While United Airlines, its unions and the PBGC traded pension-related blows in both bankruptcy court and in the media, some of the company's flight attendants took a different route to deliver their message: Five flight attendants posed out of uniform for a 2006 calendar entitled "Stewardesses Stripped (Of Their Pension?)."
The calendar doesn't mention United by name, but the group released the calendar in May, just around the time the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Chicago approved a deal allowing the carrier to terminate its pension plans — which have about $7 billion in assets and $16.8 billion in liabilities — and unload them onto the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. The picture for each month picture is accompanied by a line such as: "If your pension is terminated, will you be left with only a wing and a prayer?"
While the flight attendants, ages 55 to 64, didn't completely disrobe for the photo shoots, they took off enough "to create a national awareness to the naked truth that no retirement fund is completely secure and that there is a definite crisis in the pension guaranty system," according to a mission statement on the stewardesses' website at www.stewsstripped.com.
Connie Baker, a retired flight attendant and the calendar's creator, said she was inspired by the 2003 film "Calendar Girls," in which a group of older British women posed nude for a calendar to raise charity money. Retired flight attendants Linda Andrews and Rosemary Esparza also posed; Ms. Baker didn't want to name the others, as they're still working.
Ms. Baker said the response to the calendar has been "so overwhelming," and the women are considering a follow-up calendar for 2007 that could feature members of a different airline labor group, perhaps a group of mechanics.