Home > News > MEC Reserve Committee Report - September 30, 2019

MEC Reserve Committee Report - September 30, 2019

Date: September 30, 2019

September 30, 2019

The monthly Reserve Meeting with United Airlines was held on September 26, 2019 at the corporate offices at Willis Tower in Chicago.

Present for AFA Present for the Company

Jeffrey Heisey

MEC Secretary-Treasurer

Chad Melby

Director of Inflight Operations Crew Scheduling

Matt Stegehuis

MEC Reserve Committee Chairperson

Jeff Moore

Senior Manager of Inflight Crew Operations

Rene Trujillo

MEC Reserve Committee Vice-Chairperson

Jill Fox

Manager of Inflight Scheduling Process Quality & Training

Discussion on “Missed Trip” (MT) Designation

In light of the recent adverse weather in Houston that impacted Flight Attendants’ ability to get to work, management initiated a discussion on the “Missed Trip” (MT) designator that is used in a number of circumstances to record the fact that a Flight Attendant was not present for her/his assignment. The recent weather event in the Houston area caused significant flooding on roadways in and around the IAH station which prevented many Flight Attendants from reporting their assigned trip or Standby. Flight Attendants heard on local radio stations that the Houston airport was “closed” when, in reality, the airport was not accepting arrivals. Because management planned to continue to operate certain hub-to-hub and international flights, the Crew Desk continued to call Reserves to the field. Some Flight Attendants reported feeling “threatened with a Missed Trip” by schedulers when they expressed concern about their ability to make it to the airport.

Many Flight Attendants view a Missed Trip “MT” as something negative, it is important to realize the use of the MT code is procedurally the manner in which Crew Scheduling personnel report that a Flight Attendant is not present for her/his assignment. It is only following a discussion with a supervisor that a determination is made on how the missed trip will be coded for Attendance point purposes.

Management representatives shared their perspective on how the term “Missed Trip” is received by Flight Attendants and that the term carries with it a negative connotation. This may explain why some Flight Attendants felt “threatened” when Crew Scheduling advised the MT was their only course of action. The concern expressed appeared to center around the code. We pointed out that DNF, UNA, etc. was previously used and those codes carried with them the same negative connotation. 

We suggested it may likely be the manner in which the situation is presented to Flight Attendants that drives the perception. We recommend schedulers be trained to be a bit more cognizant of their word choice to de-escalate the discussion. For example, rather than just saying, “I’m giving you a Missed Trip,” the scheduler might instead consider, “The process requires me to place a Missed Trip on your line in order to remove you from your assignment. Please talk to your supervisor and explain the situation for her/his review.

Introduction of New Managing Director of Crew Resources and Base Services

We were introduced to the new Managing Director of Crew Resources and Base Services, Mike Sasse. Mike has assumed the responsibilities of the position formerly held by Mark Kilayko who has accepted a new role elsewhere in the company. Mike has worked for United in various capacities for 12 years, mostly within Airport Operations. We welcomed Mike in his new role.

UPDATE: Resolving End-of-Month 1-in-7 Conflicts

Flight Attendants continue to report difficulty when notifying crew desk personnel of end-of-month 1-in-7 conflicts that require resolution. There have been a number of instances where schedulers have informed Flight Attendants that they must first attempt to trade days off on their own via CCS before seeking the assistance of inflight scheduling. In other situations, Scheduling personnel have attempted to convince Flight Attendants that the legality will “correct itself.” Both of these actions are incorrect.

Management representatives, while unaware of these reports, committed to send out an additional communication in the form of a briefing item to schedulers. There is no disagreement - A Flight Attendant who contacts crew scheduling prior to the first day of the new month and indicates she/he does not wish to waive her/his 1-in-7 must have the conflict resolved at the time of the call.There is no prerequisite for a Flight Attendant to first attempt “self-trading” in CCS. Flight Attendants should not be told to “wait and see” what they may be assigned nor should they be asked to resolve the conflict at a later date. Additionally, the ability to resolve this legality issue is completely unrelated to the “pool numbers.”

