Report from Las Vegas!

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RAFA attends the 2015 AFA Board of Directors meeting 


Previous RAFA Intl President, Georgia Nielsen, was honored at the BOD meeting for founding RAFA!
Pictured above are, front row: Georgia Nielsen, Linda Puchala (former AFA Intl President and current Chair
    of the U.S. National Mediation Board) & Pat Friend (RAFA RMC President and former AFA Intl President).
                   Back row: Cicina Norton (current RAFA Intl President and SFO RAFA President), Jaime Chilson (LAX RAFA rep),                         Linda Farrow (former Vice President AFA MEC), Maribeth Kuhn (ORD RAFA President), Ronn Brunelle 
(LHR RAFA President), Karen Kitt (RAFA Intl Membership Chair and SFO RAFA Vice-President) 
 & Martha Casne (RAFA Intl Vice-President and SEA RAFA President). 

Association of Flight Attendants

43rd Board of Director’s Meeting

April 27 – 29, 2015   Las Vegas, Nevada

Report by Maribeth Kuhn, (ORD RAFA President)

     Every once in awhile we decide to go somewhere unusual, to be a part of something from our past, something that was of significant importance in our lives.    We are not always sure why, but we feel as if we are being pointed in a certain direction.  As President of the Chicago Chapter of RAFA (Retiree Association of Flight Attendants) I was invited to attend and join in on some events at the 43rd Board Meeting.  I was astonished and overwhelmed by the experience.  I thought you would be interested so I am sharing some of the highlights that took place during the three day Board Meeting.

     To say that AFA has changed in the last 40 years would be putting it mildly.  In the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s the United MEC represented over 20,000 flight attendants in eleven bases.  The leadership in each of these bases was young, in their 20’s to 40’s.  AFA also represented other large carriers although none as large as the UAL representation.  We represented Alaska, Hughes Air West, Hawaiian, Aloha, USAirways, Republic, Evergreen, Braniff, the original Frontier and ONA among others.  I distinctly remember when the leadership decided to represent small, regional carriers.  Our decision was primarily because they were a threat to our wages and working conditions but we also felt they deserved to be represented by a union.

     In the 1970’s the union work for flight attendants centered mainly on protecting the rights of workers.  We were able to take advantage, and help, to implement the 1964 Civil Rights Act gaining improvements on the issues of parenting, race, marriage, gender, weight restrictions and aging discriminations.  In 1972 the first male FA at United Airlines was hired.  Prior to that time the only male FA’s at United were Hawaiian Stewards kept on a separate seniority list.  A few carriers, mainly international, hired male flight attendants as pursers on International flights.  The purser position, with higher earnings rate, was closed to women on major US carriers. 

     The current International President of AFA-CWA is Sara Nelson.  Young and energetic, Sara is a United FA.  Her wide ranging work experiences make her a competent advocate for her AFA members.  Today’s AFA members work at big, small and medium sized carriers.  AFA flight attendants encounter challenging and vastly different work environments.  During the second day of the AFA-CWA Board meeting President Sara Nelson honored four women who have been pivotal in the stabilization and growth of our ranks.  These women are:  Clare Burt, former FA for ONA airlines flying MAC Charters during the Vietnam War, now a master negotiator for AFA; Linda Farrow, soon to be retired FA with United, past MEC Vice President, negotiator and Local Council President; Diana Hui Hui, FA with Hawaiian, member of every Hawaiian negotiating committee for the past 30 years; and, Diane Tucker, United FA, Local President Seattle base, past negotiator and tireless worker for AFA-CWA members.

    As I sat in the audience I realized that our union is in a transition.  All of these four honored women, and others who have shared many of their goals, are retiring.  All of them have much to be proud of as they worked to ensure a strong, democratic union.  These women helped build our union, and these women learned how to be leaders by listening to their members and taking advantage of the times they lived in.  They did well!  Each will be sorely missed not just by me but by all of us.  I am humbled to have been able to celebrate their contributions.  Our challenges are different today, our leaders are different, but the attack on middle class families is the same.  If the future is to be ours we will have to remember the past and embrace the potential. 


The AFA Board of Directors meeting in Las Vegas         


 Sara Nelson (AFA Intl President) & Dan Nielsen look on as Georgia Nielsen responds to the resolution honoring her as founder of RAFA.    Georgia & Cicina       


Dan and Georgia Nielsen with Ronn Brunelle, Martha Casne and Cicina Norton                                    


Karen Kitt and the colorful RAFA table with our logo, photos, membership brochures                         


RAFA officers met and discussed various issues with other BOD attendees                                   


 Pat Friend and Linda Farrow             Cicina Norton and Jaime Chilson                                   


RAFA's International Officers (Marian, Cicina and Martha) at the outdoor reception RAFA hosted to honor Georgia Nielsen     


Cicina and Georgia at the outdoor reception               Maribeth Kuhn and Pat Friend                                         

Photo credits: Karen Kitt and Marian Bruns 

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