Union Members at O’Hare Walk Out on Kirby; Sick and Tired of the Same Old Lip Service

7 May 2024

United Airlines is no longer the airline it was under Oscar Muñoz. From 2015 to 2020, this company respected its employees, and, in return, those workers gave the airline the best years in its history.

Recently, United management has been eliminating Customer Service Centers and developing metrics that force our members to meet unreasonable demands. This practice has resulted in poor customer service for our passengers, including mis-boards, as well as increases in damages and on-the-job injuries.

Moreover, company management is demanding that Reservations Agents maintain scorecards of 97% or higher or face unfair discipline. Now, top management has launched an outright assault on Protected Work related to the movement of jet bridges by Passenger Service Employees.

Our Union Membership has had enough. 

Last week, United CEO Scott Kirby walked into a Customer Service Breakroom in Chicago to meet with front-line union members. He had hoped to pose for selfies and chat about how much United values its workers. Instead, all but two employees walked out on him.

Under Article 2 A 1 of the Passenger Service contract, the movement of jet bridges is protected as core work. Despite the clarity of the contractual language, United is insisting that it has the right to move that work to other groups.

In response,  last week, we also concluded a two-day arbitration case to let United management know we are protecting the work of IAM-represented Customer Service Representatives.

The company claims it can assign anyone to do any work covered under the airline’s seven different contracts. Management’s flawed logic would mean that a Customer Service Representative could be told to walk down the jet bridge, position a belt loader to an aircraft, and offload the aircraft. If that sounds like nonsense, that’s because it IS nonsense.

It’s also a sign of absolute disrespect to every IAM member covered under any IAM collective bargaining agreement at United Airlines. Even more maddening, Article 2 A 1 of the Fleet Service contract explicitly states that the movement of a jet bridge is NOT Fleet Service work.

This grievance is in no way an attempt to take work away from our Move Team sisters and brothers. In fact, it’s just the opposite: the goal is to help the Move Team do their job more efficiently by holding the Company accountable for assigning a Customer Service Representative to each aircraft brought to the terminal from another area.

A final decision from this arbitration hearing will take some time to arrive. Both sides are allotted around 30 days to write their post-hearing briefs. Once his process is complete, the Arbitrator will render a decision based on all the evidence and witness testimony.

We expect the decision to be handed down in July.  When we do, we will immediately report back to the membership.

Mike Klemm,
PDGC, District 141,
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers

Recording Secretaries: Please print and post on all IAMAW bulletin Boards.

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