Flight Attendants faced with any of these explanations and who are unable to ultimately resolve a 1:7 situation by enlisting the assistance of a supervisor are asked to contact their Local Council Reserve or Grievance Committee for assistance in resolving this matter. This call must be made before the first day of the schedule month. Local Reserve and Grievance Committees should direct these reports to the MEC Reserve Committee to ensure we have the examples we need to press for complete resolution of this issue. Please see our recent articles published on the MEC website for further details.

UPDATE: Timeline for Converting Special Qualification Pairings

We continued our previous discussion on the concerns expressed by Flight Attendants regarding the timeline by which open special qualification pairings are converted to non-special qualification pairings when there are no legal and available (Special Qualification) Reserves in the designated sub-base.

· International Purser (IPurser) Pairings: There have been noticeable inconsistencies with schedulers failing to confirm there are no IPurser Reserves available before assigning open IPurser positions to non-IPurser Lineholders. Management is working to remind schedulers of the correct process through additional communications. If the event notice these positions are improperly assigned to out of boase Reserves when there are legal and available IPurser Reserves, you should immediately contact scheduling. Please also report these occurrences to your Local Reserve Committee who will track and forward the information to the MEC Reserve Committee.

· Language Qualified (LQ) Pairings: While management representatives were not fully prepared to present the Union with a formalized timeline as to when Language qualified pairings are designated as “something else” – another language, another qualification or as a non-Special qualification pairing at the 14:00 hour point prior to departure, we reminded management of the provisions outline in Section 7.L.2., which provides Flight Attendants who are in an LQ sub-base and who are also qualified in other languages the ability to pick up Open Time in the sub-base(s) of any language for which they are qualified between 16 and 14 hours prior to departure. We have been given a commitment that this communication is forth coming.

UPDATE: Crew Scheduling Support Representatives

In anticipation of the implementation of the automated block-in process, management representatives informed us that the Crew Scheduling Support Representative program has been discontinued as of September 30, 2019. Incoming calls to scheduling will again be connected directly to the crew desk. Management stated that some of the Crew Scheduling Support Representatives have applied for permanent positions as schedulers.

UPDATE: Surface Transportation Transit Times

At our last meeting, we inquired about a common reference that could be used by both Flight Attendants and schedulers to determine the transit time between two stations which are not co-terminals, BWI to PHL is one such example. Management representatives informed us that they were able to pull information from a previously used Unimatic DIS page that contained the references and are working to transition the data to a usable format. The best location for the common reference has not yet been determined.

Hours Picked Up on Reserve Days Off Prior to Move-Up Award

We shared with management an example where a Flight Attendant who had picked up a pairing on Reserve days off at the beginning of the month later saw these hours improperly moved from “Add Pay” to “credit” when awarded a Move-Up line.

It was confirmed during our conversation that hours picked up on Reserve days off prior to the award of a Move-Up line should always remain as Add Pay and are not to be included in the minimum credit calculation in the event a Move-up line is built for the Flight Attendant. Please let your Local Reserve Committee know of any changes to how a pairing picked up on Reserve days off is paid once a Move-Up line has been awarded.

Consistent Failure to Provide 15-hours’ Notice

We expressed your frustration and that felt by many Reserves who continue to report being assigned to all-night flying (or Standby positions that align with these check-ins) with a less-than-15-hour notice. This is particularly heightened when the position has been open for the better part of the day. Similarly, we shared the frustration associated with what appears to be the consistent failure to assign pre-0500 check-ins to Ready Reserves prior to the previous days’ Reserve Preferencing process.

Company representatives requested more information about the specific circumstances, especially regarding the assignment to all-night flying in order to determine if there is a trend. Management reiterated their ongoing effort to “avoid” calling Flight Attendants during overnight hours, when possible. In doing so, management referred to conversations with individual Flight Attendants who expressed their personal views that these calls should be placed closer to departure time. We asserted our view that the 15-hour notice was negotiated and ratified by the Membership. We pointed out that while some of our Members might like the call closer to departure, there are others who would not. To provide Flight Attendants the desired consistency as well as the greatest opportunity to rest and plan their day, we reminded those present that that Crew Scheduling is obligated to comply with the provisions outlined in Section 8.K.1. of our Contract.

Local Reserve Committees are asked to track and submit examples of Reserves who are not given a 15-hour notice prior to departure even when the need is known at that time. Please include this information as part of your monthly Local Reserve Report and forward to the MEC Reserve Committee.

