United wants help from flight attendants

United Airlines has about 1800 flight attendants returning from voluntary furloughs soon and Continental Airlines is due to be short about 800 flight attendants in the coming year. The holding company wants the flight attendant unions to help out by agreeing to shift employees between the two separately operating airlines.

The two airlines are merged but they are still operating from two operating certificates which are some time away from being combined into one. The unions are due to hold elections and then begin negotiating seniority lists thereafter. United says it can’t wait that long, however.

My prediction? You won’t see any cooperation from old United flight attendants on this issue. In fact, I’ll wager that they’ll use this as a bargaining chip against United management. If Jeff Smisek, CEO of United (and former CEO of Continental), thought that things would operate much as they did at Continental when it comes to employee cooperation, he’s in for a rude shock.

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