Additional discussion concerning safety issues is available here

September 18, 2002 has received numerous complaints from mechanics at the Charleston AFB regarding UAL, and they all tell roughly the same story. One very common thread, mentioned again here, is the torque wrench: Despite not having the proper tool to torque engine bolts properly, the mechanics were forced to sign off on the maintenance reports, falsely indicating that the bolts had been torqued properly. As always, we welcome UAL to respond.

I worked 14 years as an aircraft mechanic for united Airlines.I had a spotless record and had been recognized for outstanding work by both United and Boeing. I traveled extensively to maintain and repair engines on out-of-service aircraft as a member of emergency field service. I was qualified in many areas including the ground taxi and engine run of 747-400s and 777s. I accepted a bid and left Chicago to perform contract work on U.S. Airforce C17 cargo plane engines at Charleston SC AFB.

After arriving in Charleston it became very evident that local management was not following standard FAA, Air Force, or company policies. Many safety issues were overlooked and ignored. Paperwork concerning Air Force engines was falsified. Tooling for critical tasks was unavailable at the station, yet required a mechanics signature stating that the tooling was used. Mechanics were intimidated to sign for the work. Mechanics were asked to ignore, and even hide engine discrepancies!

Untited supervisors were approached by several mechanics about these issues. As the mechanics' safety representative, I was one of those that inquired about these issues. I was threatened with job loss if I did not "keep quiet." I asked the three supervisors about the issues repeatedly. I was threatened repeatedly. My qualifications were revoked and I was told I would be discharged soon for lack of qualifications. Without being able to attain qualifications of my own, I was still assigned to train others on critical operations!

I flew to Chicago and met with a labor manager named Carl, to inform him of the improper behavior of Charleston's management. Carl advised me that my identity would not be revealed. I was encouraged to reveal information to him. After arriving back in Charleston a supervisor came to me and demanded to know why I had complained to headquarters. He said he was going to discharge me for reporting the violations.

I have now passed two separate polygraph tests given to me by the U.S. AirForce OSI/FBI. I am protected under the federal whistle blowers act. I have been told that there is an ongoing criminal investigation into United's supervision. I am still co-operating with investigators. The Attorney General's office has now become involved. I am told that the arrests may be made very soon.

United refused to give me benefits and all pay due after my discharge. My repeated requests have been ignored. United VP Andrew Studdert was well aware of the complaints I filed, since I faxed them directly to him. SC Congressman Henry Brown Jr. wrote a letter to United for a response to the charges. He asked that they respond to me, but that response never came. Congressman Brown has been very supportive.

United supervision is guilty of "Corporate Terrorism." This blatant disregard for the lives and safety of my fellow mechanics and U.S. Airmen is truly a crime. United now tries to hide behind a loophole in the law that gives a whistle blower only 30 days to report wrong doing. Surprise, surprise,...this case they will lose, as I reported illegal activity within the 30 days!

I would like to mention that this kind of activity is something I never experienced in Chicago. The supervision in Charleston seemed to have commited so many violations that they chose to force a coverup. United refuses to accept the fact that some managers are corrupt. It is very likely that over 200 engines are affected. Four mechanics protested officially, four were fired. On behalf of the honest mechanics I would like to extend prayers and apologies to all military personnel. My case is now awaiting arbitration.

Doug Niven (with permission)

January 20, 2002

More Evidence of United's Lack of Concern for Safety:
Mechanic Exonerated in United Airlines Whistleblower Violation

This article, which appears on the Chicago Mechanic and Related Grievance Committee's web site, should give passengers cause for concern: UAL is evidently less concerned with the safety of its aircraft than it is of intimidating its own employees. As always, we challenge the airline to respond seriously to these concerns.

LACONIA, N.H., Jan 15, 2002 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- The U.S. Department of Labor issued a Preliminary Order dated January 8th ruling in favor of United Airlines employee George Gulliford, in his case against United Airlines alleging that United Airlines discriminated against him in violation of 49 U.S.C. 42121. Gulliford is an associate member of AMFA (Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association).

