E-Lines: October 16, 2020
October 16, 2020
Everyday Counts: Take Action to #ExtendPSP Now!
We recognize that our requests to Take Action may be seen as being repetitive in nature. While this may be the case, we simply cannot stress the importance of your continued action. Your elected representatives in Washington D.C. need to hear from you. They need to clearly understand what we expect of them in this initiative. In the most forthright, respectful and non-insulting way possible, they need to hear us tell them we are demanding that they “do their job” and act in the interests of the employees. This is not an airline bailout. This is an economic initiative that is intended to keep our communities, country and world economies functioning. For them not to act on this, is simply not an option.
"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.”
Join a #ReliefNow Action
#ExtendPSP actions across the country over the next few days.
RSVP to an event below or host your own.
Representative Dan Crenshaw #ReliefNow Event
1849 Kingwood Drive
RSVP here >
Senators Chuck Schumer & Kirsten Gillibrand #ReliefNow Event
780 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10017
RSVP here >
Chicago Aviation Workers for #ReliefNow 2.0
Chicago Federal Center Plaza
50 W Adams St, Chicago, IL 60610
RSVP here >
United Master Executive Council Acts to Postpone Virtual Fall 2020 Regular MEC Meeting
Over the past several weeks, we have reported on the efforts of the United Master Executive Council to schedule the first in-person meeting since January of this year. In response to increasing instances of COVID-19 infections, the quarterly in-person meeting was cancelled and, in its place, a virtual meeting of the United Master Executive Council by Zoom™ was planned for next week Tuesday and Wednesday.
This past week, the United Master Executive Council acted to postpone the virtual MEC Meeting scheduled for next week until after the end of October (on a date to be determined by the United MEC) to provide time to learn more about any CARES Act extension and to address the necessary logistics for the virtual meeting.
We recognize there are any number of questions about next steps all of which are fully dependent upon the outcome of Congressional action to extend the CARES Act. This information is crucial in planning for next steps and in providing for the representation of all of our Members. Once a new date for the virtual meeting is finalized, we will communicate that through our Union’s communication channels.
Third-Quarter Financial Results & Positioning United for our post-COVID Future
Earlier this week, in addition to announcing third quarter operating results, management publicly outlined future plans to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic by delivering on its three-pillar strategy of building and maintaining liquidity, minimizing cash burn and variabilizing its cost structure. United management credits achieving these objectives in managing the crisis which positions United to lead the industry when demand for air travel returns.
- The company had a net loss of $1.8 billion, and an adjusted net lossof $2.4 billion.
- Total operating revenues were down 78 percent year-over-year, on a 70 percent decrease in capacity year-over-year.
- Passenger revenue was down 84 percent year-over-year.
Third Trimester CBT – Required to Maintain FAA Qualifications
The Third Trimester CBT is now available for completion and is required to be completed by, October 30, 2020 at 2359 Central Standard Time. Log into TakeOff Learning and select Continuing Qualifications (CQ) 2020 Trimester 3. Compensation for completion of this training is outlined in our Contract.
We want to shift the focus on completion of this particular training module. Completion of this training module is required to maintain your FAA qualifications. Failure to complete this training will result in the need for you to attend requalification training after December 1, 2020.
We encourage you to make the dedicated effort to complete the 3rd Trimester CBT prior to the October 30, 2020 deadline.
Return to Availability List following completion of a Standby (OSB) Assignment.
MEC Reserve Committee
Over the course of the past several weeks, we have received questions from Local Reserve Committees and Members questions about the circumstances under which a Reserve is to be placed back on the availability list on the same calendar day after having been released from Standby (OSB).
Ultimately, it depends on how the Flight Attendant was initially assigned during the 1930 Reserve assignment process, as this determines her/his required availability for the following day. Review the article posted on the Reserve page of the MEC website which provides more detail on this contractual process.
