Council 7 - London
Garland Baber Jr.
Review: May 27 Council 7 Meeting and May 29 MEC Meeting (May 31, 2020)
Review: May 27 Council 7 Meeting and May 29 MEC Meeting
This edition of the Council 7 e-Newsletter reviews the May 27 Council 7 meeting, as well as the May 29 MEC meeting.
May 27 Council 7 Meeting
Council 7 would like to thank all those who participated at the May 27 meeting – in fact, we hit the ZOOM capacity constraint of 100 persons and must apologise to everyone who was unable to join in. This problem, which stemmed from my oversight, has been resolved and we now have the capacity for everybody to participate online.
Update: After reviewing the importance of tolerance and being respectful of everyone’s concerns, the meeting started by checking in to ask how we are all coping. Many Flight Attendants are keeping themselves busy by volunteering, for example through initiatives such as Project Wingman and elsewhere. We were also reminded that many may be able to claim back tax (at: https://www.gov.uk/claim-tax-refund) – for example with respect to pensions contributions. A Voluntary Contributions Payment Certificate (VCPC) can be requested from Fidelity by calling +44 1737 838 585 (you will need your name, address, NI number and Fidelity reference number).
CQ vs. RQ at LHRTK: in order to avoid the risk of COVID-19 transmission, United’s TK centres closed mid-March. The airline obtained a 3-month extension from the FAA which allowed Flight Attendants with March, April and May CQ months to remain qualified respectively until June, July and August. Unfortunately, there are significant logistic hurdles involved in restarting the TK centres, including getting the instructors and the centre ready, obtaining the space at the BA facility, and working with significantly reduced class sizes (maximum of 8 people). The situation is further complicated by the 14-day quarantine for persons arriving into the UK, which goes into effect on June 8 and which will prevent many commuters and FRA-based Flight Attendants from participating. As a result, United revised its plans and will now allow Flight Attendants to become non-qualified before scheduling RQ training (currently a 2-day course). Please note that a non-qualified Flight Attendant will still be eligible for minimum pay guarantees.
Council 7 advocated that we adopt a different approach at LHRTK – focused on getting everyone affected through CQ as quickly as possible. United’s concern is that because they don’t actually know where anybody currently is – they are unable to tell who might be adversely affected by the quarantine and can’t afford to waste resources if TK slots remain unfilled. Council 7 has since reached out to the 125 affected Flight Attendants and been able to confirm that 100 are able to participate at CQ if such classes were to be offered in June or July. This information has been communicated to United and we hope for a favourable decision to restart CQ.
Next we reviewed the Agenda items for the Friday May 29 MEC Meeting – these are discussed in greater detail in the MEC review section which follows.
Resolution: with the support of Council 20 – Frankfurt, Council 26 – Hong Kong and Council 38 – Narita, we prepared a Resolution entitled “Celebrating our Union’s Diversity through Mutual Respect” which you can review at the end of this e-Newsletter. Some weeks ago the levels of intolerance seen on social media directed at the International Domiciles reached an unacceptable point. Although this was dampened by both vigorous rebuttal and an MEC letter of May 13 “AFA Flight Attendants, International Bases and the Words We Use”, a more formal response seemed appropriate. I am pleased to report that this Resolution was adopted unanimously, and will be recorded officially on the MEC website at https://unitedafa.org/afa/mec/resolutions/.
Upcoming MEC elections: the next MEC meeting, planned for June 16, will see the election of MEC Officers and Committee Members. The idea of organising online ‘get to know the candidate’ meetings had been floated – however, at the Local Council meeting we agreed that it would be preferable to hold these just with the Council Officers and relevant Committee Members.
Other business: several additional issues were discussed:
- Access to online learning facilities – currently there is a problem accessing the Union Plus free learning courses. The International Office has been informed and we hope this issue will be resolved in the near future.
- LinkedIn Online Learning – is available through CWA-Nett. Review and register for courses at: https://cwanett.weebly.com/linkedin-learning--free.html.
- Face masks – this is now a compulsory duty item for both Flight Attendants and Pilots and we should be wearing these at all times in the airport and onboard the aircraft. Pilots do not need to wear face masks while performing flight duties. Passengers are encouraged to wear faces masks, but we cannot force them to do so.
- A problem arose at the Denver Crowne Plaza hotel for anyone having made payments there in February – these were accidentally double-billed in May. Most should now have been refunded, however – if you have not been refunded, then please contact Erica Garner, Director of Finance at Erica.Garner@ihg.com or + 1 720-269-3213.
- A meeting with United and AFA Scheduling is planned on Thursday, June 4. Council 7 will be represented by Jo Aerts and myself. Currently, we would like to know:
Please let us know if you have any additional questions for Scheduling by contacting Council 7 firstname.lastname@example.org.
- When will LHRSW be assigned flying schedules?
- Will we know in time to request a COLA – for those who will have difficulty commuting?
- How to address issues faced by Reserves who commute?
- Given A/B Rotation and the size of the Base, what number of flights is required for LHRSW to become operational?
- Will West-Coast flying resume (and is it really cheaper to layover crews in London, rather than LAX or SFO?
- One Member wanted to know if we need to call ONSL in case of surgery. A Flight Attendant can only call ONSL if there is something in their Line against which Sick Leave can be credited – so there is no need to call ONSL until such time as we resume operations at LHRSW.
- For Flight Attendants who need to renew their BAA ID’s or otherwise park at the airport – we have the following clarification. United can make free parking available at the World Business Centre – however they at least 24-hour notice in order to arrange this. Please contact LHRSW management directly.
