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E-Lines: December 05, 2017

Date: December 5, 2017

Absence Certificate Requirement for Holiday Sick Call Raises Questions

A recent article in E-lines dated December 1st addressing the company’s announcement that Absence Certificates will be required for sick calls and for instances where sick leave is used to care for a spouse or minor child (Section 13.D.7.) that begin during the period starting December 20, 2017 – January 4, 2018, has raised a number of questions.

Section 13.C.4. of the JCBA provides for this procedure provided management supplies the appropriate advance notice to the Union and Flight Attendants.   In anticipation of the upcoming Christmas holiday, management advised the Union and Flight Attendants on November 29, 2017 that Absence Certificates will be required for everyone using sick leave during the December 20, 2017 – January 4, 2018 period with one exception.  Flight Attendants who have had no absences during the prior twelve (12) calendar months are not subject to the Absence Certificate requirement that applies during the holiday period.

This Contract provision was historically part of the pre-merger CAL & CMI Agreements and, as a result of the work of our Negotiating Committee, was changed during bargaining for our JCBA deleting the Thanksgiving holiday from inclusion in this requirement. Absence Certificates are documents that are provided exclusively to United Medical because they provide medical information to which supervisors are not entitled to either see or review. 

Additional questions have been asked regarding the interplay of this provision and Federal law for those individuals with approved Family Medical Leave.  Specifically, it has been suggested that those with approved FMLA cannot be required to provide an Absence Certificate.  In fact, those with approved FMLA can be (and are) required to provide this documentation to United Medical and there is nothing improper or unlawful about the requirement to do so.

Finally, there is a significant difference between the Absence Certificate (which is required under this provision of the contract) and a physician’s note. The physician’s note is an optional document that is used to reduce the point assessment associated with the use of sick leave by ½ point as outlined in the Dispute Resolution, Attendance and Performance Management Agreement at the Flight Attendant’s option.

If you have additional specific questions about this provision of our JCBA or the associated documents – Absence Certificate, physician’s note or the Dispute Resolution, Attendance and Performance Management Agreement, we strongly encourage you to contact your Local Council for assistance in obtaining answers to your questions.

Flight Attendant Instant Vacation Trades with Open Time Now Available

Instant vacation trades opened on December 5, 2017 at 8:00 AM Local Domicile Time (LDT), and will remain open throughout the balance of the 2018 schedule year. If you wish to trade for an open vacation period you will need to submit a vacation trade with open time request. The latest the trade request must be submitted is thirty (30) days before the earliest calendar month involved in the trade.

We are receiving some questions in the Local Councils and at the MEC office asking if processed trades that have been rejected remain on file for consideration later.  The answer to this question is no.  Vacation trades with open time are “instant” trades.  Once entered, they are either accepted or rejected.  Once processed, these trade requests do not remain on file for further consideration.  If you wish for any request to be considered at a later time, you must re-enter the trade.

Flight Attendants wishing to trade with open time not currently available should continue to check the allocation matrix because the following circumstances can affect available vacation days.

  • Any vacation days awarded, that are vacated later (e.g. separation from company, retirement, etc.)  will be added to the allocations.
  • If a Flight Attendant trades down to fewer vacation days with another Flight Attendant or for open vacation days, any surplus of unused days will be added to the allocations for use by another Flight Attendant.

Additional information concerning the Vacation Instant Trade with Open Time option, including a step-by-step guide on how to submit a trade on CCS is available in the 2018 Vacation Modification Guide.

pmUA Reserve Holiday Christmas Wish List Now Open!

Beginning today, December 5, 2017, pmUA Reserve Flight Attendants may submit a request for up to four holiday layover stations via our AFA website.  When submitting your request, you will be asked for your Reserve LOF number, as well as your Reserve status (CLLR or RSV) as reflected in Unimatic for the December schedule month.

We encourage you to put an initial request on file early and modify your request should your circumstances change later in the month. The last request on file will be the request that will be considered at the time of assignment.  The submission page on our website outlines the dates by which your request must be on file in order to be considered. 