United Develops an Internal Link Protection Plan – Elections begin October 22, 2020
United is officially discontinuing its relationship with Safeware® and is introduction a new internal Link Protection plan to protect your Link device in the event of loss or stolen. Where, in the past, we elected into Safeware® coverage via an external website, those electing this coverage will do so via Help Hub.
- Make your election from October 22 through November 30 by going to Link/Sled Recovery Protection Plan – Standard Enrollment Period in Help Hub.
- The cost is $30 for coverage from December 1, 2020 through November 30, 2021. The cost will be deducted from your paycheck.
- By opting in, your annual enrollment fee of $30 covers the first replacement claim for a lost or stolen Link/sled. Any additional replacement claims will be paid by the employee at the replacement fee costs ($300 for Link and $75 for sled).
- If you don’t make an election, you’re automatically opted out and will be responsible for paying the replacement charges for a lost or stolen Link/sled.
If you currently have Safeware™ coverage this year,
- your coverage plan will be extended to November 30, 2020 at no additional cost. If you need to verify your coverage, simply call Link Support
- If you’re not currently enrolled and would like to obtain coverage for the month of November before the new coverage period begins, you can opt in for a prorated cost by sending an email to email@example.com with your name and employee number.
Process to be used in Return of Company Property via DHL Hits a Snag
For those Flight Attendants based in the three international bases of FRA, NRT and HKG who are affected by the closure of their bases as well as domestic Flight Attendants residing in International cities who have been provided instructions to return company property via DHL have hit several bumps in the road when trying to use the process set up between United and DHL. We’ve heard from many of you that you are experiencing problems when attempting to use the United/DHL process and DHL is providing a number of different explanations as to next steps. In many cases, those instructions are increasing not only your frustration, but your concern about not meeting the October 30, 2020 return deadline that has been established by the company.
We have had a number of conversations with management about the efforts that are underway to fix the DHL process. In the meantime, we’ve shared our concerns about your inability to return the equipment. Management has acknowledged that it is not reasonable to hold you to that deadline if the process established by the company does not support your efforts to meet the deadline.
Today, we have clearly established with management, if you are making the effort to return the equipment via DHL and are experiencing difficulties in doing so because of disruptions in the United/DHL process, management will not reasonably hold you to the October 30th deadline.
We will continue to press for a streamlined process that works and will communicate additional details on the DHL/United process as they become available.
For those in the United States, Federal Express has a process established for your use and reports indicate that this process if far more reliable. Unfortunately, there is not a FedEx process available for Flight Attendants residing in international cities to use.
Company Clarifies Reductions to Vacation Accrual While on Special COLA
Vacation Letters for Flight Attendants were available as of September 25, 2020 and since that time, those who participated in the Special COLA offerings during the vacation accrual year have been questioning the vacation reduction they are seeing published in these letters.
Pointing to an April 10, 2020 communication where AFA identified contradictory information about vacation accrual while on Special COLA and advised Members of our understanding of the impact of Special COLAs on vacation accrual based on information we were provided by the company, people have expressed confusion.
The company, in an effort to eliminate the confusion and clearly communicate the impact of Special COLAs on vacation accrual, has published their explanation for the reductions in the 2021 vacation days. Pointing to a miscalculation of 2019 vacation days where Special COLAs did not reduce vacation accrual, management explained that the 2019 vacation accruals were not reduced as they should have been for Special COLAs taken during that vacation accrual year. The company explained that vacation reductions were not applied retroactively for 2019 and, as a result of that error, those who took Special COLAs during the 2019 vacation accrual year did not experience a vacation reduction. The IFSW dated October 15, 2020 included the following information:
A Special COLA is a reducible Leave of Absence. Under the terms of Section 12.A.8. of the Agreement, for each thirty (30) days or major portion thereof during which a flight attendant is on a Special COLA, vacation accrual will be reduced by one-twelfth (1/12).
In 2019, we failed to correctly apply this reduction for flight attendants who participated in Special COLA during the vacation accrual period, resulting in flight attendants accruing more vacation than they should have accrued. While not entitled to full accrual under the Agreement, the Company did not apply the reductions, nor did we take back the reductions that were given in error. This reduction will apply for 2020 and continue to apply unless otherwise specified in the Special COLA packet created for each Special COLA.
