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    United flight attendants rally at LAX for higher wages
    • October 26, 2023

    United Airlines flight attendants staged a rally Thursday, Oct. 26 at Los Angeles International Airport, claiming they’re underpaid and not being compensated for the time they spend boarding, deplaning and waiting between flights.

    Wielding signs reading “Pay us or chaos” and “Ground time pay leads the way,” they made their concerns known to travelers coming and going at the airport.

    An estimated 1,500 United flight attendants based out of LAX are represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA. Their labor contract was last amended in August 2021.

    Thursday’s LAX protest was part of a national Day of Action that saw thousands of United flight attendants rallying at nearly 20 airports across the U.S., including San Francisco International Airport, George Bush Intercontinental/Houston Airport, Denver International Airport and  Newark Liberty International Airport, among others.

    In a statement issued Thursday, United said it’s seeing progress in negotiations, adding that the two sides have reached an agreement on six sections of a proposed labor contract (Photo courtesy of AFA-CWA)

    The workers say they’re standing up to “corporate greed” and are calling on management to negotiate “the contract flight attendants deserve.” The protests come on the heels of United posting nearly $15 billion in revenue for the third quarter of 2023.

    They’re also seeking rules that give more control of their time and compensate them when operations are disrupted by weather or staffing shortages, and they want management to improve their health insurance coverage and other workplace benefits.

    In a statement issued Thursday, United said it’s seeing progress in negotiations, adding that the two sides have reached an agreement on six sections of a proposed labor contract.

    “We are hopeful that this progress will provide momentum toward our goal of reaching an industry-leading agreement,” the airline said. “All United flights will operate as planned while our flight attendants exercise their right to distribute information and picket while off-duty. “

    Timothy Trueman, AFA-CWA’s council vice president for Los Angeles and San Diego, said flight attendants are putting in lots of hours they’re not being paid for.

    “Even though their wages might seem high, they only get paid once the door closes on takeoff to when the plane rolls into the gate,” he said. “So at the end of the day they might have worked 13 hours, but only gotten paid for seven.”

    New flight attendants average $25,000 to $30,000 a year, Trueman said. Those with five to 10 experience average $40,000 to $50,000, and senior flight attendants with more experience make $65,000 to $70,000 annually.

    “We’re looking for an increase to offset what inflation has done,” he said. “We’re trying to get cost-of-living wages and improvements to our benefits.”

    The flight attendants also picketed LAX in September 2022, claiming a shortage of crew schedulers, caterers and other service workers often left them stranded for hours waiting to know when they would be headed out for their next flight.

    Trueman said morale is low among the workers.

    “United has been reducing staffing and tightening up scheduling,” he said. “And we’ve had a lot of disruptions from the weather and staffing issues with air traffic control.”

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    ​ Orange County Register