The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

United misses pension payment

Jul 19, 2004

On June 14, United Airlines said it was "putting off" paying 72 million dollars into its pension funds. Using its status in bankruptcy to get around the legal requirement, United also blamed the Transportation Stabilization Board for turning down its request for loan guarantees.

Just two days before, United executives warned employees that the company would have to dig deeper on costs – that is, it wanted more concessions from United workers.

The company had already taken massive concessions from the workers. Pilots's pay was cut 29%, flight attendants 9% and mechanics, baggage handlers and agents 13%. After numerous layoffs, the remaining workers now handle the same number of passengers as before, but with reduced break times, forced overtime, speed up and overwork.

This first round of cuts was approved by the workers, who apparently hoped that the concessions would protect their jobs. In fact, all they did was open the door for the company to come back again and again for more concessions. Two months ago, United and the unions agreed that 27,000 retirees should pay 50 million dollars a year out of their pockets for health care.

It's like a thief who robs you. If you don't do something about it, he'll come back again – and again. United workers don't have to let these thugs running the company walk all over them. They have the forces and the power to bring United to heel – to make it bring its pension plan up to what's needed, and to give back the concessions. The money is there to do it – in United's accounts – or in the accounts of all those companies United is financially linked with, starting with JP Morgan Chase and Citibank, the giant banks calling the shots at the company.