E-Lines: October 13, 2020
October 13, 2020
CALL NOW! - Save Aviation Jobs; Congress Must Pass a Payroll Support Program Extension
Over 100,000 aviation workers woke up without work on October 1, 2020: 45,000 were furloughed and tens of thousands more went on ‘unpaid leave’ when the Payroll Support Program expired. There is no longer a backstop for aviation job loss; there will likely be more. The October 1 furloughs were not a notice. People woke up Thursday morning without jobs, without paychecks, and without healthcare. They are filing for unemployment as we speak — but we have a chance to reverse course if Congress acts quickly.
Flight Attendants and other essential aviation workers have spent months calling on Congress to reach a deal for a comprehensive relief package to help all workers, including an extension of the PSP. But when Congress failed to act before the Sept. 30 deadline, furloughs began immediately for Flight Attendants and other aviation workers.
Congress must pass a PSP extension through March, 2021, to support essential aviation workers, prevent mass furloughs and protect our broader economy!
Call Congress: Extend PSP
"Hello, I am a constituent calling to tell my (Senator/Representative) that aviation workers are out of time. Furloughs have begun and we only have short time to reverse course. We need relief and an extension of the Payroll Support Program TODAY. Without an extension of this successful jobs program, there is no backstop for layoffs. This is just the start. Inaction is not an option. We are out of time #ExtendPSP now. Thank you.”
COBRA Coverage while on Involuntary Furlough
It’s been a full 12 days since October 1st when the Involuntary Furlough started. We’ve received a number of questions from those in Involuntary Furlough with the primary question being – What happens to my healthcare and what do I need to do to keep it?”
We want to start by first acknowledging that there is a difference between what is actually happening and what appears in the current 2020 Involuntary Furlough Informational Packet. Further, it’s important to understand that COBRA gives workers and their families who lose their health benefits the right to choose to continue group health benefits provided by their group health plan for limited periods of time under certain circumstances such as voluntary or involuntary job loss. Typically, the employee is required to elect coverage and premiums must be paid before COBRA coverage becomes active.
In recent days, United management, recognizing that a number of us would become eligible for COBRA as a result of the Reduction in Force, worked with our Benefits Administrator to auto-enroll affected Flight Attendants in COBRA. Specifically, for medical, dental and vision coverage. We want to be clear, this was a good thing that was intended to assist in reducing the number of telephone calls to the UABC. Unfortunately, the Involuntary Furlough Information packet was not updated and, it would seem, not everyone has seen the company publication advising that auto-enrollment into COBRA had occurred.
We’ve received a lot of feedback on long waits for a Benefits representative and we understand your frustration at not being able to get through.
We support the auto-enrollment decision and recognize that this was done to expedite processing for the large number of employees affected. From the employee perspective, it is also helpful to understand that auto-enrollment doesn’t commit you to any coverage. If you want to continue coverage, you go onto YBR and pay for the coverage. If you don’t want it, don’t pay it. It’s a no harm, no foul approach.
Perhaps another source of misunderstanding lies in the fact that coverage is not activated until the COBRA premium is paid. Even though you’ve been auto-enrolled in the coverage you had just prior to being separated from United, your physician or other provider’s office may advise you that records show no coverage. This is true until the premium is paid at which time your coverage is reinstated effective to October 1, 2020. Any services you may have obtained while coverage was not yet effective can be submitted for reimbursement under the plan in which you are enrolled.
Finally, we understand that there is tremendous frustration with not being able to find the invoice for premiums dues. The timing of this furlough activity couldn’t have happened at a worse time – that is, during the time when the company is planning for next year’s open enrollment. As a result, some of the activities to prepare invoices for coverage were delayed until October 10th which has delayed preparation and receipt of invoices for coverage. Our MEC Benefits Committee continues to pursue resolution of this issue with the company Benefits group. In addition, we’re seeking clarification as to if, and when, the Wellness Credit is applied for those who are receiving benefits for 90 days on the same basis of an active employee. We hope to have answers shortly and will communicate additional information in Friday’s E-lines.
NAL Schedules Awarded at DEN, EWR and HNL
The award of NAL Schedules was processed by Crew Schedule Planning today. NAL schedules were awarded in those bases where the number of Special COLA requests exceeded the number of Special COLAs set by management. For the month of November, NAL Schedules were awarded to non-IVFMP participants at DEN, EWR and HNL
Those Flight Attendants awarded or assigned an NAL, will have their monthly schedule bid screen indicate NAL in the header.
