Are you listening AFA? It sounds like we have a nice quote to use at our next contract talks: "It is a tribute to you that, in United's hour of greatest need, you have shown immense reserves of patience and altruism in dealing with the consequences of flight cancellations, understaffing, meal modifications, inoperative cabin equipment, and outmoded telephone systems that result in lengthy waits to reach the crew desk." This quote comes directly from Goodwin, Fields, and Dutta directly to the United Airlines Flight Attendants via a letter they released on August 18, 2000.
This letter goes on to say, "Perhaps most disconcerting of all for flight attendants - whose vocation is caring for people - you have borne the uncertainties created by disruptions to your schedule and unforeseen separation from your family members and loved ones." Whose vocation is caring for people? Is the ancient stereotype of the flight attendant profession a nurturing female 'caring' and attending to the weary travelers of the world still permeating the halls of World Headquarters? Yes folks: like Mr. Rodgers down in the neighborhood, we do care for people---that should come with any job or situation in life! Or, are we now considered lumped into the profession of Doctors and Nurses, who also 'care' for people?
Of course not.
Our profession has evolved and expanded since the days of propellers. Our profession is now clearly about our role as safety professionals. During our last contract talks, United Airlines management promised to "increase mutual respect for the rights and responsibilities of flight attendants." This is clearly mentioned in the Preamble on page one of our business document (otherwise known as our Contract) that was signed on December 3, 1997. For Pursers, our new position also includes leading the crew onboard. We are paid to perform these services and many of us perform them quite well.
Now, if you wish to add 'caring for people' as a financially measurable and tangible work task, and are willing to pay us a competitive rate for this measured work skill, then okay...our vocation can be 'caring for people'.