Remarks by AFA-CWA International President Pat Friend at the Reception of the 2007 BOD Meeting
Greg Davidowitch accepts the Ada Brown Greenfield award on behalf of Iris Peterson as Pat Friend holds a picture of Iris at a recent Union meeting.
Ada Brown Greenfield is one of the founders of AFA and as such, The Ada Brown Greenfield Lifetime Achievement Award honors a member at or near retirement who has distinguished her or himself through a lifetime of contribution to the advancement of our union.
This award is not to be awarded on an annual basis, rather only when a deserving Member is identified. That is what makes this award unique. A nominee must exhibit a lifetime of achievement rather than a single contribution; be a role model and an inspiration to colleagues through her/his work for our Union; and be esteemed for her/his high level of professional and personal integrity.
Tonight's recipient of the Ada Brown Greenfield Lifetime Achievement Award fulfills those nominee criteria and more.
In April of this year, the most senior flight attendant in the airline industry retired from United Airlines after a 61 year career. And this year AFA celebrates its 62nd anniversary, and tonight's recipient participated in the dramatic changes in our industry and our union over the past six decades.
It is rare that we have the privilege of honoring a member who contributed so much to our cause.
When Iris Peterson began her flight attendant career at United Airlines in 1946, jet engines were still blueprints and discrimination against women in the workplace was at its high water mark.
Iris took measure of her working conditions, our profession and the discrimination that relegated her fellow flight attendants to second class citizens and set about to make the meaningful and historic changes we all enjoy today.
It is fitting that we highlight Iris's accomplishments to complete our recognition of her.
In 1950, United flight attendants engaged in their own merger of sorts, joining the Air Line Stewards and Stewardesses Association which was part of ALPA then. Iris adapted to the changes and began working to change our profession and union for the better of all flight attendants. The Air Line Stewards and Stewardesses Association later became the Association of Flight Attendants.
In fact, Iris and AFA's founder and our special guest Ede Lauterbach helped conduct the airline industry's first evacuation tests in 1952. These evacuation tests led to the first regulations requiring flight attendants onboard all US commercial flights as cabin safety personnel.
In 1953, she became the first official lobbyist for the Air Line Stewards and Stewardesses Association, often finding herself the lone woman and the lone voice for flight attendants in the halls of congress. She was often patronized by congressmen and their staff members, but Iris persevered against great odds.
In 1968, Iris participated in the development of safety plans for the first jumbo jet aircraft which improved the crash worthiness of those aircraft.
Our tribute to Iris tonight is not just a walk down memory lane. Her lasting legacy teaches us that our union and our profession are one, and should not be viewed as separate exercises or separated by the style of uniforms or the names of our carriers. We are all in this together and I can think of no better example of the true meaning of solidarity.
On September 24, 2007 the AFA-CWA Executive Board unanimously voted to award Iris Peterson the Ada Brown Greenfield Lifetime Achievement Award and tonight the entire AFA-CWA Board of Directors recognizes the lifetime of her contributions to our profession and our union.
United MEC President Greg Davidowitch will accept the award for Iris and will ensure that she receives this small token of our greatest appreciation.
AFA Press Release Announcing Iris' Retirement