus Valentino is totally irresponsible reporting and has turned your blog into nothing more than STAR magazine or the Enquirer. Remember that there is more than 1 side to every story, just as UAL AFA has 3 subsidiaries, UA, CO and CMI. If Sara Nelson and here cronies were truly concerned they would be working to bring everyone together, rather than focus on building an indestructible wall around themselves at the expense of the largest dues paying member subsidiary. Totally disappointed in your one sided, and totally inaccurate reporting.

    • Reply

      Forced Over

      February 10, 2016

      Marcus did not “save jobs” he made a back room deal with the company against the collective flight attendants interests of a joint contract to force over the sUA flight attendants to sCO, loosing all their seniority to work as new hires at sCO or be involuntarily furloughed with no benefits. The true AFA union offered voluntary furloughs with health and flight benefits which many got to benefit from that win win situation until Marcus made that back room deal…. He also is accountable for the highest unjustified use of union dues…. $700,000 in one year which is why Marcus stepped down instead of facing prosecution. Because Marcus was in the back pocket of the company, the company wanted to make a backroom deal with the honest AFA to resolve the current grievance issues in exchange for not prosecuting a thief… luckily the union did not agree. It seems hard for the company to justify its firing of flight attendants who have economy cheese and cracker snack in their bag after not firing someone of this character.

  7. Reply

    Susan Durant

    October 26, 2015

    Thank you Mr David for writing such a great piece! It is nice to see that someone out there cares. I was lucky and retired before AA really went downhill, but I still support the F/As and I am sponsoring several of the new f/as who can’t afford the fee for the lawyers. I hope your article is widely seen by the public!
    Susan Durant

  8. Reply

    Karin

    October 26, 2015

    This exact same scenario is being played out at my airline.

  9. Reply

    Melissa Turchetta

    October 26, 2015

    Very well written and sadly, all true. Watching the industry change for the worst is not only shameful, it’s heartbreaking!

  10. Reply

    Ela

    October 26, 2015

    While everyone is focusing on the majors, we at the regional level are getting even more squished. Our union, AFA, is not representing the interests of the entire group equally. We have issues at the local level but the national folks basically defer to the locals and we are screwed, all the time paying dues. It is hard for me to be pro union but it is also hard to be pro company. I guess it is generally hard to be the little guy. I do wish that we could band together our issues may differ but I feel that some common solutions would ease everyone’s burden. And saying “it is industry standard” is not good enough because it is the industry that is squeezing the life out of us. Thanks for the article…. still feeling hopeless.

  11. Reply

    K Redding

    October 26, 2015

    Well, while I cannot claim to know the in and outs of United and American. I can speak to Delta Culture. What you describe as a weakness for our Group is actually a strength. While these other airlines have layers they have to go through to get things done, we have a direct relationship with our management. and please don’t group Richard and Allison in with the other CEO’s and VP’s that you mentioned.

    I will tell you that these individuals have shown more caring for our group in just the last 3 months than those others have shown in …… If you have never worked for our company then why not keep your innuendo to yourself. I can tell you that in my more than 40 yrs of working various careers this company, far outshines any I have worked for in the past.

  12. Reply

    Edwin

    October 26, 2015

    Excellent article Should try to put it in newspaper for every to see and understand a lot better the whole negociation deal.

  13. Reply

    M torres

    October 26, 2015

    I have no idea where you got your information but is completely inaccurate and completely bias covering the ones that are really the ones to blame. The real culprits or the predicament we find ourselves today at United is the complete and total fault of the AFA. At the time of the merger they decided to go after their own section 6 dismissing the opportunity to go for a combined contract. This decision, their decision move every subsidiary to create their own distinct and autonomous Master Executive Council to administer all the individual contracts for each subsidiary. We have been without a contract for five years now since the merger took place. Time and time again the AFA promised and expedite negotiation for a prompt combined contract. The Join Negotiating Committee is comprised of members of the three subsidiaries and Marcus Valentino is not part of this process. The only thing he is guilty is for trying to bring transparency to this corrupt Union and direct membership voting for all matter including e election of officers to union positions. This has always being shot down by the ones in power just to secure their position and perks as union officials. Not only one gets paid this perks THEY ALL DO, but some do the job they were elected to do. It would be wise before you print something check your information and your sources. Naming names and making accusations could be very very costly.

  14. Reply

    Rob Riddel

    October 26, 2015

    I love this. I’ve been a fan ever since “aluminum lady”. I work at WN but I know a few people at AA and they say your imitation OF her was EXCELLENT.

    You left WN off that list but the same thing is going on here…

  15. Reply

    Ryan

    October 26, 2015

    You are a dumb fuck. Go home. Get a job.

