INSIDE THIS ISSUE - May 28, 2016
• AFA Board of Directors meeting
• Seniority Integration Update
Andrew, Jerome, and Cameron spent 6 days in Atlanta for the MEC Meeting, and the AFA Board of Directors meeting. If you would like further clarification on anything you read, please call anyone of us for a one on one conversation.
44th Meeting of the AFA-CWA Board of Directors
Atlanta, May 23-24, 2016
The AFA-CWA Board of Directors meeting concluded earlier this week in Atlanta. A full report of the actions of the delegates will be posted at afa-bod.org within 30 days. In the meantime, please review the following for a summary of the meeting.
This year all of the delegates wore red AFA pins, demonstrating solidarity for current bargaining for AFA contracts and solidarity for striking 40,000 Verizon workers represented by CWA and IBEW. In uniform, the delegates of the Board stood for the National Anthem sung by AFA Mesa Council 88 member, Elizabeth Maben.
AFA members were welcomed to Atlanta by CWA Vice President Richard Honeycutt. CWA President Chris Shelton was represented by CWA Chief of Staff Ron Collins since DOL Secretary Tom Perez called Shelton and the Verizon CEO to the table to settle the strike. The Board watched this video about the strike and recognized that the fight against corporate greed was the same fight we take on in our own bargaining – their fight is our fight. We vowed to do more to support the strike and as we report on the summary of the Board, we are proud to note that moments ago it was announced that there is an agreement in principle reached at Verizon.
The AFA International Officers published written reports and addressed the Board. The reports and verbal remarks will also be added to the afa-bod.org website next week.
Congressional Issues and Strong Bi-Partisan Partnerships
Congressman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ-02), who also serves as the Chair of the House T&I Aviation Subcommittee, addressed the Board with a welcome video. We do not have a better friend from the House of Representatives in the Republican party than Frank LoBiondo. He has voted with us 100 percent of the time, on rest, human trafficking, Deny NAI, etc. and all issues related to our collective bargaining rights and safety. He is a real Flight Attendant hero and we are proud to partner with him on building bi-partisan support in Congress.
Fight for 10
The Board reviewed our Fight for 10 and AFA’s effective government affairs strategy. Together, we built a strong coalition with bipartisan support and a massive grassroots advocacy network. The video of the March 16th Rally for Rest was played.
The FAA Reauthorization bill provided the platform for our legislative focus this year and we succeeded in achieving inclusion of all of our issues. Most issues, in some form, are in both the Senate bill and the House committee report which provides a strong foundation for keeping them in the final bill:
- FAA Minimum Rest of 10 Hours and a Fatigue Risk Management Plan
- Human Trafficking Awareness Training
- Mechanical (non-chemical) Disinsection on Commercial Flights
- Ban on Voice Communications in Flight
- No Knives on Planes
- FAA Review of Evacuation Certification Standards
- Secondary Barriers
- Improved Notification of Insecticide Use
- Smoking Ban for E-Cigarettes
Update on FAA Bill: The Senate bill was adopted 95-3. The House bill has been approved by the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, but has not yet made it to the House floor for vote. At this point the bill could move forward with the Senate bill as foundation and the House committee report as the basis for conference between the two chambers, or the House bill could be presented for a full vote prior to conference between the two chambers. There is pressure to get this done since funding for the FAA ends this summer. However, it is possible Congress could simply adopt an extension and work would begin again in the new Congress next year. While that is not the preferred course, we should note that our work this year to advance our issues will provide a likely path to achieve inclusion of the same issues if we must continue the work into next year. Our advocacy now is to move forward with the bill this year and we took part in a press conference at DCA on May 16th with Senators Klobuchar and Warner to encourage lawmakers to do just that. We will keep up the pressure.
AFA-CWA Government Affairs Director Steve Schembs was commended for doing a phenomenal job in leading our legislative work.