Employees Affected by Involuntary Furlough to Travel based on Company Seniority
In response to the advocacy of the Unions, employees and other work groups, after discussion with the Vice President responsible for employee travel as well as multiple Member of Labor Relations (representing the various work groups) yesterday, we are happy to report that a decision was made to change company policy to use the board date for all workgroups on involuntary furlough (or a reduction in force) to the adjusted company seniority date (otherwise known as the date of hire/company seniority date) in place of the length (years) of service. Effectively, the result of this change is the treatment of these affected employees, for travel purposes, as if they were active employees for the 180 day period of time during which travel privileges have been extended.
Transfers Effective for December Awarded October 14, 2020 – Interplay with IVFMP Explained
A total of 166 transfers were awarded on October 14, 2020 and are effective for the December 2020 schedule month:
Flight Attendants awarded these transfers must respond and accept these transfers in order for these to be finalized.
In light of these recently announced transfers, we’ve received a number of questions from those in the Involuntary Furlough Mitigation Program (IVFMP) questioning why transfers were processed prior to their reactivation as an active Flight Attendant. IVFMP was developed in response to the implementation of the company’s reduction in force. Management determined that a reduction in the total number of Flight Attendants required to cover the operation was necessary on a system-wide basis. Our Contract provides that any such reduction in force occurs on a systemwide, not domicile by domicile, basis.
Now that the reduction in force has been implemented, from a number’s perspective, the company has, in their view, the correct number of Flight Attendants necessary. It’s just that all of these people are not in the locations where the company’s optimizer would like for these people to be in order to develop the most cost-effective flying solution based on the parameters established by the company.
In response, the company is now awarding transfers to various bases as a way of placing people where they are “needed” while, at the same time, reducing people in those locations where they are not. We want to be certain there is no confusion. The company is not required to reactivate those in the IVFMP prior to awarding system transfers. If you have additional questions, please let us know.
Wellness Credit for Medical Benefits While on Furlough Status
MEC Benefits Committee
A number of questions have been asked as it pertains to the Wellness Credit ($48) for Medical Benefits that is applied for those who non-smokers are. AFA has been advised of the following clarification:
Flight Attendants on Involuntary Furlough have a special provision by which they are entitled to the Wellness Credit for the first three months of COBRA coverage.
Flight Attendants on Voluntary Furlough are entitled to the Wellness Credit for the duration of the Voluntary Furlough.
In addition, it has been acknowledged that some people may not immediately see the credit. However, if the credit is not visible now, records will be updated on Saturday of this week, retroactively.
Involuntary Furlough Mitigation Program (IVFMP) & Benefits Deductions
MEC Benefits Committee
For those of us who are participants in the IVFMP, we are aware there are a number of questions/issues with the status of Benefit (premium) deductions as well as FSA and Dependent Care deductions. Over the course of the past several days, we have identified these issues to United management and are working to obtain answers to questions as quickly as possible. We have the following updates:
Benefit Premiums for Contractual Benefits
As we reported within the past several weeks, all employees on Involuntary Furlough, Special COLA, Voluntary furlough and IVFMP were to be converted to direct bill status, effective October 1, 2020. The purpose of this change is to eliminate the build up of premium arrears and to provide employees with the assurance their benefit premiums were paid and that coverage would continue uninterrupted.
While everyone remained hopeful for an early in the month extension to the CARES Act, that extension has not materialized. As a result, some of the benefit work was delayed. For those in the IVFMP, the United Benefits Center (UABC) did not receive the status change until October 12, 2020. As a result, to the extent there were earnings, payroll deductions for benefits were taken from both the October 1 & October 16, 2020 paychecks, in error. This is part of the explanation for why people are seeing deductions and, at the same time, receiving billing from the UABC for October benefits.
