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E-Lines: September 08, 2017

Date: September 8, 2017

Preparing for Hurricane Irma 

The National Hurricane Center is predicting Irma as the worst storm system ever in the history of the Atlantic.  This catastrophic category 5 hurricane has already devastated the Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Cuba, taking 10 lives in its path. The hurricane is packing life-threatening winds up to180 mph in addition to record storm surge, rainfall hazards and flooding. The National Weather Bureau is predicting the storm is taking a west/northwestern path and could impact Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. Residents in these areas need to prepare. If you are a resident of any of these areas, please review the hurricane preparedness resources. Stay safe, evacuate your area if advised by authorities, and take care of one another.

Your United AFA MEC will post information on our website as it becomes available.  AFA EAP representatives are standing-by to assist any Flight Attendant(s) needing assistance. 

The following is an update on the operation of stations which may potentially be impacted by Irma:

 Fri. Sep. 8Sat. Sep. 9Sun. Sep. 10Mon. Sep. 11
 FLL No Ops after 4:30 p.m. No Ops No Ops Resume with 1st Scheduled Arrival
 MIA No Ops after 4:30 p.m. No Ops No Ops Resume with 1st Scheduled Arrival
 PBI No Ops after 4:30 p.m.
 No Ops No Ops Resume with 1st Scheduled Arrival
 RSW No Ops after 4:30 p.m.
 No Ops No Ops Resume with 1st Scheduled Arrival
 TPA As Scheduled
 No Ops after 5:00 p.m. No Ops Resume with 1st Scheduled Arrival
 MCO As Scheduled No Ops after 5:00 p.m. No Ops Resume with 1st Scheduled Arrival
 JAX  As Scheduled No Ops after 5:00 p.m. No Ops Resume with 1st Scheduled Arrival
 SAV As Scheduled No Ops after 5:00 p.m. No Ops Resume with 1st Scheduled Arrival

Helpful Contract Reminders

As weather condition have caused irregular operations and flight disruptions across the system, many of you had questions about the application of certain contractual protections available to you. The following is a review of some of the most frequently asked about provisions. 

For Hotel and Transportation Issues remember to use the Self Help provisions of your contract.

Transportation: Under Section 5.D.4 of our Joint Collective Bargaining Agreement (JCBA) it requires layover hotel-operated transportation to be available to pick-up Flight Attendants within 35 minutes of block arrival. It also states that if transportation is contracted independently (“public limousine service” – in other words not a hotel van), the timely transportation standard is  45 minutes after block arrival. If these wait times are exceeded, Flight Attendants may use other means of transportation to the place of lodging, i.e. self-help, and submit those expenses for reimbursement when back at the home domicile.

HotelSection 5.B.5. states if you arrive at a layover hotel and your room is not ready within 30 minutes after arrival you may use Self-Help and obtain other accommodations. There are certainly other times you may also use Self-Help such as: no hot or cold water, no power, no heat or air conditioning, broken door locks, bugs or vermin of any kind in your room, no food availability whatsoever, noise that prohibits legal rest or any situation that threatens your safety or well-being.  In addition, if you arrive, as a result of irregular operations, in a city where a hotel was not planned but becomes necessary, you may find yourself needing to use these procedures to secure your own accommodations.  You may submit those expenses for reimbursement when back at the home domicile. 

We want to point out that securing overnight accommodations is the company’s responsibility.  However, when circumstances present themselves and the company is unable to secure timely, safe, clean and quiet accommodations for us, we are authorized under the terms of the JCBA to take care of ourselves and obtain a reimbursement.  Remember, when you do secure accommodations, you must also notify the crew desk of your whereabouts so that you can be contacted should the need for re-scheduling occur.

Commuter Policy: The provisions of the negotiated Commuter Policy were implemented on December 30, 2016 and established the standards for managing Flight Attendant attendance when certain unavoidable circumstances preclude you from reporting for scheduled assignments. 

Both pre-merger CAL and CMI Flight Attendants had a similar program, commonly referred to as the “Oops” policy, in their pre-merger Contracts. This new Commuter Program provision of our Joint Collective Bargaining Agreement (JCBA), covers all Flight Attendants and introduced the program to pre-merger United Flight Attendants. 

 Details of this negotiated program are located on pages 219-222 of our JCBA and govern the following circumstances under which a Flight Attendant may be unable to report for a scheduling assignment:

  1. Un-forecasted severe weather conditions or other natural disasters (i.e., blizzards, hurricanes, earthquakes, and other similar events), or
  2. Hazardous or impassable roads resulting from severe weather, accidents, or natural disasters, or
  3. Mechanical problems while on the way to work, or
  4. Unexpected airport disruption(s) or closures

In order for a Flight Attendant commuting by air to utilize the Commuter Program there are a number of provisions which must be met.  Refer to Section 28 of our JCBA or the educational article on our MEC website.

Keep in mind, it is always a good idea to carry your Contract. If you need a copy, visit the MEC Website’s Contract page to access a digital copy.

Retirement Account Withdrawal Rules Loosened by IRS

 In recent days, the Internal Revenue Service announced additional tax relief for victims of Hurricane Harvey, by lifting the typical hurdles to accessing retirement funds. While it is usually difficult to qualify for an in-service distribution from your workplace retirement plan, that is before age 59 1/2, the IRS is bending these rules for storm victims as it has in the past.  Employer sponsored retirement plans, such as our 401(k), are able to make loans and hardship distributions to victims of Hurricane Harvey and members of their families with the usual hoops of getting at this money. Basically, any hardship arising from Hurricane Harvey is treated as an “unforeseeable emergency” for purposes of retirement plan distributions. In addition, some documentation requirements, which can be onerous, can be disregarded.

