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United Airlines employees picket at DIA over delays in finalized contract for flight attendants

Roughly 150 employees picketed for better wages and "ground time" pay.
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Posted at 6:32 AM, Oct 27, 2023

DENVER — On Thursday, 150 United Airlines employees picketed at Denver International Airport, expressing frustration after more than two years of contract negotiations.

"It's time for United to get serious and recognize the work that we do," said Chris Bruton, the Association of Flight Attendants' local council president.

Bruton has been a United Airlines flight attendant for 32 years.

"It's unrecognizable from when I first started. The hours are longer. The pay compared to what it was 20 years ago, 10 years ago, has not kept up with inflation," he said.

Denver7 requested the pay scale for United Attendants. The company wouldn't release actual numbers but did say the pay is set by the contract with the Association of Flight Attendants and varies on how long attendants have worked with the company.

The amount of compensation is one sticking point for the union. The other is getting paid for "ground time."

"We spend a lot of time between flights, a lot of time during delays, boarding, deplaning. And that time, we don't get paid for that," explained Bruton.

United Airlines is now Denver's most flown airline. The growth rivals United's own hub — Chicago O'Hare International Airport. According to United, O'Hare sees up to 500 daily departures on average. The company said DIA sees more than 450.

According to the most recent data out of DIA from August 2023, attendants manning United DIA flights have served 19,817,934 passengers year to date.

"We spend more time with passengers than anyone. United's success depends on the work that we do," said Bruton.

United Airlines declined an interview, but did release a statement saying it is seeing "good progress" in negotiations.

"We are seeing good progress in our negotiations with the Association of Flight Attendants and closed out six sections of our contract with them on Wednesday. We are hopeful that this progress will provide momentum toward our goal of reaching an industry-leading agreement. All United flights will operate as planned while our flight attendants exercise their right to distribute information and picket while off-duty."