The "Corporate Campaign" Strategy

Helping Labor Unions and Public Interest Groups Confront Unbridled Corporate and Political Greed since 1981

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IFFA vs. TWA/Carl Icahn: 1986-87

Helping Flight Attendants in Tough Times

In the latter part of 1986 and early 1987, Corporate Campaign, Inc. provided support services to the 6,800-member Independent Federation of Flight Attendants (IFFA). The union's president was Vicki Frankovich, who had been selected as one of 13 Ms. magazine "Women of the Year" in 1986 "for her idealistic fight to show the country, in this year of corporate takeovers, that workers are more than passive assets and that flight attendants are proud professionals."


Cover of CCI produced brochure

Corporate raider Carl Icahn took over TWA in 1985 and forced IFFA to strike on Mar. 7, 1986, after demanding a 44% concessionary package including a 22% wage cut. Pilots and ground crews did not honor IFFA's picket lines. TWA brought in 2,200 "permanent replacements" — mostly young, inexperienced recruits with only 18 days of training. On May 17, IFFA made an unconditional offer to return to work and thereby end the strike. The union continued a boycott campaign and stayed involved in legislative and legal battles. It took three years, but IFFA eventually won reinstatement for all the flight attendants who wanted to return.

CCI raised substantial sums of money to sustain IFFA's fight by reaching out to tens of thousands of unions and other organizations in its nationwide database. Several leaflets and brochures promoted the TWA boycott and exposed some previously little-known scandals and embarrassments (such as a record number of consumer complaints; increasing structural and mechanical malfunctions; replacement of experienced and safety-conscious employees with 19-year-old "raw recruits;" passenger injuries that might have been avoided, and environmental fines and penalties imposed because of hazardous waste dumping).

In both the Eastern and TWA campaigns, CCI contributed significant staff time and resources to cash-starved unions and received fees only in the form of a small portion of the money it raised.