Flight attendants, including those in the IVFMP program who will be participating in the November schedule bid, will notice that NAL notification is missing from their bid screen. These individuals should bid in the normal monthly schedule bid process. Bids close at 08:00 HDT on October 17.
A CCS message was to have been sent to DEN, EWR and HNL participants, all IVFMP and Flight Attendants who bid into NAL in these bases. The message will point out the award has been completed and will provide direction on how to determine if they have been awarded NAL for the month, using either the bid screen or the NAL screen in CCS.
If you have additional questions, please contact your Local Council.
Fall 2020 Regular Meeting of the United Master Executive Council via ZOOM™
As we reported earlier this month, the Members of the United Master Executive Council planned to conduct the first in-person Regular Meeting in Billing, Montana since January of this year. Billings was selected because it was in one of the three United States having the lowest incidences of COVID-19 cases and the options available provided the Union with the ability to manage costs and complete the business of the Union economically. Over the course of the past several weeks since the meeting announcement was posted, we have continued to monitor the instances of COVID-19 infections to ensure that all of our representatives are able to attend the meeting while, at the same time, ensuring your Union was in full compliance with all state laws as it applies to gathering and social distancing requirements.
Regrettably, the number of COVID-19 cases in Montana have continued to rise over the course of the past several weeks increasing the potential that a large gathering of people would become unlikely, if not impossible. In consultation with the Members of the United Master Executive Council, a decision has been made to re-schedule the in-person Fall 2020 Regular Meeting of the United Master Executive Council. In its place, a virtual meeting conducted via Zoom™ will be scheduled for October 20 & 21, 2020. Additional details will be posted shortly.
Make you 2021 Vacation Elections by October 15, 2020
The Vacation Election period closes Thursday, October 15th, 2020. If you choose to participate in the optional Vacation Election process, select the “Proceed to Vacation Election” button located in the bottom right corner of the accrual letter page. You may also choose not to make any selections in the Vacation Election process and skip this step.
Additional information regarding the different election options, Buy Back, Deferral to 401K or UK Stakeholder, Paid or Unpaid Flex days can be found in the October 3, 2020 publication of e-lines
As an additional reminder, Section 12.D.7. of our Contract provides that Vacation Buy Back shall not be utilized during a Flight Attendant furlough. While we remain hopeful that Congress will enact the CARES Act, Vacation bidding opens on October 23rd and there is pre-work with regard to allocations that must be completed in the days immediately prior to bids opening. Said another way, if Vacation Buy Back cannot be implemented because the Flight Attendant furlough is not resolved, the company will need to plan to include the appropriate number of vacation days in the allocation tables. Vacation Buy Back will be backed out from the vacation screens and any days initially specified for Buy Back will be returned to your vacation allocation for bidding.
System Scheduling Report Now Available
MEC Central Schedule Committee
The Central Schedule Committee's most recent DSL Report detailing the development of Flight Attendants schedules for November has been published on www.unitedafa.org.
EWR-LGA Shuttle Service – New Provider.
Effective September 30, 2020, EWR - LGA Shuttle Service will now be serviced by National Transportation, Inc. (NTI, NYC, Inc.) Please look for the NTI Logo when using this service.
Additionally, there are no changes to the operation of LGA Shuttle Service schedule.
Annual Benefits Enrollment Opens October 19th – 30th
MEC Benefits Committee
Now is the time to compare your benefit options and view pricing for all the 2021 options. Visit Flying Together for all the options available for 2021.
Learn what your benefits options are and what they cost.
Nothing could be more critical to understanding your benefits than taking the time to understand not only the costs, but all of the aspects of the plan. This year, United is promoting a new Healthy Advantage HAS PPO plan. It is very important that you understand this plan is not our contractual Traditional PPO plan. There are significant differences in deductibles and other cover costs. Be sure you take the time to understand the differences to ensure you avoid making an unintended selection of PPO plans if that is your choice.
Over the course of the next several weeks, we’ll be working to highlight the various plans and will share that information with you via E-lines.
Earnings Live is Thursday October 15, 2020
Thursday, October 15 at 1:30 p.m. CT, United will host a virtual Earnings Live call to discuss third-quarter earnings, the state of the company and answer pre-submitted questions from employees.