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January 20, 2021 - Tomorrow, as a result of action taken by the United Master Executive Council, our Union will launch a survey, asking for input on the path forward we should collectively pursue in the event United management determines an additional reduction in force is necessary beyond March 31, 2020. 

By way of background, last Summer the United MEC entered into a limited Letter of Agreement with the company to pursue an Involuntary Furlough Mitigation Partnership Program (IVFMP) designed specifically to reduce the number of us subject to involuntary furlough.  The agreement came very late in the process and a decision was required of your elected leadership. Based on the timing of when the agreement was reached, there was insufficient time to have a discussion with our Members. 

Following the announcement of the terms of the Letter of Agreement, there was a great deal of feedback from the Membership expressing disappointment in not having had the opportunity to vote on the terms of the IVFMP Letter of Agreement.

While there will always be circumstances where the leadership of our Union will be required to act in the interest of the Membership, we strive to collect Member feedback through Local Council Meetings and discussions with your Local Council leadership.

Our Contract has a clearly defined path in the event of a furlough.  Voluntary furlough must first be offered to those above the “line,” (seniority date of those subject to involuntary furlough) as determined by the management’s reduction in force numbers.  Absent a sufficient number of voluntary furlough participants, furlough mitigation partnerships must be offered to those no longer subject to involuntary furlough as a result of the movement of the line due to the award of voluntary furlough.

While not a certainty, there is a likelihood the company will announce a need for a reduction in force effective with the April schedule.  It is our conviction that the best path forward is the pursuit of a Payroll Support Program from Congress.  This outcome keeps everyone on the payroll, connected to healthcare benefits and on the job.  In the event that support is absent or uncertain, it would be prudent to begin discussion early in the process this time around about if an IVFMP is the best option and time for your leadership to work with the company for arrangements that reflect and protect our needs.

For your leadership to be informed, we need you to be engaged in the process, and ask for your feedback.  The survey will be open for 9 days, which we realize is a very condensed, but necessary period of time. The reality is that if United needs to move forward with a furlough, that clock starts ticking in less than two weeks driven by the company’s obligation to issue WARN notices.  At that point our Contract outlines the first step in the process for Voluntary Furlough which is the declaration of involuntary furlough. 

To give the Union time to gather your feedback, determine a course of action and share all available options ahead of the close of the Voluntary Furlough is critical.  Your leadership is committed to making sure you know every available option to make the right decision ahead of that deadline.

It’s important to remember, that while we ask each of you to participate in the survey, this is not your only means of providing feedback.  We encourage you to talk with your Local Council leadership, attend Local meetings and discuss with them your support, ask questions or to identify any concerns.

The instructions needed to complete the online survey will be mailed to each member’s home.  The text of the survey instructions include the following:  

”As we strive to continue to work together to ensure the priorities of the Membership are considered during this particularly difficult period in our history, we seek your view and direction as to how we should proceed if faced with a circumstance where it is determined that an additional reduction in force is necessary.

Before implementing an involuntary furlough, after awarding voluntary furlough in seniority order, a requirement for Furlough Mitigation Partnerships (FMP) to be awarded was negotiated as a mandatory part of the process in Section 16.A.2.c.  In the event both of these voluntary programs do not provide the company with the reduction in personnel they have determined to be necessary, involuntary furlough will result.

“The answer to the question before you is intended to assist your Union leadership in determining the next steps.  It is critical that we continue our two-way communications as part of this comprehensive effort.  In order to accomplish this, your response to the question presented is of equal importance.”

You will be asked:

“In the event United Airlines insists on another reduction in force for Flight Attendants and there is no additional federal relief to stop it, how should the Union respond?

  • The Union should strictly follow the provisions of Section 18 of the Flight Attendant Agreement.
  • The Union should negotiate with United management to achieve an involuntary furlough mitigation program (IVFMP) in addition to what is provided for in Section 18 of the Flight Attendant Agreement.”

In addition, you will have the ability to add comments.

The survey will open: Thursday, January 21, 2021 at 0800 Central Time

The survey will close: Saturday, January 30, 2021 at 1200 (noon) Central Time

Once you have received your credentials by mail, you may respond to the survey on-line using any browser by using the following link on our website.

The mailed survey instructions will contain a unique password which has been assigned to you to provide access to the online survey.  The password may only be used one time.  Strictly for demographic information, you will also be asked to provide information about your base and seniority.  At the end of the survey, you need to select the “submit” button for your response to be counted.

Additionally, because we will be investing significant resources in collecting this information, we will also seek e-mail information from you so that we can communicate directly with you.  Keep in mind, this information is being collected separately from the survey and will not be connected with your responses.

The survey instructions will be mailed to your address of record.  Given the very strict timeframe against which we seek to execute this survey, exceptions cannot be made to re-mail survey instructions to a new or different address.  If you will not be home to receive it, please arrange for a family member, roommate, neighbor or friend to get your mail and provide you with your unique code to facilitate your participation.  If your individual circumstances require it, we encourage you to have a plan in place to get the information to you during this brief survey window.

We are asking for your feedback, to help guide us in the discussion about whether or not our Union should pursue a similar IVFMP agreement in the months ahead.  The results of the survey will be used to determine this direction.

We have activated a dedicated area on the United AFA Website that will contain all of this information and provide a venue for us to facilitate communicating any updates that may become necessary during the process.  Please continue to monitor www.unitedafa.org or sign up for E-lines to receive up to the minute information.

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