Additional information was communicated on December 1, 2017 edition of E-Lines and is available on our website.

Department of Transportation Changes to DOT Testing Rule   

 The Department of Transportation (DOT) is making changes to the DOT Testing rule which will take effect January 1, 2018.  Below is a summary of some important changes and how they will affect you.

Four semi-synthetic opioids have been added for DOT testing- hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone.

What does this mean for Flight Attendants? Prescription pain medications which were previously undetectable under DOT testing will now be detectable starting January 1, 2018.   Some common names for these semi-synthetic opioids include OxyContin®, Percodan®, Percocet®, Vicodin®, Lortab®, Norco®, Dilaudid®, Exalgo®.  

Why Should I Be Concerned? You need to make sure you have a valid prescription for the pain killer so your test is verified as negative. Using another person’s medication or using a medication that was prescribed to you for another or past condition could result in a test positive.  A Medical Review Officer (MRO) who is tasked with verifying if you have a valid prescription) may want to talk to the prescriber or the pharmacist.  Make sure you have those numbers when traveling in case you get a call from the MRO.

Even if you have a valid prescription and your test is reported as “negative” to the company, the MRO maybe concerned about your ability to perform your safety sensitive duties. 

What does this mean for Flight Attendants? It means that an MRO might tell you that you have 5 business days to have your prescriber contact the MRO to discuss the safety concern. If this discussion does not happen within the 5 business days or is not productive in resolving the safety issue, the MRO may then call the company and say that a safety concern exists. 

Why Should I Be Concerned? Make sure that your prescriber is fully aware of your safety sensitive duties and still clears you to use that medication while flying before you accept taking that medication as your medical treatment plan.

Where Can I Get More Information?  If you’d like to learn more about flying and the safe use of medications, visit www.FADAP.org under the resource section.   You can also contact your local AFA EAP committee.  You can find your local EAP committee representative by calling the International AFA EAP Department at 800-424-2406 or by visiting http://www.afacwa.org/your_local_eap_rep.

In addition, please refer to the full article on the DOT Testing Changes available from the Employee Assistance/Professional Standards Page on unitedafa.org. We appreciate the work of our Employee Assistance Chairperson & Vice Chairperson, Jennifer Grega and Ernie Cornejo, respectively.


Hands Off My 'Net! -  Keep the Internet Open

"Net Neutrality" is the principle that Internet service providers must treat all data on the Internet the same, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication. For instance, under these principles, internet service providers are unable to intentionally block, slow down or charge money for specific websites and online content.

The FCC is moving to implement a final rule to eliminate Net Neutrality rules.

How, you may ask, does this affect us as Flight Attendants? Very simply, anything that impacts our ability to communicate electronically can have a devastating impact on our livelihoods. Flight Attendant internet phone bills could double if cell phone and internet providers are legally permitted to charge individually for access to different websites.

Flight Attendants need Net Neutrality not only to effectively do our jobs but to also keep in contact with family and friends while on the road. This issue affects all Americans, but it is especially troubling in our line of work where we otherwise “step out of our family lives” to make travel possible for the millions of people we serve each year.  In order to maintain our relationships with family and friends, we require connectivity in locations all over the world.

The FCC plans to vote in as little as two weeks to eliminate Net Neutrality protections that keep the internet free, fair and open. Call your Senators and Representatives NOW at 202-224-3121. Tell them to support Net Neutrality:

Changes to our Unitedafa.org Website Search Functionality

Over the past several years, unitedafa.org has used Google's services to power our website's search functionality. Recently, Google has made changes to this website search functionality the impact of which has resulted in advertisements preceding desired search results.  Some of these “search results” could be mistaken for AFA articles.

It is important to know that this may not be the case. What you should know is this: Genuine AFA search results are preceded by the official AFA logo and can be distinguished from sponsored content by noting the small “ad” designation in the title line of the advertisement. You may elect to scroll past these advertisements to the desired AFA search results. If you have additional questions, contact the United MEC Communications Committee.


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