The special rules, spelled out in IRS Announcement 2017-11, apply between August 23, 2017 and January 31, 2018.  Keep in mind, these early withdrawals from a 401(k) come with a 10 percent penalty.  Before doing so, we strongly encourage you to consider all sources of additional funds. An alert has been placed on Fidelity’s NetBenefits site to notify participants of this option.

Recess is over and it’s time to get serious about Rest!

 It’s also time to remind your Representative to enact 10-hour non-reducible rest and protect U.S. aviation jobs!

 Now that Congress has returned from recess, it’s a good time to check-in with your elected Representative and remind them of the improvements for safety in the cabin, protection of good U.S. jobs, and enhancements to aviation security.

 These enhancements will not happen without your action.

 Please call your Representative today at 855-980-2366 to remind them to support 10-Hour non-reducible rest and the worker protections included in the 21st Century AIRR Act (H.R. 2997)!

 Here's what you can say when you are connected:

 “I’m asking my Representative to vote for Flight Attendant 10-hour non-reducible rest equivalent with the pilots, and stopping flags of convenience in aviation to protect US aviation jobs as included in H.R. 2997.”

 When you dial the number, 855-980-2366, you will automatically be connected to your Representative's office after a brief message. It’s easy!  Thank you! Let’s get Active!

9/11 Memorial Events

 Sixteen years ago, the aviation industry changed forever when nineteen individuals committed an unthinkable act of terrorism against our nation. This action resulted in the loss of 35 of our colleagues - Pilots, Flight Attendants and Customer Service Agents - who perished that day along with thousands of other people.

 We will never forget the first responders, the safety professionals, the heroes who gave their all in caring for the passengers on those flights that day and who perished while doing so. Memorial Services are held annually in towns and communities across our country. We encourage anyone seeking to attend a service to visit the United MEC website’s We Remember page to find the latest listing of events.

 As we always do, we encourage each of you to recall the events of September 11, 2001 in the way that is best for you. We recognize this date can be stressful for some of us.  In every case, we ask that you consider your own needs first.  Should the need arise, please don't hesitate to reach out to your AFA – EAP representatives who are always available to assist.  We will Never Forget!

Pre-Merger CAL Clarification on the New Language Bases to Open October 30 

 The article New Language Bases to Open October 3, 2017, posted on our Website on September 5, 2017, contained information on the new language bases that are scheduled to open on October 30, 2017. We wanted to clarify that these transfer opportunities are for Flight Attendants currently working under the pre-merger CAL contract. 

 Transfer opportunities are available through September 15, 2017, until 10:00AM CT for vacancies at new language bases that are scheduled to open October 30, 2017, in time for the November bid month. Flight Attendants interested in taking advantage of these opportunities must be language qualified in Korean (SKO) and Chinese (CAM) and these qualifications must be included in their records.  Korean language qualified vacancies are available in San Francisco (SLS-SKO) and Chinese language qualified vacancies are available in Washington (WLS-CAM).  Flight Attendants transferring after the 10:00AM deadline on September 15, 2017, will be required to submit their transfer requests by the regular monthly transfer deadline established under the Agreement.

AFA EAP Personal Strategies for Approaching the Anniversary of September 11th

 As we approach the anniversary of September 11th, many of us will begin to plan how we’ll recognize this day. Anniversaries offer an opportunity to acknowledge our memories and experiences, to connect with others who share in them, and to pay tribute to our individual and collective journeys.  They can also serve as personal and professional milestones of our healing and resiliency.   For some, September 11th will be marked with private personal gestures such as observing a moment of silence, spending quiet time reflecting, or dedicating our flying to our profession.  For others, it will be marked with collective activities such as ceremonies and memorial services.

There is no right way or better way to recognize the anniversary; but, there are some suggestions that may prove helpful as we approach the anniversary of September 11th.

  •  Observe the anniversary in a way that’s comfortable for you.  Say no to events or activities that you sense may flood you with too many feelings.  Find more gentle ways of honoring the anniversary.
  •  Don’t compare yourself to how others around you appear to be dealing with the September 11th anniversary.
  •  Acknowledge that we all heal at different rates, in different ways, and with different outcomes.
  •  Give yourself permission and time to be affected.  Though uncomfortable, anticipate and plan for having a stress reaction as the anniversary approaches.  Trust that if you have moments of difficulty, you’ll be able to pull yourself back together.
  •  Try not to isolate yourself.  Pre-plan now to be with people if you know you have this tendency.
  •  However, you choose to structure your day this September 11th or however it just naturally unfolds, please remember that your AFA EAP committee representatives welcome being a part of it.  If you or a flying partner needs a confidential ear, please call us at 1-800-424-2406 or find your local EAP representatives’ contact information at www.afanet.org.  Remember, we’re just a phone call away.

Vacation Accrual, Elections and Bidding User Guide (Part 1 of 2)

 The company has published a user guide which provides step-by-step instructions on how Flight Attendants can view their Vacation Accrual information, make an Optional Election request, and submit a bid in CCS.   The guide is available to download on Flying Together > Inflight Services > One United > Reference Guides. The user guide is also available on the Link in the Content Locker app under the JCBA Resources folder.

 Guidelines and rules for the vacation process are located in the 2018 Vacation Booklet on the company’s website.

 The second and final user guide will be available in early November, and will include step-by-step instructions on vacation trading and vacation fly through in CCS.

Reminders and Quick Links

 September 11 

  9/11 Events
 September 18        Inflight Service App Deadline
 September 23     (UAL) Contractual Reserve Letter List  Published  
 September 25     Vacation Election Period Opens
 October 15  
  Vacation Election Period Closes


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