Fight Against Flags of Convenience – #DenyNAI
There was significant focus on our efforts to DenyNAI. All aviation unions and the AFL-CIO are united in opposition of the Norwegian Air International application for a foreign air carrier permit under a flag of convenience model. This has immediately become the top priority of the union to defeat since it threatens our jobs, our industry, our ability to promote safety, health and security or bargain contracts and maintain a discriminatory-free workplace. We continue to encourage AFA members to take action based on the latest news posted at www.afacwa.org/denynai
In 2014, we successfully beat back the DOT exemption for NAI that would have allowed the subsidiary to fly during the review of the air carrier permit application. Since the DOT issued its “show cause” order with tentative approval of the air carrier permit on April 15, 2015 we have worked in coordination with the affiliated unions of the Transportation Trades Department to quickly and vehemently oppose this ruling. Since then we have:
- Achieved a 10 day extension for opposition comments
- Generated tens of thousands of comments to DOT prior to May 16, 2016 deadline
- Produced over 200 comments from Members of Congress to DOT in opposition to the ruling.
- Achieved introduction of HR 5090 to enforce the labor provision of the U.S./E.U. open skies agreement – co-sponsored by Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Ranking Aviation Subcommittee member Rick Larsen (D-WA) and full Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking member Peter DeFazio (D-OR)
- Working with Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) as leaders on legislation in Senate and to achieve a Republican counterpart
- Led Rally at White House on May 12th and with all other aviation unions turned out 1000 at rally to #DenyNAI – Video of Rally Speech >
The DOT reply period ended May 23, 2016 and then there is no deadline for the final ruling. We need to keep up the pressure so that DOT either reverses its position or does not issue a final rule that will set in motion flag of convenience in aviation and ultimately destroy our jobs with it. This is our top priority since everything else flows from it, including our ability to move our careers forward at the bargaining table. AFA Members are encouraged to go to http://www.afacwa.org/denynai to continue to take action.
The National Child Identification Program
The Board heard from Kenny Hansmire of The National Child Identification Program, a community service initiative dedicated to providing parents and guardians with a tool they can use to help protect their children. The ID Kit allows parents to collect specific information by easily recording the physical characteristics and fingerprints of their children on identification cards that are then kept at home by the parent or guardian. If ever needed, this ID Kit will give authorities vital information to assist their efforts to locate a missing child and save lives.
Constituency Group Spotlight
Stan Kiino of AFA SFO Council 11, presented the work of constituency groups PRIDE at Work and the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance. Stan encouraged AFA leaders and members to join these constituency groups to help build our diverse and strong union.
Bridge the Gap Protest Against Delta
The entire Board of Directors participated in a protest march for equality – focusing on Delta in Atlanta. Delta Connection Flight Attendants are not equally recognized for their contribution as frontline employees of Delta’s network. We marched several blocks to protest outside of the World of Coca-Cola, as Coke’s CFO Kathy Waller sits on Delta’s board.
Our message was simply – Inequality Has to Go! The airline industry is raking in billions, at the expense of workers on the frontlines of regional airlines. Delta and the other major U.S. carriers are profiting from wage inequality. It’s the same brand, the same passengers buying tickets, but the compensation for Delta Connection’s first responders is 45 percent less. Delta is profiting from wage inequality.
AFA recently called on Georgia Governor Deal to veto HB 757, an anti-LGBTQ bill, that would have paved the way for wide-ranging discrimination. For four decades, AFA has promoted equality for all flight attendants, and our union successfully beat back numerous discriminatory practices so that anyone with the heart of a flight attendant can become one. We also marched for this core principle of our union.
Bridge the Gap is our campaign to end regional and mainline compensation disparity and lift standards for all Flight Attendants. All Flight Attendants are in jeopardy as long as the disparity exists.
AFA Newsletter Sending System
AFA Communications Director Christopher Lee unveiled a newsletter sending system custom designed for AFA Locals and MECs. The system seeks to provide reliable delivery of communications to AFA members, a more intuitive subscription process and a user-friendly system for leaders. The focus is to provide reliable, effective communication tools that benefit AFA members.
Advanced Leadership Development Training
The Leadership Development Committee, Chaired by AFA Local Council 43 President Jaci-Ann Chung, reported out on progress for Advance Leadership Development training for AFA leaders.
Action on Agenda Items
#1 – Annual Budget: The budget was approved by 10:04 am on Tuesday, May 24th. It provides continued funding for all AFA Locals, MECs and Departments at current levels.
#2 – Electronic Balloting: This agenda item was adopted as proposed to address requirements expected this year from the Department of Labor.
