The Association of Professional Flight Attendants union president Laura Glading plans to step down by the end of the year.
Glading, who has led the union of 25,000 American Airlines flight attendants since 2008, sent a letter to the union’s board on Saturday saying she planned to resign, effective December 2.
Her term as president was scheduled to end in about six months and Glading said she did not plan to run for a third term after overseeing the union during American’s bankruptcy and subsequent merger with US Airways.
However, Glading has faced criticism from union members for negotiating away profit-sharing during talks with American’s new management team. There is a rally planned in front of the union headquarters in Euless on Monday where members say they want to “kick her to the curb,” for not adequately representing flight attendants.
The union’s fall board meeting is scheduled for Monday and Tuesday where some board members planned to ask for a recall election of Glading.
“I have no intention of letting our union suffer the turmoil that these actions - and reactions - would undoubtedly precipitate,” Glading said in her resignation letter to the board. “I can’t imagine exposing our union to this turmoil when all that this ballot, if successful, would do is reduce my term by no more than a few months. I won’t let our union be subjected to the expense, distraction and divisiveness that charges and counter-charges will surely breed. And I won’t let our union waste the $200,000 of union dues it would likely cost to send out a ballot that does not improve the work life of a single Flight Attendant on a single trip.”
Glading was first elected in 2008 and then re-elected by a slim margin, about 150 votes, in 2012, while American was still operating under bankruptcy protection. She, along with the leaders from the pilots and mechanics unions, agreed to support US Airways chief executive Doug Parker’s attempt to merge with the bankrupt American. Parker promised higher wages and job protections to the unions if the unions supported his bid and gave up profit-sharing plans.
With American making billions in profits the past two years, flight attendants have criticized Glading for giving away the profit-sharing plan. Some filed a letter with the Department of Justice, alleging that the agreement between the APFA and Parker denied the flight attendants the opportunity to negotiate a fair contract, particularly since Glading’s cousin, Tom Weir was also treasurer of US Airways at the time.
Keep reading for the full letter from Glading.
Laura Glading letter
October 3, 2015
APFA Board of Directors,
When I was elected to my first term as National President of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants almost eight years ago we were working under a concessionary contract. We began negotiations immediately with a strong start, but in 2008 oil prices rose to record-breaking levels. A year later, the U.S. economy was crumbling. American quickly adopted its mantra of zero-sum - any improvement would be offset by a concession of equal value. By 2011, three years after our negotiations had begun, American had shifted its focus away from bargaining to staving off and eventually filing for bankruptcy.
Late that year when it became clear that AA was on the brink of a Chapter 11 filing, I decided to run for a second term. I simply could not walk away when the Flight Attendants were about to endure the devastation bankruptcy has historically - and would most likely - deliver. I believed then, as I do today, that continuity of leadership was important to ensuring our workforce had a voice at the table
From the start, American’s bankruptcy traveled down a road that had never been taken before. Through the solidarity of the APFA membership and support of the Allied Pilots Association and the Transport Workers Union, we were able to influence and even help steer our Company into a merger with US Airways. This was simply unprecedented in any bankruptcy.
As a result we went from American’s 1113 proposal to gut our contract and eliminate 2400 jobs, to a merger that would result in the hiring of over 3,000 new Flight Attendants. If not for this incredible, unprecedented accomplishment, the 5,000 most junior Flight Attendants would not even be here today. In addition, we preserved and improved our work rules, and raised our wages by over 13% for the Legacy American Airline (LAA) Flight Attendants and over 16% for the Legacy US Airways (LUS) Flight Attendants. We secured a claim through the reorganization process that resulted in the LAA Flight Attendants receiving valuable shares of stock in the reorganized Company.
Over the past nine months we have worked tirelessly to implement the new Joint Collective Bargaining Agreement (JCBA), incorporate the LUS bases into our system of governance, and do everything else possible to fully integrate the operations of two very different airlines. The Joint Scheduling Implementation Committee (JSIC) and the Joint Implementation Resolution Committee (JIRC) have spent thousands of hours making sure that the dozens of changes mandated by the JCBA are put in place as quickly as possible. Every day the JSIC speaks with Company officials and members of American’s IT staff about the progress and challenges of implementation. At the same time the JIRC oversees the LUS scheduling systems of Preferential Bidding System (PBS), Iterative Schedule Adjustment Period (ISAP) and the Electronic Trade Board (ETB).
While all this has been happening, APFA’s legislative team has been committed to keeping Open Skies open by preventing government-sponsored airlines from destroying what has been up until now a level international playing field. We continue to fight for legislation and regulations that will once and for all eliminate Flight Attendant fatigue and guarantee cabin air quality.
