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Association of Flight Attendants-CWA United Master Executive Council

MEC Grievance 2-14 Filed To Safeguard the United 685

Date: January 29, 2014
Type: AFA Article

On Friday we took clear and decisive action to protect the 685 Members subject to involuntary furlough and to enforce the terms of our Contract.

The Grievance demands that United Airlines withdraw its notice to involuntarily furlough approximately 679 subsidiary United (s-UA) Flight Attendants effective April 1, 2014.Tthis involuntary furlough constitutes an unlawful change in the working conditions for Flight Attendants in violation of the Railway Labor Act.  Additionally, it is a clear violation of the Letter of Agreement, titled "Protection Against Involuntary Furlough" dated February 28, 2012 which appears on page 305 of the 2012-2016 Agreement.

During the negotiations for the 2012-2016 Agreement, United Airlines and AFA agreed to the Protection Against Involuntary Furlough Letter of Agreement, dated February 28, 2012 to not involuntarily furlough any s-UA Flight Attendant on the System Seniority list on the effective date of the Agreement as a direct consequence of modifications to the 2005-2010 Flight Attendant Agreement.

Productivity Modifications
The 2012-2016 contract negotiations resulted in several modifications to the Agreement which have a direct effect on productivity, hence, this involuntarily furlough is a direct consequence of those modifications, including but not limited to the modifications below. These modifications have resulted in greater amounts of flying time per Flight Attendant under the AFA Agreement:

  • Section 7.A. and 12.G. — Monthly Flight Time Limitations, Unlimited Monthly Flying
  • Section 7.D. and 7.E. — Legalities — 8:30 in 24, 35 in 7, option to waive
  • Section 5.D. — Reserve Monthly Guarantee — 78 hours
  • Section 18.B.2. and 19.A. — Reduction of Vacation and Sick Leave accruals
  • Operational Flexibility — Extra pay for drafting, 5 for 1 pay, Operational Reliability Incentive
  • Letter of Agreement — Page 280 - Early Out
  • Letter of Agreement — Page 265 - Cross Over Hiring

Protection Against Involuntary Furlough
The Protection Against Involuntary Furlough Letter of Agreement also acknowledged that s-UA was over-staffed by 2100 Flight Attendants as of February 28, 2012. After the ratification of the Agreement on February 28, 2012, virtually all of the over-staffing of 2100 s-UA Flight Attendants was eliminated when 1282 s-UA Flight Attendants took the Early Out and an additional 119 s-UA Flight Attendants took the Cross Over Program. Since then partnership programs have been awarded to s-UA Flight Attendants as well as, special leaves of absence, 30 day ANP (authorized no pay) and daily ANP to reduce headcount. The Company has not given full credit to these figures, nor given recognition to yearly attritions for 2012 and 2013.

In November 2013, the Company advised the Union that s-UA was over-staffed by 1950 Flight Attendants. After the bid process for the voluntary furlough was concluded in 2013, the Company awarded voluntary furloughs to 1101 Flight Attendants, and offered job share-partnerships to 149 Flight Attendants. These voluntary actions by 1250 s-UA Flight Attendants preclude any claim that the furlough prohibition in the Protection Against Involuntary Furlough Letter of Agreement is not in full force and effect to block these 679 involuntary furloughs.

Despite the above actions which fully address any perceived over-staffing of the s-UA Flight Attendants, on January 15, 2014, the Company announced that 679 AFA Flight Attendants would be involuntarily furloughed on April 1, 2014.

AFA protests the unequal and discriminatory treatment that has been accorded to the s-UA Flight Attendants compared to the s-CO Flight Attendants employed at United.

The proposed involuntary furlough of s-UA Flight Attendants will cause immediate and irreparable harm to those involuntarily furloughed. Flight Attendants who depend on this income to sustain themselves and their dependents will be at risk of evictions, foreclosures, and an inability to support their families when the furlough pay runs out. Employer paid health insurance will cease after 90 days and those with continuing medical conditions will be at risk of interruptions in their health care, especially since COBRA coverage is prohibitively expensive for this group. Involuntarily furloughed Flight Attendants will cease to accrue inflight seniority and will be dramatically disadvantaged for purposes of bidding on schedules, vacation accrual, salary steps and future furloughs as compared to Flight Attendants not involuntarily furloughed in the event of a merger of the seniority lists for United Airlines Flight Attendants.  Additionally, the Company’s unilateral action of offering involuntarily furloughed s-UA Flight Attendants the option to accept a new hire position at s-CO does not remedy the violation of the Letter of Agreement on page 305.

AFA demands that United Airlines rescind its action to involuntarily furlough any s-UA Flight Attendant effective, April 1, 2014, and to the extent that such furlough occurs, that any affected Flight Attendant be made whole in every respect.

We Seek Expedited Resolution

Pursuant to Section 26.D. a decision is required within twenty (20) days.  AFA requests, however, that United Airlines shorten its time to respond to seven (7) days to enable this dispute to be resolved prior to the announced April 1, 2014 involuntary furlough.  Without waiver of its position, or of any legal right or obligation related to that position to proceed in another forum to obtain injunctive relief, AFA submits this grievance in an effort to secure an expeditious resolution of this matter.  AFA requests that the Company agree that the parties will promptly identify and select a mutually acceptable Arbitrator and schedule this matter for System Board arbitration as quickly as possible, and that the Company further agree that this matter be resolved prior to the commencement of the involuntary furlough date of April 1, 2014.

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