Final discussion revolved around upper management’s recent announcements and the concerns regarding making concessions at this time. Ken Diaz, the MEC President, recently made a key point – which is that “We Have a Contract” (see e-Lines, May 22). There are significant – voluntary – mechanisms available through the JCBA that allow United to reduce its Flight Attendant population. These weren’t negotiated in a vacuum – management must have wanted them, or they wouldn’t be there! Please also realise that nearly 50% of the Flight Attendant population – more than any other employee group at United – has taken COLA since the coronavirus pandemic began. We have, and continue to play a key role in keeping United’s costs under control! It is also important to realise that management is expressing a desire not to furlough any front-line employees, yet simultaneously telling us that the Line averages will be close to their Contractual ceilings come October 1. A certain Lewis Carroll story springs to mind…
May 29 MEC Meeting
This was the first ever MEC Meeting conducted online via ZOOM, which was facilitated with the support of personnel from the AFA International Office who handled much of the technical aspects. As a result, the meeting ran very smoothly and we are very grateful for their help.
Ken Diaz, MEC President, reported by presenting an overview of the current situation at United, with particular emphasis on the Voluntary Separation Program (VSP). It should be noted that the VSP was not developed with AFA input; furthermore, despite assurances that the MEC would have time to review the program particulars ahead of release, this did not take place.
The MEC next reviewed the Moratorium on the Disciplinary / Grievance process which had temporarily suspended the Disciplinary and Grievance processes during the coronavirus pandemic. Now that States are re-opening, these processes will resume in June, although it will be done virtually in several locations – including London. A follow-up meeting is scheduled for June 2 at which Maria Torre, MEC Grievance Chairperson, will provide further details of the new procedures.
The MEC office in Chicago will gradually reopen in June.
The Local Council Officers and Representatives for Council 38 – Narita were congratulated on their Local election.
Significant discussion took place concerning the June 16 MEC Elections meeting, and it was ultimately agreed that the meeting should take place virtually, using ZOOM. All AFA Officers, Candidates, Committee Members and staff will participate, and any Member in good standing will be able to follow the proceedings via a Webinar link.
With respect to the MEC Agenda items:
- MEC Benefits Committee Policy (C7 voted For) – this was amended giving the MEC Benefits Committee responsibility to educate and inform on all relevant Flight Attendant Retirement Plans, and passed.
- MEC Rules of Policy & Procedure – Vacation Fly Through (C7 voted Against) – this changes the MEC Policy allowing MEC Committee Members automatic rights to Vacation Fly-Through and Buy-Back, and passed.
- MEC Policy Manual (C7 voted For) – this requires the MEC Policy and Procedure Manual to be posted to the UALMEC website, and passed.
- MEC Communications to the Members (C7 voted For) – this requires all communication from the MEC to the Members to be approved by the MEC President (or designee), and passed.
- MEC Grievance Committee – this aimed to codify rules pertaining to the MEC Grievance Committee ‘At-Large’ Chair position, but was subsequently withdrawn.
- LOA’s, MOU’s & SLA – this aimed to make all Agreements and Understandings available. After clarification, the Agenda Item was withdrawn.
- MEC Committees (C7 voted Against) – this sought formal approval from an LEC-President before the MEC could avail themselves of the services of that Council’s Member for MEC related work. There were concerns about the workability of such a clause, and the Agenda Item failed.
- Meeting Minutes (C7 voted For) – after some amendment, this requires Meeting Minutes to be reviewed and posted to the UALMEC website after a 90-day period, and passed.
This report concludes with the Resolution. Please let Council 7 know if you have any further questions, concerns or comments.
Resolution Celebrating our Union’s Diversity through Mutual Respect
WHEREAS our Union’s Members at United Airlines are comprised of people from a wide range of different identities and nationalities who are based in twenty-three locations within the U.S. and around the world; and
WHEREAS an individual’s identity spans diverse factors including age, background, ethnicity, gender, history, marital status, military service, nationality, political and religious beliefs, and sexual orientation; and as Flight Attendants this also includes Lineholder and Reserve, Junior and Senior, Purser or Language Qualified, Base location, and so much more; and
WHEREAS all our Members, regardless of identity or nationality, work together as Flight Attendants aboard our airline’s aircraft where we share the same System Seniority List and Joint Collective Bargaining Agreement, and wear the same Uniform; and
WHEREAS all our Members, regardless of identity or nationality, rely on our Union’s collective ability to channel our resources and solidarity in overcoming challenges and devising solutions that protect our profession and advance our careers as Flight Attendants; and
WHEREAS all our Members, regardless of identity or nationality, have the right to be treated with dignity and respect; and
WHEREAS our Union celebrates the diversity of our Membership and acknowledges that leadership can help defend our Members against discrimination and harassment; and
WHEREAS our diversity is what makes us strong, since we are “Stronger Together, Better Together”; and
WHEREAS a harm to one is a harm to all; and
WHEREAS the worst crisis ever faced in aviation history can only be overcome by recognizing that every Member’s interest is vested in banding together through solidarity;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the United Master Executive Council reaffirms our Union’s Mutual Respect Policy and encourages all Members to do the same; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the United Master Executive Council objects to all forms of rhetoric that is harmful or disparaging of any Member’s identity or nationality in any forum and this extends to social media platforms; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Members of the United Master Executive Council commit to use all means available to call on Flight Attendants to be mindful that words have impact and that there are consequences for harmful or disparaging rhetoric; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the United Master Executive Council calls on all Flight Attendants to build solidarity by practicing kindness and respect for one another so that we may stand together united and face the difficult challenges that lie ahead, and;
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that: We are Stronger Together! We are Better Together!
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