I want you to know that many of your fellow Flight Attendants have worked, and continue to work, tirelessly for you. Words cannot express the gratitude I have for all of APFA’s Department Chairs; committee members; the Joint Negotiating Committee, JIRC and JSIC; the Regional Representatives; the Executive Assistants; the entire staff at APFA Headquarters; my fellow National Officers (past and present) and all of the APFA Representatives that take on the extraordinary responsibility of giving all they have to give to improve and protect the livelihoods of our members. They have endured unprecedented change with professionalism, dedication and optimism.
All of these achievements reflect the work of a strong, united team. And although we have healthy and necessary debate at the union leadership level, we know progress is achieved when we are represented, and speak with, a unified voice.
However, today, our voice is not unified and I believe some appear to have lost sight of our duty to represent and advocate for our fellow Flight Attendants. Consequently, we have not always been able to do what we’ve thought was needed. We tried to institute new programs to better serve our members, including educating new hires on the whys and wherefores of unionism generally and APFA specifically. We tried to conduct a survey of our members last summer in light of the fact that the last major one we did was years ago and we haven’t done one since the merger. For reasons that I still cannot fathom, a majority of the current Board of Directors rejected these efforts. More disheartening though, is the fact that they offered no alternatives that would similarly engage or benefit our members. That is precisely the wrong direction to go as an organization. With new hires coming onboard every month, we must build for the future of APFA and we must engage with this next generation of members. My hope is that the next administration will pick up that mantle and execute an engagement and education program that reaches all of our members.
My current term will expire in less than six months and we are now preparing to elect new National Officers. Although I have publicly announced I will not seek a third term, some of our Board members are considering the deployment of a provision in APFA’s Constitution that was never intended to be used as a political weapon. At the next meeting of the Board on October 5 and 6, these Board members would like to put forward a resolution that may result in a balloting of the membership on whether I should be recalled as APFA’s National President.
The background on this provision is important for you to know, and the current state of play is as follows: In 1990 the APFA leadership appointed a committee that included several APFA past Presidents to completely overhaul our Constitution. That Constitution continues to be the foundation of our organization today, and although there have been a few referendums to modify it, there has never been consideration or discussion on the two specific processes for recalling a national officer. The Constitution provides that APFA will issue a recall ballot through either of the following two mechanisms: 1) if 30% of the members in good standing sign a petition in support of such a ballot, or, 2) if two-thirds of the Board move to mail such a ballot to members’ homes. The same Constitution Committee that created the processes for recall has recently sent a letter to our Board explaining that a resolution by the Board to initiate a recall ignores the very reason these processes were adopted.
The committee members explain that a ballot to override the members’ election of a national officer to a four-year term is an extraordinary event. If members are dissatisfied with a national officer, the Constitution allows them to seek recall by having 30% of the membership sign a petition. If the APFA Board of Directors sends out a recall ballot, it would only take this step in extreme cases of good cause (i.e. acts of misconduct that render the officer unfit for office); not for reasons of perceived popularity or petty politics.
In addition to their opinion letter, the Constitution Committee sent the Board of Directors a copy of the 1985 Stu Adams-Lundy Arbitration Opinion and Award - a document that they relied on heavily to protect a majority rule and the stability of our union when drafting our Constitution. Both their opinion letter and the award were posted on the hotline and are attached to this letter.
In response to the 1990 Constitution Committee opinion letter, a number of APFA members have informed the APFA that should the Board pursue its recall initiative, they will file internal disciplinary charges under Article VII of the Constitution against those Board members who vote to send out a ballot. Such charges would result in a series of expensive and prolonged arbitrations.
I have no intention of letting our union suffer the turmoil that these actions - and reactions - would undoubtedly precipitate. First, I can’t imagine the chaos of putting out a recall ballot while on the eve of an election for a new National President. I can’t imagine exposing our union to this turmoil when all that this ballot, if successful, would do is reduce my term by no more than a few months. I won’t let our union be subjected to the expense, distraction and divisiveness that charges and counter-charges will surely breed. And I won’t let our union waste the $200,000 of union dues it would likely cost to send out a ballot that does not improve the work life of a single Flight Attendant on a single trip.
The 25,000 members of the APFA deserve far better than what their Board of Directors is considering and the devastating and lingering aftermath it would cause. If any of us can stop it, we should.
During the decades that I have served APFA as a representative, especially during the almost eight years I have served as National President, I have had to make some extremely difficult, at times even gut-wrenching and heart-breaking decisions. I have never made one decision that I did not firmly believe was in the best interest of the membership.
The amazing calls, emails and letters I have received over the years - and particularly in the past few months - have given me inspiration, strength and direction. And I will forever appreciate the support of the APFA membership throughout the most trying of times.
A crew recently asked me if I had any regrets since taking office. My response was - and still is - that I have thoroughly loved serving the membership, and that, my only regret is the time not spent with family and friends.
To prevent the distractions, divisiveness and expense that a recall ballot resolution would cause, and for the betterment of the APFA, I have made the decision to tender my resignation as National President of the APFA effective December 2, 2015.
APFA National President