#3 – Direct Membership Election of Master Executive Councils: This agenda item was adopted as amended. The issue was discussed thoroughly in the agenda committee. The committee approached the issue with an effort to determine what it would take to make MEC officer direct membership election work, and they identified over 20 issues that need to be thoroughly reviewed and addressed in order to produce a proposal that would work with all provisions of the constitution and could be seriously considered by all of the members of AFA. Therefore, the agenda item was referred to the Strategic Planning Committee to conduct a review of the questions and craft an agenda item for the 2017 Board of Directors. It was recognized by the entire Board of Directors that the issues needs a full discussion among members this year to ensure democracy is exercised as we consider changing the structure of AFA, recognizing that AFA has direct membership election of the Local Council Presidents who are the decision-makers of the union. The 2013 Board report on this issue will be published and made available to members along with encouragement to review and thoroughly discuss the agenda item prior to next year’s meeting.
#4 – Nomination and Election Process: This agenda item was not adopted but the committee recommended that the issue be taken up by the Strategic Planning Committee this year for possible introduction at a later time.
#5 – BOD Meeting – Agenda: This agenda item was adopted.
#6 – Continuing Committees: This agenda item was adopted as amended.
#7 – Dues Obligation and Elimination of Initiation Fee: This agenda item was adopted as amended. The Board of Directors changed the dues obligation to begin after four full calendar months on the line and eliminated the initiation fee – essentially keeping the payments equal to the initiation fee but allowing for full inclusion in our democracy sooner. The Board recognized that our newest members receive full representation from the first day of service even though due process if not available in the event of termination during probation. The Board also confirmed that if a member is terminated before the end of probation, any dues money paid will be refunded to the terminated Flight Attendant. This takes the control of when members can participate out of the hands of management and strengthens our position at the bargaining table because management must recognize these members as participants in any strike vote or ratification vote.
#8 – Prepayment of Annual Dues: Consistent with the 2015 Board, this agenda item was not adopted.
#9 – Authority to Establish Local Council: this agenda item was adopted with a substitute motion to refer the issue to the Strategic Planning Committee.
#10 – Flight Pay Loss Accountability: This agenda item was adopted as amended to clarify the different lost time procedures at each airline and will be implemented as soon as the program for accounting is finalized in the next two months.
#11 – Negotiations Policy, Tips from Onboard Sales: This agenda item was adopted as proposed.
#12 – Negotiations Policy, Preamble & First Contracts: This agenda item was adopted as proposed.
#13 – Never Forget Honor Guard: This agenda item was adopted as amended to further clarify the Honor Guard.
#14 – Study by Strategic Planning Committee: This agenda item was adopted as proposed.
#15 – Agency Fee Requirement for Members of Management: This late agenda item refers the issue to a study for feasibility. It was adopted as proposed.
The AFA Board of Directors unanimously adopted three resolutions this year:
- The BOD resolved to honor Cami Barletta, of AFA EWR Council 6, stating that “in her memory we rededicate ourselves to care for each other as we would care for ourselves and always honor our Flight Attendant family.”
- The BOD called on Doug Parker to restore the retiree and buddy pass travel benefits that have been lost by the Flight Attendants serving within the American Eagle brand.
- The BOD recognized the whistleblowers of Council 26 for their unwavering dedication to safety and security of the passengers in our care.
Recognition and Awards
We honored AFA staff for their dedication to Flight Attendants. Mark Littleton, Senior Staff Negotiator; Josie Bautista, Senior Staff Attorney; and Scott Goodman, Staff Attorney, were honored for their years of service to Flight Attendants across the union. We thank them for their service to our union and wish them well in future endeavors.
The Edith Lauterbach Merit Award, the highest honor in our Union, was awarded to Robert Barrow of Envoy Air. Robert is a worthy recipient of this year’s award due to his work as an Info Rep Co-Chair, CHAOS™ Command Chair, Council 52 Grievance Committee, Local 52 President, and American Eagle MEC President. His body of work and dedication to our union and its members is exemplary. He is an outstanding Union worker and activist who steps up every time to advocate for AFA members and engage in efforts to build solidarity among all workers.
The Peggy Price Award was established 16 years ago to recognize the value of our EAP committees’ work and to highlight the outstanding efforts of one local EAP committee. The EAP Committee at United Los Angeles Council 60 at United in Los Angeles won the award this year due to their quality one on one interactions with Flight Attendants. Congratulations to Local Co-Chairs Ernie Cornejo and Yulonda Harriston along with EAP representatives Dean Jacques, Krista Beyer and Jillian Brock.
Members who attended the meeting on their own time were recognized and thanked for their participation in the AFA Board meeting.
JFK Council 5 transitions to EWR Council 6
Prior to the start of the Board meeting, the AFA-CWA Executive Board acted to rename United’s JFK Council 5 to EWR Council 6. This change was implemented in response to management’s recent decision to transition domicile operations to EWR from JFK, following the closure of the JFK station. Consistent with prior action of the Board of Directors, which retired Council 6 EWR until operations were re-established at EWR, the transition from JFK Council 5 to EWR Council 6 is in order. This is simply a name change and does not alter the membership of the Council.
Seniority Merger Integration Update Including Initial Training Credit
May 27, 2016
Earlier this week the Seniority Merger Integration Committee reported to the Joint Master Executive Council, including the locally elected presidents of councils representing all 24,000 Flight Attendants.
The Seniority Merger Integration Committee (SMIC) consists of representatives from each of our pre-merger airlines. The AFA-CWA Constitution and Bylaws (C&B), which is also reinforced by U.S. law, provides clear instruction on the committee role and authority in merging the three seniority lists to be implemented at the point of a ratified, single Flight Attendant contract at United Airlines.
The principle of ‘date-of-hire’ is codified in the constitution to integrate the list according to the schedule competitive bidding seniority that someone brought to the merger. This is protected for the integration of the lists.
The only two (2) items constitutionally required for resolution by the committee include:
- applying credit for initial training while maintaining relative seniority on each respective list, and
- methodology for integration of same day seniority dates.
To accomplish these two tasks, several key constitutional considerations were followed. Most important was to maintain relative positions on each pre-merger seniority list, thus preventing anyone from “leapfrogging” over another on their respective list. The C&B, as well as federal law, also require that SMIC respect all previous court and arbitration decisions and contractual applications. Given these parameters, SMIC was charged with verification of existing seniority lists, and subsequent merger of the three lists.
Determination of Training Adjustment
The pre-merger UAL Flight Attendant seniority is based upon the Date of Hire (DOH) principle, whereby competitive bidding seniority is determined by the first day of Flight Attendant initial training. At pre-merger CAL and CMI, competitive bidding seniority is based upon a date near the end of training. Given this difference in training policies, AFA-CWA C&B Section X.C.3.c requires an adjustment related to seniority accrual for initial training days so that each Flight Attendant on the merged seniority list receives credit for initial training days.
The SMIC decided unanimously to use the pre-merger UAL seniority list as the foundation document, and the other two lists were reconciled by providing a numerical adjustment for training days.
For the pre-merger UAL group, all “training start dates” were available as this is how competitive bidding seniority is determined. At pre-merger CAL and CMI, Flight Attendants were given competitive bidding seniority based upon a point in time near the end of training, such as graduation or first day on the line. Because of this, Company data was not kept consistently for pre-merger CAL and CMI Flight Attendant training start dates, especially prior to 1997.
Since the start date of training was not available for all Flight Attendants, the work of the SMIC was challenging. Through historical research and verified documentation recovered from individuals, the SMIC was able to determine an average number of days necessary to adjust for initial training.
It was necessary to apply an average in order to maintain the same order on each respective list – no leapfrogging. For Flight Attendants with current bidding seniority dates in the seniority range between 1/1/1956 and 5/22/1997, a calculated average of 49 days will be the training adjustment.
There was more complete data available during the years from 5/23/1997 to present day. In each case, the number of days is the number of training days that applied during the applicable period:
- From 5/23/1997 until 12/31/2004, the training adjustment is 37 days.
- From 1/1/2005 until 12/31/2013, the training adjustment is 31 days.
- From 1/1/14 until 12/31/2014 the training adjustment is 37 days.
- From 1/1/2015 until 2/1/2015 the training adjustment is 32 days.
- From 2/2/2015 until present, competitive bidding seniority will be the first date of initial training, consistent with all pre-merger groups.
