Home > 2020 COVID-19 Recovery

COVID-19 Recovery

July 8, 2020,

In response to the continuing economic crisis United Airlines is facing, the company has stated they need to reduce the Flight Attendant workforce by 15,100 Flight Attendants (active and inactive), effective October 1, 2020.

While it has been clear for quite some time that there will be a need to temporarily reduce our workforce, it is equally clear that the reduction the company has announced is an enormous overreach. In comparison to our domestic competitors, what United has identified is out of proportion with the industry and with our current economic situation.

United MEC President, Ken Diaz, addressed our strong belief that this number is far more than is necessary and our commitment to significantly reduce the impact to our Flight Attendant community.

Our Contractual language will be followed. If there are an insufficient number of volunteers for voluntary furlough, Flight Attendants junior to System Seniority 10,209 in the class of 11/09/1996 as indicated on the June 23, 2020 System Seniority List could be placed on involuntary furlough status.

It should be noted, Flight Attendants who have or will participate in the VSP2 will appear on the June 23, 2020 System Seniority list. These individuals will contribute toward the reduction in force number the result of which will reduce the 15,100 number.

Voluntary Furlough Bidding Timeline:

Bidding Opens July 8, 2020 at 3:00 PM CT
Bidding Closes August 10, 2020 at 8:00AM CT
Awards August 11, 2020 by 5:00PM CT

Furlough Mitigation Partnership Bidding Timeline:

Bidding Opens July 8, 2020 at 3:00 PM CT
Bidding Closes August 24, 2020 at 8:00 AM CT
Awards August 24, 2020

AFA continues to advocate for ways to avoid an involuntary furlough and minimize the impact on Flight Attendants. We are encouraging the company to continue to explore cost-neutral options.

Flight Attendants will be able to request voluntary furlough in increments of 8 or 13 months. It is anticipated that each of these options will have some sort of allocation associated with it. Flight Attendants awarded voluntary furloughs will:

  • Accrue & retain seniority for the entire period of voluntary furlough
  • Maintain medical, dental and vision coverage at active rates
  • Be eligible for online pass benefits as if an active Flight Attendant (except CJA)

A factor that further complicates this reduction in force announcement is the previously announced and simultaneous base closures at FRA, HKG and NRT. While these will be addressed in subsequent communications as we gain additional information, the furlough announcement may impact some of the required transfer activity for those impacted.

Voluntary Furlough

Prior to any involuntary job loss, our Contract protects us by requiring that eligible Flight Attendants be offered an opportunity to take part in a voluntary furlough (Section 18.A.).

Those Flight Attendants who participate in the voluntary furlough:

  • Will continue to accrue and retain seniority
  • Be eligible for the same on-line pass travel benefits (except CJA)
  • Receive Medical and Dental insurance on the same basis as an active Flight Attendant
  • Will not be entitled to furlough pay, but will be eligible to file for unemployment, under the guidelines for your individual state (the same as with COLA)

Additionally, Flight Attendants will be returned to the same base from which voluntary furloughed, be allowed to return prior to expiration, by request, for personal reasons due to hardship, with approval of the company. If it becomes necessary to extend the specified duration, or a further reduction is necessary, all voluntary furloughs must be rebid.

If a recall is necessary prior to the termination of the specified duration of the voluntary furlough, recall will first be offered to those on involuntary furlough status in seniority order.

If your circumstances allow, we strongly encourage you to take advantage of the time off a voluntary furlough will provide and help save the job of a fellow flying partner.

Furlough-Mitigation Partnership

If an insufficient number of voluntary furloughs are awarded, the company will work with the union in mitigation partnerships (Section 16.A.2.c.).

  • Prior to implementing any involuntary furlough, the company shall offer furlough-mitigation partnerships sufficient to eliminate the need to furlough.
  • A furlough-mitigation partnership covers a period of 13 or more bid months.

Involuntary Furlough

Following voluntary furlough and furlough-mitigation partnerships, the Union will discuss shorter-term COLAs, awarding all voluntary furlough bids, including those who may be subject to involuntary furlough, and any other Contractually compliant options before a determination of if, and how many, Flight Attendants will be involuntarily furloughed.

While your Union will do everything possible to avoid an involuntary furlough, should it become necessary, Section 18.B. of our Contract provides that:

  • Any reduction in Flight Attendants who have completed probation shall be in inverse order of system classification seniority.
  • A furloughed Flight Attendant (involuntary) shall be re-employed in order of system classification seniority at the time of the furlough.
  • Recall to the base from which furloughed or will take precedence over any bids to that base which may be on file.
    • If vacancies do not exist, Section 18.B.3. will apply.

As stated earlier, if a recall is necessary prior to the termination of the specified duration of the voluntary furlough, recall will first be offered to those involuntarily furloughed, in system seniority order.

Bidding for voluntary furlough will open July 08, 2020 at 3:00PM CT and close August 10, 2020 at 0800 CT.  Awards will be  posted later in week pending action of the senate with regard to the Payroll Support Program.

We have compiled a list of Questions and Answers regarding all aspects of this process and will update it as new questions are received.

If you have questions that have not been addressed in this document, please e-mail COVID-19recovery@unitedafa.org. We will obtain the answers and update the Q & A.

We want you to know that we are advocating minimizing and hopefully eliminating the potential for any Flight Attendant to be involuntarily furloughed. This includes awarding all voluntary furlough bids, even for those below the seniority line.

We realize this announcement has caused a great deal of uncertainty and concern. Take a breath and give yourself some time to adjust to this new information; it’s understandably overwhelming. Begin considering your options, especially if the flexibility and time off afforded by a voluntary furlough might be something you may consider. We will be moving forward, but you don’t need to make a decision today. Discuss with your family, your financial advisors and colleagues what may fit your needs. Ask questions, get information and make a decision based on a thoughtful review and not out of fear. We will get through this, together.

Bidding Timeline

Voluntary Furlough
Bid Opens
July 08, 2020
at 3:00 PM CT
Bids Closed

Completion Delayed - See Special E-lines

Duration Dates Max Participation
 8 months October 1, 2020 – June 1, 2021 1,200 subj to change
13 months October 1, 2020 – October 29, 2021 unlimited
Furlough Mitigation Partnerships – 13 month duration
Bid Opens
July 8, 2020
at 3:00 PM CT
Bid Closes
August 24, 2020 at 8:00 AM CT
Awards Posted by close of business:
August 24, 2020
Involuntary Furlough (if necessary)
List Published
August 24, 2020
Last day of work
September 30, 2020
Must complete check-out process*

*If an involuntary furlough is necessary, the company will provide a check-list of items (ie returning of company badge and property, etc) that must be completed to be eligible for a recall to work.

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