It has come to the attention of the Master Executive Council (MEC) that some Virgin America Members have concerns with the appointment of Lynne Voigtsberger as Merger Representative. The concerned members have suggested that Lynne crossed a union sanctioned picket line while she was a TWA Flight Attendant in the ‘80s. The MEC asked Lynne to provide her perspective on the allegations. The MEC subsequently discussed the situation and reaffirmed that it would be in the best interest of the membership for Lynne to remain in her role as Merger Representative for Virgin America.
In response to these concerns, Lynne has prepared a statement:
First of all, I would like to thank all of you that have supported me the past few weeks with the appointment to be one of the Merger Representatives for Virgin America. I have personally experienced the turmoil of an unfair seniority integration and I am determined to see that we have a fair and equitable integration as we merge with Alaska.
For those of you that don’t know me, I was a Flight Attendant at TWA when they merged with American in the early 2000s. Our merger was infamous, as TWA F/As were “stapled” to the bottom of the American Flight Attendant seniority list that caused us to lose all our seniority. That merger resulted in legislation to protect Flight Attendants in all future mergers, which we know as the McCaskill-Bond Act. This legislation requires seniority to be merged fairly. Going through that experience at TWA made me passionate to never see that happen again to another Flight Attendant. I am especially grateful for this opportunity to represent my Virgin family to ensure a fair merging of seniority takes place.
With that said, there is more to my history that I would like to shed light on. It has been brought to my attention that many of you are concerned about my union relationship while I was employed at TWA. Upon hearing that rumors have been surfacing, I feel it is important to explain my history and call out the “white elephant” in the room so to speak. Although it surprised me to hear that something that happened over 30 years ago is causing concern, I want to address the issue openly in order to clear the air and set the rumors to rest.
I was hired at TWA in January 1986. I was a young 25-year-old and excited to fulfill my lifelong dream of being a Flight Attendant for one of the most respected airlines in the world. I was trained in Kansas City and housed with all the other new-hire trainees nearby. During training, we were essentially isolated from the rest of the world, and had no idea of the rising unrest that was occurring within the ranks of TWA Flight Attendants and management, due to failed negotiations.
I began flying in February and less than a month into my probationary period, TWA Flight Attendants went on strike. As a probationary Flight Attendant, I was an At Will employee and not covered by union protection, so participating in any work stoppage activity was strictly forbidden. The company made it clear to all the probationary F/As that if we participated in the strike, we would be fired. On top of that, the union would not be able to protect us if we were terminated. I was given essentially no choice but to work or lose my job. I chose to work.
The strike lasted for 3 months, and was only the beginning of trouble at TWA. Relationships suffered as many broken friendships and divorces took place and people couldn’t pay their mortgages and lost their homes. It was a difficult time. The company made it next to impossible for anyone that participated in the strike to come back to work, so a lot of resentment built up and caused division within the work group that lasted for many years.
Having experienced that and later experiencing one of the worst mergers in history, I feel I am more than well equipped to represent Virgin during this merger with Alaska. My past has offered me a wealth of experience and knowledge. Those difficult times made me stronger and made me who I am today, and I feel that with this history I am the best choice to represent us in this merger.
I understand that my past at TWA may cause some to form a less than positive opinion of me, and I respect that. It will not be an easy job; however I am more than willing to take on the responsibility and challenges that come with the position of Merger Rep. I have chosen to look forward and take the lessons from my experiences to heart. I am committed to represent all of you to the best of my abilities, and I sincerely thank all of you for your understanding and support.
If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to your Council 35 officers at email@example.com.