Order of Reassignment for Reserves

Based on recent reports from Local Councils of inconsistency in the application of the process which determines the order in which Reserves are reassigned in two different circumstances when all are legal for such reassignment:

· When it becomes necessary to reassign a deadheading Reserve to a working position on the same flight in order to fulfill an FAA minimum position or to meet ESGs.

· When it becomes necessary to reassign a Reserve to an open position on a different flight.

After a brief discussion, we determined that the topic should first be taken back to the MEC Officers and Contract Interpretation Committee for consideration.

Trading Pairings Picked Up on Reserve Days Off

We have heard that there continues to be some confusion on the part of both schedulers and Flight Attendants about whether or not Reserves who have picked up a pairing on days off have the ability to trade that pairing for a different pairing, based on the language in Section 8.M.1. This confusion has reportedly, at times, led to an inconsistent application of the provision.

Management representatives stated that while there is an existing defect on file for IT to eventually create an automated process in CCS, at this time whenever a Flight Attendant wishes to drop a pairing that was picked up on days off to another Flight Attendant, it is a manual transaction performed by scheduling. The company identified a primary concern during the process of ensuring that any associated Add Pay is not inadvertently converted to credit that would then be applied toward the Reserve minimum guarantee and time accrued (TMAC).

The topic merits further review, and as such, we will take the issue back to the Joint Implementation Team (JIT) for their consideration and review.

Pay Missing for Purple Flag Pairings Picked Up on Reserve Days Off

We provided management with a couple of examples where Reserves who picked up Purple Flag pairings while on days off did not receive the associated Purple Flag pay. When they attempted to reconcile the issue, representatives from Crew Pay were not able to see that the pairing had been designated Purple Flag so the Flight Attendants were directed back to scheduling. Management conceded that there should have been a notation in the pairing comments to identify it as having been designated as Purple Flag.

When picking up White or Purple Flag pairings, Flight Attendants are encouraged to take screenshots, when possible, in the event there are any discrepancies after the pairing is picked up. In the case of Purple Flag pairings, if you do not see a notation in the pairing comments (located just below the pairing information) you should contact crew scheduling. Always verify your Pay Register to ensure that the associated pay incentives have been included. If you experience any issues, please contact your Local Council for assistance.

When Schedulers Use uCrew vs. COSMOS

uCrew is the scheduling platform in development by the company that is anticipated to eventually replace COSMOS. While some functionality has already shifted to uCrew, certain transactions must still be performed in COSMOS. We sought an understanding of how schedulers are currently using these two systems relative to Reserve assignments.

Management representatives explained uCrew is currently used to determine the order in which Reserves are to be assigned. As part of the project to enhance the Reserve Availability screen in CCS, a primary objective was to have both schedulers and Flight Attendants seeing the same information presented in the same manner. The Reserve Availability list in uCrew was created to mirror what Flight Attendants see in CCS.

Once the Reserve to be assigned has been determined using the Availability list in uCrew, the scheduler must then use COSMOS to place the assignment in the Reserves line. COSMOS is also used to perform legality checks, to update pairings and to record comments that have been added by Crew Scheduling.

Issues When Assigning Flight Attendants Who Have “RA” Days

Lineholders who have Reserve Adjustment (“RA”) days due to a month-to-month line adjustment and who elect to participate in Reserve Preferencing report inconsistencies in how RA days are processed.

1. Although visible to schedulers, Flight Attendants with RA days do not appear on the Reserve Availability screen in CCS the result being neither the Flight Attendant with RA days nor the other available Reserves have an accurate representation of where they stand in the order of assignment relative to other who are available but missing from the Reserve availability display.

2. Once the Reserve Preferencing process has been completed and the system has assigned a Flight Attendant on RA days, we are learning the assignment will not commit to the Flight Attendant’s line because the RA day coding prevents assignment. Ultimately, the trip ends up back in Open Time.

Both issues have already been reported to company IT Automation team representative. Our initiative was intended to ensure scheduling management was also aware of a resource that wasn’t being properly utilized in the assignment process. Management committed to follow up with IT and we will continue to monitor any progress.

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