Gulliford was reprimanded after reporting a crack in the Station 188 frame of aircraft 1366. He filed his complaint on Sept. 18, 2001 with the Secretary of Labor-OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) under the employee protection provisions of 49 U.S.C. 42121 of the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR21 Act).

Gulliford was represented by AMFA's attorney, Lee Seham of Seham, Seham, Meltz & Petersen, LLP.

"Unfortunately, it's common practice for airlines to threaten aircraft mechanics for reporting problems outside their work areas," said O.V. Delle-Femine, AMFA National Director. "We at AMFA say that's wrong. We're pleased there's now a law to protect mechanics and encourage them to come forward, and we're proud to have helped Mr. Gulliford earn his victory."

January 4, 2002

Airport Security Questioned

This article, which first appeared in the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 1782 website in mid-December 2001, raises some very disturbing questions concerning United Airlines' concern for the safety of its passengers. As we have on several occasions in the past where saftey issues have been raised, we challenge UAL to respond to this article and offer to post replies from the airline here.

Underpaid and unhappy United Airlines Customer Service Representatives are taking on a major role in airport security whether they like it or not.

Before September 11th, much of the problem with air safety was that Airlines hired low cost security contractors. Recently though, given the scrutiny they're under, these companies are paying higher wages; now, United's own employees cost less.

Actually, saying that United's CSR's are underpaid is an understatement. Most are earning less per hour than the kids flipping hamburgers at MacDonald's. The much-maligned Argenbrite Passenger Screeners are earning at least 30 percent more per hour to start than a new hire CSR at United.

What's equally disturbing is that United is short-changing the safety of the flying public. By forcing unwilling, ill prepared CSR's to screen passengers at departure gates and supervise checkpoints manned by the Argenbrite screeners, United is weakening FAA security directives.

The FAA has always required the Airline to have a Ground Security Coordinator (GSC) on duty at all times. Typically this was a senior management type who'd been through a three-day training course at Company headquarters. Since September 11th, the FAA has deemed it necessary to have a GSC oversee every checkpoint where screening takes place. Training now takes only eight hours and no longer includes passing a written test.

Citing the poor training, responsibility for security breaches, and having to oversee incompetent screeners, most United CSR's do not want to become security 'experts.' The duties not only invite random drug testing and interrogation by FAA officials, but also being written up every time the checkpoint screeners under your supervision fail the frequent FAA attempts to breach security.

The Public Contact Employees Union (IAMAW District 141) isn't challenging the Company over the big issue of whether a CSR's job description includes hand wanding, bag searches, and supervising checkpoints. The Union has, however, taken steps to insure that work rules governed by their current, expired contract with United are satisfied.

For example, when the Company forces employees to do work against their will, seniority must be considered. This means the least experienced, lowest paid employees are doing the security work.

The Union's position is understandable. It doesn't make sense to fight to keep members out of jobs. Big changes are taking place in the airline industry and when new jobs are created, it's to the membership's benefit to allow for interpretation of the contract that insures that members have claim to the work.

So what are the other options for United's lowest paid employees who don't want to be subjected to the responsibilities and requirements of security work?

Simply resigning from the specialized positions doesn't work. Instead, it needs to be revealed to the flying public and to the FAA what United wants to keep secret: That once again the airline won't pay for effective security. Employees need to publicize that United is short-circuiting the Government's intention to have highly motivated and well-trained professionals keeping airports and airplanes safe.

It's no secret that United has created an unpleasant work environment for frontline employees. The Company's relationship with labor is worse than ever, morale is at a low point. Ask anyone who has flown on United recently and they'll likely tell you that many CSR's seem to care less about being helpful let alone polite. Making these same people the airline's security force is irresponsible.

Unbeknownst to all but the Airline employees, the 'minimum wage workers' protecting the safety of air travelers are not the bored, non-citizens, staring blankly at TV screens as luggage passes by. They are the unhappy United CSR's supervising those very screeners, or searching passengers and their luggage at the departure gates.