United Airlines flight attendants picketed Thursday at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to draw attention to their contract fight with the company in the midst of the busy year-end travel season. The Association of Flight Attendants, which represents 24,000 United flight attendants, planned protests at 17 airports plus United headquarters, but did not expect travel disruptions.
The flight attendants’ union is the last major group without a joint contract after the 2010 merger of United and Continental. Talks have been going on for three years, and they are currently in mediation.
“They’re reaping record profits, and we feel that we should be participating in those profits,” said Paul Antuna, a union leader and United flight attendant for 35 years. In addition to seeking higher pay and benefits, the union is negotiating over work rules like rest time and the types of hotels where flight attendants can stay.
United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said in a written statement: “Our customers can be confident that their travel will not be impacted. We want our flight attendants to have an opportunity to vote on an industry-leading joint agreement.”