20 May 2008

Flight Attendant Firsts at United Airlines

I've long known that the very first flight attendant, Ellen Church, worked for Boeing Air Transport, which is United Airlines today.

But what I also found out, during a check on Wikipedia, is that United was also the first airline to unionize its flight attendants, back in the 1940s.

Sarah resented being represented by a labor union at first, due to the seniority system and union dues. But now, she really appreciates the work by Association of Flight Attendants, which made the profession less sexist and less objectified, improved working conditions, and most importantly, allowed someone like Sarah to become a flight attendant at all. AFA also played a role in getting Sarah's job back after layoff, as United Airlines exited bankruptcy and improved its finances in 2005-2006.

I recently wrote an assignment for a writing class where Sarah elaborates further on her unionized job, so it's nice to know about Sarah not only being the successor to the very first flight attendant, but also being the successor to the first unionized flight attendants. Good thing I picked United as Sarah's airline - though the transgender-friendly management at American would've also been an excellent choice.

No comments: