AFA Council 27 News

INSIDE THIS ISSUE - July 24, 2016

• Norma Rae Matthews
• What is my merged seniority number?
• Voting closes August 12th, have you received your voting instructions


"Norma Rae's Opinion - The Long Story"

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly...

An essay by Cameron Matthews

Master Executive Council (MEC) Reserve Committee, Vice Chair

Local Executive Council (LEC) Secretary

Boston, Council 27


Several of my Flyin’ Partners have been patiently waiting for my personal insight on the industry leading United Airlines Flight Attendant Tentative Agreement (TA).  This is in no way intended to influence anyone's vote, but hopefully my views will help some to better understand how this agreement will affect us in the future. I've read the Comprehensive Summary and its comparison to our competitors, Delta Airlines (DL) and American Airlines (AA).  I've attended a Roadshow and the Negotiations Support Assistance training.  Here's what I believe will influence my vote.

The Good:

• Substantial initial wage increases including pay incentives, allowing an individual to increase their earnings, including Reserve Flight Attendants.

• Industry leading scheduling protections and guarantees.  Re-assignment protections with additional pay incentives.

• Maintained our (pre-merger United) paid Holidays, paid Vacation, and improvements on our paid sick leave and occupational sick leave. 

The Bad:

• Increases in our payroll deducted healthcare premiums, affecting mainly those who take advantage of our "free" HMO plans.  These plans will transition into a more traditional 80/20 plan, similar to our PPO plan.

• Significant changes to our Legal Rest provisions, allowing duty days of 15 to 16 hours in our domestic operation, depending on the trip, followed by a minimum rest of 10 hours (free from duty), with a minimum of 8 hours at the place of lodging.

The Ugly:

• Straight Reserve System. This will adversely affect our smaller pre-merger United bases (Boston, Las Vegas) and could effect our hub stations, if we ever enter another "no hiring" period, causing seniority stagnation. This system can also seriously decrease an individual's annual earnings.


I can definitely speak for the majority.  We all had our own ideas of what we wanted to see in this agreement. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to please everyone. We each have our own priorities and personal financial goals.

Our Joint Negotiations Committee (JNC) had the almost impossible task of combining three distinctively different Flight Attendant work groups, Continental Airlines (CAL), Continental Micronesia (CMI), and United Airlines (UAL).  Each has their own working culture that has evolved over decades of flying in this industry.  UAL is 90 years old and CAL is almost 80 years old.  Ironically, these merged carriers were founded by the same man, Walter T. Varney, UAL – Varney Air Lines (1926) and CAL – Varney Speed Lines (1934).

Different parts of this agreement are improvements to some of our current Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA), while other parts seem to be concessions.  It’s really a matter of perspective.  What one groups sees as an improvement (i.e. CAL, Guaranteed Duty and Trips Rigs), another groups sees as a concession (i.e. UAL duty day increases).

The harsh reality is that we're not just fighting management for improvements.  We're fighting an entire industry.  The industry is changing, and we have very little choice, but to accept the changes and move forward. It's frustrating. You feel almost powerless.

What will I get, if we ratify this agreement?

Industry leading wage increases.  They will set a new standard for our competitors.  The over thirty percent increases are unprecedented at any job.  If you show your non-airline friends and family our new wage increases, they would say, "You're crazy for not taking this offer."  Normal people don't get wage increases like this. You’ll most likely insight an argument that you’ll NEVER win.

Some of the work rules are the same as those in our current CBA's (Duty Rigs), while others are significant improvements (Re-assignments).  Some changes seem to be concessionary, but when compared to DL and AA, they are actually better than what our competitors have currently. As previously mentioned, this agreement is industry leading and will likely reset the competitive bar, so to speak.

What will I lose if this agreement isn’t ratified?

Other than those I have already mentioned, we would enter a time of uncertainty.  There are no guarantees a new (or different) agreement will net any additional improvements, above and beyond this TA. The timeframe for negotiating another agreement isn’t defined. This TA took over three years to create.  Having to wait, possibly up to or more than a year, would keep me from earning close to $20K.  That’s a lot of cash….. PERIOD ……. Not to mention, the loss of my employer's 401K contributions, based on my higher earnings.  There’s a lot to consider.

Would a new agreement make up for my potential losses?

Would a new agreement improve any of the parts that I don’t like (i.e. Straight Reserve, Duty Day Lengths, Healthcare Costs)?

Would a new agreement possibly be WORSE than this one, as our global economy is affected by the recent BREXIT vote or the numerous terrorist attacks happening around the world?

My Reality check……

I carefully reviewed the industry comparisons of our competitors, AA and DL.  The improvements to this agreement that I’d like to see most likely will NOT be considered, since this agreement is (marginally) better than those at AA and DL. Again, we’re not just fighting a stubborn management team.  Management's task is to remain cost competitive, and any changes to our business model would leave us at a cost disadvantage. That’s a hard pill to swallow, and I swallow multiple pills daily with ease.

The Elephant in the room.       ………..     Straight Reserve...........

This is the topic that has received the most attention since the Tentative Agreement announcement.  To most Flight Attendants, this is an archaic scheduling system.  It adversely affects those with the least seniority.  Unfortunately, seniority is directly relative to the individual bases.  Our smaller bases (Boston and Las Vegas) have seen little or no transfer activity (inbound) during the past 10 years, creating seniority stagnation.  Our most “junior” Flight Attendants have almost 10 years of service.  Our larger hub stations have recently received hundreds of new hires. 

