US - United Airline flight attendants agreed to terminate their existing DB pension scheme and switch to a 401(k) plan with immediate effect.
Greg Davidowitch, president of master executive council of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, described the new defined contribution (DC) plan as significantly better than what United Airlines were originally willing to provide as a replacement to the terminated DB plan, as nearly 80% of flight attendants voted in favour.
With an effective date of January 1, 2006, the company direct and matching contributions start at 5% and escalate to 6% of flight attendants earnings within two years.
Also, flight attendants and United's other major employee groups have taken two wage and benefit cuts to aid the company in saving around US$4bn in costs to exit bankruptcy.
But Davidowitch stressed that members accepting the DB plan termination did not mean they condoned the actions by management that ultimately led to that point. “This vote does not endorse the course of events that led to the termination,” he said. ”Now is the time to move forward and turn our attention to the opportunities and challenges that will surely demand our attention in the future.”
On a national level, we need more responsible leaders in Congress who will fight for public policy that represents the principles of equality upon which this country was founded. Rightfully, our efforts are now focused on electing representatives in November who understand the importance of preserving workers' rights, healthcare, and retirement security while putting the brakes on the explosive disparity between worker and executive compensation.
By Damian Clarkson
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