  16. Reply

    Kathryn Fadeley

    October 26, 2015

    Hope this can be brought to the publics attention ! I started in 1971 with Braniff and we have struggled all these years to make this a professional job and the new management’s are destroying what we have worked for. It’s a blatant example of greed.

  17. Reply

    Andrew bharath

    October 26, 2015

    It all comes down to the company and unions. This company only believes in profit sharing for their management and stockholders ,whereas the employees are the reason this company made profit. I call this political and mental bullying and even though the employees complain..all the times ,they do have a perfect reason to do so. So if this company wants to pay cheap for the most outstanding service then the CEO will have to revamp the whole system where he can actually get the type of people to work for this type of wages and benefits. We have had soo much to deal with and there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. How much longer could we keep doing this? What happened to fairness and equality? Is money making these companies blind to issues concerning the employees? Quote ” if you want to go from point A to point B you need a FULL tank of gas, not a half tank.” Their idea of making it to point B is at the half way mark we come out to push the car the rest of the way. I am sorry but that is totally impossible. Give us profits and wages and make this a better place to work in.

  18. Reply

    John

    October 26, 2015

    The unionization effort at Delta is not in full force. That ship sunk on April 6th when the IAM withdrew their application for an election, without as much as a whimper of a protest. The majority of us have had it with their “let’s keep shoving it down their throat” campaign and maybe they’ll relent. Other than monthly dues the IAM has NOTHING to offer us. I was PMNW for 21 years. My quality of work life, work rules and pay that I now enjoy at Delta surpass the low pay and restrictive work rules I had to tolerate at Northwest. And trust me, as someone who has now experienced both, this ‘Delta is the Dark Side’ is laughable.

  19. Reply

    Lisa

    October 27, 2015

    You can add Southwest Airlines flight attendants to your article. We are battling the same situation with our union and SWA corp.

  20. Reply

    Alicia

    October 27, 2015

    Thank you for posting, Mr. David!
    As a flight attendant for a legacy carrier, I see the constant challenges we face under anti-labor management. The airline industry has been through a lot since 2001 and so have the flight attendants. We are only asking to participate in the success of the carriers we help sustain.

  21. Reply

    Al Guntharp

    October 27, 2015

    You’re a douche! Delta is the best company to work for. I am a flight attendant with 29 years with the world’s best airline. We have voted down a union many times. We make the most money, have the best profit sharing and we have the best relationship with our management team. Never, ever compare us to those union represented airlines. We are so far above those poor people who have to work for lesser companies. Apologies to American, United, and Southwest. We are the envy of the airline industry.

  22. Reply

    jan smith

    October 27, 2015

    Interesting that you lay the blame at Marcus Valentino’s feet and do not bother to mention the double dealing and shenanigans of the sub United union officers and the AFA International………………very one sided and mis leading

  23. Reply

    Rick

    October 27, 2015

    Delta employees have gotten 17.5% raises over the past 2 years and receive yearly bonuses according to profit (last year’s bonus was over 16% of yearly earnings) They are on a hiring rampage and state their criteria for termination clearly. I don’t know about the other airlines but my mom works for Delta and she LOVES her job.

  24. Reply

    Teri

    October 27, 2015

    Thanks for the insight.

  25. Reply

    Joss

    October 27, 2015

    I had already said the grass isn’t greener at Delta.

  26. Reply

    Amy

    October 27, 2015

    Just a thought. Probably should have interviewed Marcus Valentino personally before slandering him. There are 3 sides to every story and apparently you’ve got one.

  27. Reply

    Lieselore Barnes

    October 27, 2015

    So true, go do something about it!

  28. Reply

    Tom

    October 27, 2015

    BWAHAHAHAHAHA!! You are joking, right? Is Sara Nelson now writing under the pen name Gailen David or are you on the AFA payroll directly now?

    Let’s start with the joint contract at American, which was negotiated by a JOINT team of LAA and LUS stews. As in, equal numbers of LAA and LUS stews. Negotiated AFTER bankruptcy. Not during. If you’re upset about the contract, there are plenty of people to blame, but I would start with AFA attorney Joe Burns. He advised the nego team. He put the hard 40 in the contract. Now he’s working for AFA on a campaign to take over APFA, steal the money the union has in the bank, and jack up the members’ dues. Do you think it’s possible that he also sabotaged the contract negotiations to make sure the AA stews would be divided after the ratification vote??

    And your “unbiased” analysis of the United mess is laughable. AFA is negotiating the contract. They fought the battle to represent stews at United/Continental on the basis of being able to deliver a contract. The International President of AFA is a United flight attendant. And Marcus Valentino has single-handedly held up contract negotiations for this long? Say what you will about Laura Glading, but she got LUS and LAA to work together to get a contract done in one year. It’s not perfect and that was probably Joe Burns’ intention, but it’s worth a hell of a lot more money than UAL’s. Think of the money United stews have left on the table because Sara Nelson can’t get her union’s act together.

