MEC President's letter on implementation
August 24, 2018
August 24, 2018
Ladies and Gentlemen:
In May of 2010 it was announced our predecessor airlines would complete a transaction bringing our great airlines together. In October of 2010, the transaction was completed, United Continental Holdings was formed and our airlines came together forming the airline at which we all work today. With that historical industry event we embarked on an unalterable course of change and started a process that will culminate in bringing all of us, as Flight Attendants, together on October 1st.
Since 2010, we have seen the remarkable changes as they relate to the transformation that has occurred following the combination of our airlines. There can be no doubt about the fact that our company is better positioned in today’s highly competitive industry than we were years ago as separate entities.
As a result of the ratification of our JCBA, we have continued to work under separate scheduling provisions. During this transition, many of the changes we’ve seen occur around us as a result of this combination of our airlines have not impacted us as a combined Flight Attendant group in the same way it has affected other employee groups - until now. October 1st is literally just around the corner and with its arrival comes unprecedented change that will directly affect us as Flight Attendants, collectively and individually. As with any change, the unpredictability and pace of this change can be unsettling.
Prior to the ratification of our Contract and included as an integral part of our JCBA is Letter of Agreement that ensured your Union with a guaranteed role in the implementation process. We have been full participants in the process and our representatives have taken an active role in not only ensuring we understand how the Contract would be implemented but also to ensure it is implemented consistent with the intent of the discussions that took place at the bargaining table. While not the exclusive decision maker in the implementation process, working with the Company members of the Joint Implementation Team, we have been methodically driving the pace of change leading to the much anticipated October 1st combination.
Hours of work by dedicated members of our Union in coordination with equally dedicated company representatives have been committed to this project to ensure the best possible outcome. Hundreds of hours have been dedicated to the development of business requirement documents. These documents spelled out the expected outcome when provisions of the Contract we applied to any given sequence of flying. These documents spelled out, in the most detailed way, how hours and minutes would be accounted for in order to ensure these would be properly converted in the pay system. Combined with a variety of add pay items, premiums, overrides and incentives all efforts were dedicated to ensure the pay provisions of our Contract were applied correctly, every time.
Thousands of programming hours were dedicated to developing a number of computer systems that would feed information into a complex network that would manage and monitor the activities of the company’s diverse aircraft fleet to which all of our pay is directly tied. While perhaps not under the most ideal circumstances, testing of these systems has been ongoing on isolated systems and as part of a greater, more complex network.
This background information is essential in leading us to where we are today and the important role each of us must now be prepared to accept as the next step in the process. Your Union has taken a very active role in advocating for the development of the educational materials and the CCS practice environments provided by the company. While ideally we would like to have had this information out to all Local Councils sooner, the fact is development of these materials was directly contingent on the development of the systems on which we will rely as of October 1st. It is from these systems we obtained the screen shots contained in the educational publications.
We encourage you to find the time to learn about these systems, to review the educational materials that have been developed to improve our comprehensive understanding of the contract changes that will impact all of us.
As we begin using these new systems, there will be some functionality that will not be immediately available. For example, with the sunset of Unimatic, functions unique to that system such as E-notes or TRDKEY, will be replaced by alternate functionality in the new crew management system. However, that functionality was mutually determined to be something that will be developed and made available once we are all on a common crew scheduling platform.
Another example of an item that will be delivered once we are on a common scheduling platform is the functionality to support how trips at the end of a schedule month that overlap into the new month are split and paid. Negotiated in the JCBA is the concept that these trips will “split” over midnight on the last day of the month and any hours flown prior to midnight will be included in the “old” month for pay and credit purposes while hours flown after midnight will be included in the new month projection for pay and credit purposes.
In conversations we have been having with you as we’ve traveled around the system, we’ve told you honestly that while we are optimistically enthusiastic about the changes that will come with the transition to a common scheduling platform, we’re also very clear there will be glitches and that not everything will be perfect and there will be unexpected challenges. We also understand that there are those who would argue we should wait until we have a guarantee that everything is perfect before taking the next step. Other’s ask, “Are you sure this is the right time?”
Here’s what we know. We have a track record of dedication and commitment from those who have been doing this work. Ours is a dedicated leadership fully committed to bringing all of us together. We all understand that we cannot, despite any apprehension, let perfect stand in the way of progress. We are convinced that standing in the same place waiting for some ambiguous sign that the perfect time to move forward “has arrived” is neither the way forward nor is it a sign of leadership.
We are assured that progress means moving forward – despite the uncertainty. What we know is that facing our future together, is our surest road to success. Get involved. Do the work to learn about the change that is upon us. We’re excited about the future and ask each of you to join us as we make this next step in securing our collective success.
Ken Diaz, President
United Master Executive Council