United said Wednesday that it will furlough about 685 flight attendants as part of a $2 billion annual cost-cutting plan announced last year. “What it comes down to is simply the promise of United’s merger not being realized,” said Greg Davidowitch, AFA President at United, in a press release. “Successful airlines do not lay off workers,” Davidowitch said. “We continue to meet with management and offer creative solutions to an involuntary furlough; while also addressing the company’s needs to mitigate an overage in manpower.”
United said it failed to attract enough takers for its voluntary furloughs, forcing it to implement the tough decision for the most junior members.
CNBC provides a bit more background:
The 688 flight attendants at United will be furloughed in April despite a hiring push for the same position at Continental, which hired 485 last year. The action stems from the inability of United and its union to agree on a unified contract for the combined airline. “We have offered opportunities to flight attendants for both voluntary furloughs and job-sharing programs in order to mitigate involuntary furloughs, but these programs did not generate enough volunteers and we are faced with the difficult step of furloughing 688 flight attendants,” United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said Thursday in an email to CNBC. McCarthy said that last year the airline offered the Continental jobs to the United flight attendants, but the union declined any crossover. As a result, Continental hired 485 flight attendants last year and is hiring an additional few dozen language-qualified attendants this year. Christopher Clarke, spokesman for the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA for United, said the union had accepted the crossover offer in November with the condition that no other furloughs would happen.