Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Airline Union, APFA, to Begin Charging Those on Military Leave for Membership Dues Accrued While Defending Their Country
PR Log (Press Release) – Jan 12, 2010 – (Euless, Texas) —

Change will require all members on Military Leave of Absence to pay back dues upon returning to work in order to maintain employment.

In an unprecedented move, the flight attendants at American Airlines, represented by the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), have voted to change the rules governing unpaid leaves of absence as they pertain to our nation's active military reserves. The change, soon to take affect, will require all members on Military Leave of Absence to pay back dues upon returning to work as a requisite for maintaining their current airline employment.

The union, suffering economically from years of attrition brought on by the company's 2003 Restructuring, decided that there's no room for free riding members anymore, and that includes those returning from active duty in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The resolution states that dues are the "near-exclusive source of revenue" for the organization, and without the much needed financial boost the union fears it would be forced to cut back on much needed services.

While the organization understands the cost of freedom may come at the ultimate price — one's own life — the cost of a convention in one of the nation's metropolises can cost more than one-hundred thousand dollars. Voter turnout was less then expected with only 42% of the members taking time during the holiday season to cast ballots — the majority of those ballots flooding in from the airline's headquarter base, D/FW.

As one flight attendant put it, "The state of Texas has a major military presence, and many of the Airline's employees have relatives and spouses in the armed forces. For us, billing veterans on their return from service was a no-brainer: What better way to acknowledge their service to our country than by handing them a bill on the union's embossed letterhead." But not all flight attendants agree with this new policy.

While most understand the need to cinch the union's fiscal belt, some don't see how billing a dozen or so veterans for union services never rendered addresses the union's economic crisis. To them it appears more like political posturing than it does a sound business decision.

As flight attendant Tracey Crullers put it, "Why is the union placing so much focus on non-active employees when it should be focusing on active ones?" further adding that "even American Airlines gives our servicemen a free First Class upgrade when available, and nothing less than a complimentary sandwich, premium snack or a frosty beverage. It's the least we can do for those protecting our freedom. The idea of billing veterans is disrespectful."

The union, when asked about the timing of the referendum, stated that "the holiday season is a time when members are so busy trying to juggle schedules that they have little opportunity to zero in on the real issues pending their careers. Had the union waited until after the holidays, voter turnout would have jumped considerably. Given the sensitive nature of the issue — billing those defending our freedom — we just couldn't risk waiting until January.

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