    Nice try, Gailen but I think any truly savvy stew is going to see through this nonsense for what it is: part of a larger effort to get American flight attendants under AFA.

  29. Reply

    Tom

    October 27, 2015

    PS. I love the hack photoshop job of Laura and Parker with the private jet. Try harder, Gailen. You have so much to give.

  30. Reply

    Noel

    October 27, 2015

    If memory serves me right the APFA and APA were so incensed with AA management that they made a deal with the devil should jcba talks stagnate, binding arbitration. The TWU reluctantly went along with merger MOUs but it did not agree to binding arbitration. I dont know what APFA and APA were thinking but any seasoned union rep knows binding arb is bad for unions especially given the industry landscape. Interestingly enough both pilots and FAs are stuck with substandard deals while the ground workers negitiate historic deals. Hind sight is 20/20 but even the blind should have seen this coming. Classic example of letting emotions and politics decide your fate.

  31. Reply

    Serach

    October 27, 2015

    Gailin hit the nail on the head. All flight attendants should get together. The union guy at United – should be ashamed of himself – nothing short of GREED and abusive!

  32. Reply

    Fabio Giro

    October 27, 2015

    Wish i can see management do the job we do and get paid what they pay us!!!

  33. Reply

    Peter Santiago

    October 27, 2015

    Mr. David,

    I am asking that you reach out to Mr. Marcus Valentino and interview him. Everyone respects you and I just think that you need to do an in depth investigation as to what is going on between Sub-United and Sub-Continental representation. You need to reach out to him so that both sides are understood clearly. I was a pro-supporter of AFA and now I am not. I am still very pro union but we need a fair system of representation. The battle of power has overshadowed the representation of all its members. Get an interview so that you can be in the actual loop of what is going on and maybe write another article explaining what is going on in our house at United. Thank you.

    Peter Santiago

  34. Reply

    Emmanuel Fardoulis

    October 28, 2015

    If Every flight attendant did not go to work the airlines would crumble as they would have to pay out of their own pockets to get some flying going.

  35. Reply

    Gus kantaras

    October 28, 2015

    Mr. GAILEN,

    Let me start off by saying that I’m I was hired as a flight attendant by Continental Airlines back in 07. I do agree that things have been a mess since the merger with United Airlines. However, your article about Marcus Valentino is way off my friend. He is the voice of us Continental Airlines flight attendants. He is protecting the people he represents because all of us Continental fas have everything to lose with this merger. The AFA is trying to oust Marcus which would leave us the sub Co side without a voice and that’s not fair. We were promised by AFA that a joint contract would first be reached before we join MECs and now they are going back on their word to try and get rid of Marcus and the Continental voice! We on the Continental side are very thankful for Marcus and hopes he stands his ground! So you don’t know the half of it sir!

    • Reply

      Forced Over

      February 10, 2016

      sCO has gained new domestic and international flying in world class cities LAX, SFO, DEN, ORD, IAD, LAS, BOS, holding lines with months of seniority and can gain a civil reserve system with free health care, retirement, quality hotels and humane layover lengths… what exactly are you loosing? sCO gave united EWR and IAH and threaten to take away our healthcare, the protections provided in our reserve system, our flying (currently forcing sUA to be on reserve at 28 years seniority by giving all new planes and flying to sCO) If United saved sCO from its final bankruptcy… what are you loosing?

  36. Reply

    Ayn Landon

    November 1, 2015

    I agree 100% with you on AA

  37. Reply

    Jeanna

    November 5, 2015

    Spot on about that other Texas based airline!!! Our union pres and most of her board have got to go!

  38. Reply

    M

    November 6, 2015

    I completely agree with you and believe this information needs to be communicated to the general public and publicized to all news networks across the nation. I’m a Flight Attendant for United and am completely fed up with the BS we’ve had to deal with since we merged with Continental!! Please help us STOP THE MADNESS of these damn corporations!!

  39. Reply

    Loretta rood

    January 6, 2016

    Thank you for your article. I worked for northwest airlines then delta once we merged. I started late in life and was at Nwa 10 years. While I was at Nwa Richard Anderson was there then left to work for United healthcare and came back to delta. That is atleast 3 golden parachutes for him. Well good for him. I started working in 1999. There were always rumors we would merge with delta. We talked about it jokingly. Then it happened. I do believe the plan had been hatched years before it happened but that is just my opinion. I lasted 5 years after the merger and although delta provided more flexibility in scheduling, the other changes for me created a miserable working environment. People who haven’t had a union don’t know how important it is. I retired last July and hope my ex coworkers get a chance to vote again. They work unbelievably hard and deserve a fair chance at a vote.

  40. Reply

    Sam

    January 29, 2016

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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Gailen David

TV Host, Executive Producer and Labor Activist

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