The best Reserve Flight Attendant System is the system that DOESN’T affect you.  No one will ever understand the life of a Reserve Flight Attendant until you are a Reserve Flight Attendant.  It’s a horrible and thankless lifestyle.  In many cases, these Flight Attendants are treated as a subordinate group of the workforce.

There are only two basic types of Reserve Flight Attendant systems in our industry: Straight Reserve and Shared Reserve.  There are multiple variations of Shared Reserve.  Currently, UAL uses an A/B rotation (Shared Reserve) system, while CAL and CMI both have a Straight Reserve System.

Before the JNC started to negotiate the Reserve section of this TA, the members of each division (CAL, CMI, and UAL) were either surveyed or asked to submit their ideas regarding Reserve.  The UAL group was just starting to feel the full affects of our A/B Rotation system, which actually affects TWICE as many Flight Attendants, than those who would be on a Straight Reserve system. This is something one must consider, as we ponder the reasons people may be considering, when casting their vote. 

The results were overwhelmingly in favor of a Straight Reserve system.  Subject Matter Experts (SME) were consulted from each division, as they researched the Reserve systems of several of our industry counterparts.  Some Shared Reserve systems require a substantial change in our current schedule bidding and award process (Preferential Bidding Systems) which has historically been rejected by all three work groups.

The SME's fully supported and advocated for some type of Shared Reserve system. However, the JNC couldn’t ignore the FACT that the majority of the (surveyed and participating) membership wanted a Straight Reserve system. 

Let’s also keep in mind, those surveyed and those who participated were a small group of our total population.  Sometimes, we are our own worst enemies.  A small group effectively decided for the masses.  It’s definitely congruent with our past practices, when I comes to any elections.

During our Boston roadshow, this was the topic of greatest contention. A Straight Reserve system will directly affect those with AT LEAST seventeen years of service, based on the current seniority list, if no changes are made to its Flight Attendant population. The demographic of this base could change in the future, if transfer or new hire activity resumes in the Boston base. There are no guarantees.

During the roadshow, the JNC made it VERY clear that this section of the TA would NOT change should the membership vote not to ratify it. Another TA would also include a Straight Reserve system, based solely on their survey results and the submissions from the other Flight Attendant groups.

My Summation

I have changed my mind several times regarding this Tentative Agreement.  I was initially a definite “No” vote, solely based on the Straight Reserve section.  Having read through the entire agreement (at nauseum) and in great detail, I have reluctantly come to my decision.

I can’t deny the potential wage increases are substantial.  I’ve been working under significant wage concessions since 2005, which I know I will NEVER get back.  I’m also getting’ older and seeing my retirement future approaching quickly. 

I also must consider our place in the global economy.  Things are changing rapidly, and a ratified agreement would ensure a better financial future.  Without a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in place, I could suffer further personal financial losses.

I asked myself these questions.

Does our current (fractured) membership have the solidarity and unity needed to continue the fight for additional improvements?

AGAIN, it’s not a fight with just our management.

Are we collectively strong enough to rally against an industry that is trying very hard to unilaterally change our careers?

This profession started as a “temporary” job for single women.  Our Union has fought for decades to make it an all inclusive, highly respected, and gratifying career. Today, this agreement takes us to the next level.

Our competitors are watching and we are positioned to make a difference.

If this agreement doesn’t pass, will we collectively have the strength to fight “the establishment” to further improve our chosen career?

I don’t know the answer.

We all have our own individual agendas. Are we willing and able to place our personal goals aside to fight together for more improvements?

It takes a community to affect change.  Are we ready to move forward with this agreement or are we willing to risk our financial futures?

I have to vote based on the entire agreement.  I have to fully analyze its strengths and weaknesses.  I have to consider the options and their effects on my future.

My decision is only mine, and no one else’s.  It’s not meant to influence anyone in any way.  I hope everyone introspectively looks at how they will vote.  This does affect your future and the future of our profession.

I voted “Yes.” “Norma Rae” has spoken……

Merged Seniority List


United Merged Flight Attendant Seniority List:

Seniority Integration is not part of contract negotiations. It is a separate process, required by law to be completed in accordance with the AFA-CWA Constitution and Bylaws. The merged seniority list is only provided to the company for implementation at the point of a ratified Joint Collective Bargaining Agreement (JCBA). 

In the interest of transparency and in response to a significant number of requests from United Flight Attendants, AFA-CWA has published the Merged Seniority List ("List") compiled by the Seniority Merger Integration Committee ("SMIC"). The methodology for compiling the List is final, in accordance with the Constitution and federal law. 

PLEASE NOTE: Earlier Friday afternoon we were still testing this page when the test link was leaked to Facebook. The list is a huge amount of data and will require a long load time on a phone. Also there was so much traffic that it caused the site to crash. It is back up now, but please expect that it could run slowly when thousands of Flight Attendants are working in it at the same time.

Login through the following link to access the seniority list:

Voting closes August 12th

  If you have not received your voting instructions and activation code, please clink on the link below.  Every vote matters, every single vote!!!


Have a great week Boston!!

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