There is nothing wrong with the Flight Attendants at United. They should not be forced to make concenssions since they are the only group without industry-leading pay, in a career where industry-leading pay doesn't really mean that much more anyhow. The only fault they have is a leadership which went "sour grapes" with the 10-year contract is signed. Individually, most F/As are wonderful professionals (Flyua especially!
However, United's situation is not just the result of mismanagement. And it's not just because of the Summer from Hell, either. It is a two way street. Here is something I wrote a while back on that:
MAJOR DOWNFALLS OF UNITED
No one party can be blamed for United's position. Some of its most catalyzing mistakes have been the result of jilted relationships between management and labor that has cause both sides to engage in subversive, back stabbing behavior.
-APRIL 2000: US AIRWAYS MERGER-
MANAGEMENT'S FAULT: BAD TIMING
Corporate greed was at the root of this transaction. Management thought it could prolong the gravy train of profits while giving increased wages by dominating the skies through a purely monopolistic action. It, however, did not justify its intent to labor, which viewed it as the company spending money it could have given to employees in increased wages, rather than a vehicle to fund future increased wages. Management also poorly estimated opposition and competitive reaction to the merger, as well as bet the farm (by paying a ridiculous amount of money) by immediately starting on integration work before it even knew it would have a chance to be approved. $50 million worth of breakup fees were not the only thing lost, but months of management focus, research funds, marketing initiatives, etc. Everything was put on hold for the merger, which it should not have been.
LABOR'S FAULT: UNION SYCOPHANTS
The ALPA and IAM representatives should have resisted being paid off for their secrecy. Rather, they should have tried to shoot the merger dead in the water before labor's opinion was considered.
-SUMMER 2000: PILOT JOB ACTION-
LABOR'S FAULT: USING THE FLYING PUBLIC AS PAWNS
There could have been other ways for the United ALPA to redirect management's number one priority back to their contract, rather than showing up to work normally and then intentionally sabotaging operations. A strike would have been less devastating. Customers would have been inconvenienced less, with the airline rebooking them on other carriers instead of trying to run an operation that couldn't possibly run with any signs of reliability. The actions defied the pilot's code: the safety of their passengers in the sense that they would be stuck with amazing levels of frustration when pilots would willingly inconvenience them after seemingly able to fly the airplane. Customers should simply not be a tool in any negotiations. Customers should never been seen as potential hostages. There were other ways to impact operations without derailing passenger's journeys to such a catastrophic, unpredictable, and inconsiderate extent. The pilots brought the flying public to their knees with perfectly conscious minds, generating irreparable public relations damage.
MANAGEMENT'S FAULT: NOT FOCUSING ON POTENTIAL IMPACT
Again, a shut-down of the airline allowing customers to be rebooked on guaranteed flights by other airlines, instead of messy delays system-wide and a public relations nightmare would have been better. Management should have seen the extent to which pilots could have refused to work overtime. It also could have held off all activities on the US Airways merger and dealt squarely with the problem at hand: negotiations.
-LATE 2000: AVOLAR-
MANAGEMENT'S FAULT: TOO SIDETRACKED
Facing the increased costs of a rich pilot contract and prolonged merger approval and integration process, it sought yet another way to increase future revenues. However, it did not focus on streamlining and efficiency generating moves at its main business, United Airlines, in the aftermath of a devastating pilot contract situation and pending mechanic pay increases. It was doing the irrational thing of investing money in future pursuits that needed to be used for current issues. It's as simple as that. As if the US Airways merger was not enough of a distracted, the company also invested in dot-coms.
LABOR'S FAULT: ALPA INCONSIDERATION
ALPA agreed to the transaction only because it would enable some of its membership to be staffed. Meanwhile, it did not take the jobs of the other groups into consideration, leaving the AFA and IAM out.