The UABC will shortly send a refund file to United payroll and a refund will be processed for those from whom premiums were collected. It is anticipated that refunds will be issued via an off-cycle check on or around October 22nd. It is important to keep in mind that these premiums are normally taken on a pre-tax basis and because the refund will represent wages, they will be taxable.
Supplemental Benefits Not administered by UABC
To avoid any confusion, only those benefits administered by the UABC will be converted to direct bill and pay. Those items not administered by the UABC, such as GUL or other supplemental insurance benefits, (i.e. CAIC or Allstate) will continue to be processed as a payroll deduction, to the extent wages are available.
For those in the IVFMP, if you wish to make alternate arrangements for your continued supplemental insurance coverages, please contact Design Benefits or NGP directly.
FSA and Dependent Care Account balances
We have heard from many of you about ongoing concerns with your inability to use FSA & Dependent Care balances and we have received reports from others that FSA & Dependent Care balances have “disappeared.” These are legitimate concerns and we have spent the last part of this week with Benefits and Payroll to determine the source of these irregularities. We will continue to press for a full explanation of what is happening with these funds as well as to press management to address the information and service deficiencies of the UABC in the week ahead.
Vacation Election Period Closed - Next up, First Round Vacation Bidding
Central Schedule Committee
The twenty (20) day period during which Flight Attendants are provided the opportunity to elect Vacation Buy Back, 401(k) deferral and FLEX closed on October 15, 2020. The next step in the annual Vacation bidding process is the opening of first round Vacation Bidding on October 23, 2020. For an overview of the information we need to know for bidding vacations, refer to our Vacation Bidding resource for bidding options and rules,
Updated Crew Bunk Policy – Effective October 15, 2020
Safety, Health & Security
The company, in coordination with the AFA, as well as the Cleveland Clinic, have updated the crew rest policy for aircraft equipped with crew bunk modules, effective October 15, 2020. Please review the highlights of these changes which have been published on our MEC Safety, Health and Security Committee page on our website.
Your Vote is Your Voice: Make it Heard!
MEC Government Affairs Committee
On November 3, our country will place the process of democracy on the world stage. In several states, ballots for the General Election are already being cast in what is no doubt the most important election of our lifetimes. It’s up to all of us to ensure our votes are cast and counted. This election brings unprecedented challenges as we vote amid a global pandemic. We need to be prepared.
Election Day is less than a month away. Through Early or Mail-In Voting, millions of Americans have already cast their vote. Voting is at the core of our democratic way of life and every one of us must ensure we exercise this fundamental right.
Make a Plan to Vote — Determine How you will Vote
Most states have expanded early voting or voting by mail this year due to COVID19.As Flight Attendants, we are not always able to predict our schedules. We may not be able to go to the polls on Election Day. Waiting until the last minute could mean forfeiting your right to vote as certain states have a short early voting timeframe. It’s vital to make a plan to cast a ballot in the 2020 General Election. Get all the election information you need, by state, at: www.Vote411.org/afacwa.
- Confirm you are registered to vote
- Know your options for early voting; early voting dates and times vary by state
- Know how to apply and return an absentee ballot
- Know which polling place you are assigned to and what time the polls open and close
- If you live overseas, go to www.fvap.gov for voting information.
Know Your Voter Rights
If you witness voter disruptions, you can seek assistance from the National non-partisan voter protection hotlines.
- 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) – English language hotline
- 888-Ve-Y-Vota (888-839-8682) – Bilingual English/Spanish language hotline
- 888-API-VOTE (888-274-8683) – Bilingual English, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Bengali, Hindi, Urdu, and Tagalog.
If you need further information on the General Election and voting, you may contact the MEC Government Affairs Committee by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Only you can make sure your vote counts on Election Day. Make your voice heard.
Reminders and Quick Links
October 1 – 31
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
October 19 – 30th
Annual Benefits Enrollment
Link Internal Protection Plan Enrollment Opens
Begin First Round Vacation Bidding Opens
Third Trimester CBT Due
First Round Vacation Bidding Closes by 8:00 AM HDT