After listening to Mayor Rudolph Giuliani criticize their airline’s managers for two days, representatives of TWA’s employee unions responded Saturday with charges that he was trying to capitalize on a tragedy.
“To Mayor Giuliani: Now is not the time to make this tragedy a personal agenda or political career,” Sherry Cooper, president of the TWA flight attendants union, said at a news conference. “It serves absolutely no useful purpose. It does more harm than good.”
More than 100 co-workers cheered her comments. The workers, wearing white ribbons in memory of the 54 fellow TWA employees who died in the crash, had gathered around Cooper at the Ramada Inn near John F. Kennedy International Airport.
“Our TWA family has suffered a great loss,” said Capt. Don Jacobs, chairman of the TWA branch of the Air Line Pilots Association. “Fifty-four of our loved ones were taken.”
Giuliani has charged that TWA officials lied about how soon they notified families of the crash and that they withheld information from loved ones desperate for news. Following the unions’ news conference, Giuliani said that he had never blamed the rank and file, only management.
“There was a serious lapse in the first 18 hours,” he said. “I think that TWA is doing a very good job now, but I think that the notification process has to be changed. It should be fixed in the future, instead of playing the corporate-speak game.”
Jacobs said delays occurred because officials wanted to make sure their announcements were accurate.