US Airways Cracks Down on Sick Time Abusers

December 29, 2004 ( - US Airways, hard hit by an employee sickout over the Christmas weekend, has warned employees it would discipline workers who abused the sick time system.

The beleaguered air carrier said it would conduct an “enhanced review” of each worker’s attendance record from December 23 to January 3 to figure out who should be disciplined, or denied pay, because of the spike in sick calls, the Associated Press reported.

US Airways Group Inc. canceled hundreds of flights in the days around Christmas. The debacle left an estimated 10,000 undelivered bags at Philadelphia’s airport and stranded travelers along the east coast.

Also, in a message to its employees, US Airways sought volunteers willing to give up their New Year’s Eve plans and work for free in Philadelphia. It said they could expect to be used as customer greeters, ramp agents or baggage sorters.

The president of the US Airways unit of the Association of Flight Attendants posted a message on the union’s Web site this week chastising workers who failed to report to work over the holidays. “By now, we have all seen the reports on the news about the operation of our airline over this past holiday weekend, and how that operation failed miserably. This was caused, unfortunately, by a minority of employees who appear to have decided to take some type of action against the company,” wrote Perry Hayes. “Sadly, the employees who took this action may ultimately cause the failure of the airline.”

Union leaders have denied there was any organized effort to get workers to call in sick, and some dispute that this year’s sick calls were much different from those around any other holiday. Some 306 called out sick on Christmas Day this year, compared to 298 in 2003, according to the news report.