Because of their shared and mutual history and training, adjustments for CMI will mirror the CAL seniority adjustment. All decisions related to these training adjustments were based upon using all available resources, supported by the data collected, and applied in strict compliance with the Constitution.
Again, the SMIC unanimously agreed to the above training adjustments.
Integration of same-day seniority dates
After the initial training adjustment is applied, there must also be a methodology for integrating the three lists when two or more lists contain Flight Attendants with the exact same seniority date.
Whenever this happens, the method to “break the tie,” is to use the last three digits of the File/U-Number. The individual with the lower number is determined to be senior. For example, if the last three digits of two individuals are 111 and 222, then the person with 111 is deemed to be senior.
If there are multiple ties on same day, e.g., a class from one pre-merger group and a class from another pre-merger group, then the tie is broken for the most senior person in each group. Next, the tie between the second most senior person in each group is resolved, and so on.
In the event two people with the same day seniority also have the same last three digits in their U-Number (e.g., two people with 111), a secondary tie-breaker was established. The birthday is the next tie-breaker. The longer living is deemed to be senior.
This process ensured that the relative order on any given list was preserved and all ties were reviewed and resolved.
The SMIC has completed the seniority verification for the vast majority of all Flight Attendants on the three seniority lists. One task remaining is to verify the seniority of the 2,506 flight Attendants hired since 1/1/2015. Seniority Verification Letters were sent to these individuals on May 1, 2016.
These Flight Attendants have until June 15, to challenge the data that is on record. In late June, the SMIC will meet to review and assess challenges, and will promptly provide written responses. These additional seniority dates will be certified before the end of July, 2016.
Thereafter, the three complete lists will be ready to merge into a single list.
Once merged, SMIC will be in position to provide a comprehensive report to identify all details pertaining to the process.
U.S. Law Requires Enforcement of AFA Seniority Integration Policy
AFA’s seniority policy is also reinforced by US law. After the TWA Flight Attendants were stapled to the bottom of the seniority list at American, our union advocated for a change to the law that would provide a “fair and equitable” seniority integration for all airline workers affected by a merger. Again, fair and equitable is a process, but it does not ensure a “fair” outcome.
If seniority is left up to an arbitrator, all arguments and positions made by the parties involved will eventually be decided by someone who has no claim or stake in the end result. That is why we ensured that the law would also protect our union’s seniority integration policy. The McCaskill-Bond law states:
“if the same collective bargaining agent represents the combining crafts or classes at each of the covered air carriers, that collective bargaining agent’s internal policies regarding integration, if any, will not be affected by and will supersede the requirements of this section;”
This law affirms that our AFA seniority integration policy is the process that must be used when AFA is the representative of Flight Attendants at the merged airline.
AFA Seniority Integration Policy Used in Each Mega-Merger
In both the Delta and American mergers, AFA’s merger policy set the standard for Flight Attendant seniority integration. At Delta, management knew that Flight Attendants would have one more big reason to vote for a union unless management provided the same seniority security that AFA’s policy would provide. The Northwest and Delta lists were integrated according to AFA’s seniority integration principle.
AFA had the cleanest seniority list in the industry at US Airways, where many mergers took place based on AFA’s seniority integration principle. Further, our union had gained seniority protections under the law. In the American merger, APFA agreed to a seniority integration that mirrors AFA’s constitutional merger policy, protecting both pre-merger US Airways and American Flight Attendants.
Our merger policy was put in place nearly 25 years ago following mergers where the issue of seniority did nothing more than create division. This division plays out at a time when it is especially critical for Flight Attendants to stand together in unity. In mergers, our focus needs to be on making our seniority count with the best job security, pay, benefits, work rules and quality of life at the merged airline. Our policy provides a defined and transparent procedure for seniority integration.
The fate of our seniority should never hinge on a corporate decision that is outside of our control. With a detailed process in black and white we can focus our attention on our unity and work towards a single contract that reflects our valuable contributions to the airline.
AFA Joint Master Executive Councils representing United Airlines Flight Attendants
Seniority Integration Update (April 26, 2016)
Download the mailer (June 23, 2015): An Update from the Seniority Merger Integration Committee
Thanks for staying informed
Andrew Jerome Cameron Craig Graham