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E-Lines: July 07, 2020

Date: July 7, 2020

TAKE ACTION TODAY: Tell Congress to Extend the CARES Act Payroll Support Program
MEC Government Affairs Committee

We are calling for a six-month aviation Payroll Support Program extension through March 31, 2021, to protect our jobs, extend the restrictions on stock buybacks, dividends, and executive compensation, and maintain service to all our communities. All of aviation labor is standing together to call on Congress to pass a clean extension of the Payroll Support Program before their summer recess at the end of July. Waiting until September for this action is too late because October planning will be done and hundreds of thousands of workers will already be told they are out of work.

We Need Urgent Action Now!

Sign this letter to your Representative and Senators

More Importantly Call Congress

Call your Representative and Senators: Flight Attendants, family and friends should make three calls every day. Two to the Senate line and one to the House line.

House: 888-907-9365

Senate: 888-848-4824

Sample Script:

“Hello, I am a constituent calling to ask [Representative] / [Senator Name] to help save my job as an essential worker. Take legislative action in July to extend the CARES Act Payroll Support Program for aviation workers in order to avoid massive job loss in October. Keep us connected to our jobs, our paychecks, and our healthcare. Thank you for your urgent attention to this matter.”

Tell 5 flying partners, your family and friends to do the same! Time is running out and we need to act immediately!

A Review of Reserve Pool Minimum Levels
MEC Reserve Committee

The “Minimum Level” (LVL) shown in the Reserve pool is defined as the minimum number of Reserves the company has determined to be necessary for each operational day at a given base or sub-base once all known open assignments have been covered. Generally, these numbers will be set highest on the first and last several days of the bid month, as well as around any holidays. Throughout the rest of the month, numbers are generally set the lowest on weekdays, while weekend days see levels set slightly higher.

From month to month, these numbers can fluctuate based on the amount of flying assigned to the base or sub-base, along with considerations for typical weather patterns, holidays, etc. For example, levels may be set higher in summer months to match the increased flight schedule and thunderstorm activity, then lower in the fall and winter months when the flight schedule decreases.

With the significant reduction to United’s flight schedule over the past few months due to the reduced demand for air travel in the wake of COVID-19, we have seen the minimum Reserve levels set significantly lower than what has been historical levels. As United builds back the flight schedule gradually to meet rising demand, it is reasonable to expect that the minimum Reserve levels will likewise increase. Such was the case for the July bid month when compared to June. Using the ORD-FA base as an example, the minimum Reserve level was set at 35 for the end of June. At the beginning of July, the level rose to 80, corresponding to the amount of flying assigned to the base, which had doubled from the previous month, as a direct result of United’s building back our airline’s schedule.

If you have additional questions regarding the minimum Reserve levels that have been set at your base or if you note levels that seem to be significantly out of sync with the amount of scheduled flying, expected weather, etc., please contact your Local Council Reserve Committee for assistance in researching the issues driving the changes you see.

Refer to the MEC Reserve Committee page on www.unitedafa.org for additional information.

Voluntary Separation Program (VSP2) final extension: Apply by July 15

United’s Voluntary Separation Program (VSP2) provides an array of benefits for employees who may want to consider a voluntary exit from the company before the announcement of any potential furloughs or reductions in force. While United management has made it clear that this will be the company’s most valuable offer for those who might be considering leaving United in the near future, the final extension to the deadline for application has been extended until July 15, 2020 with the last day worked being July 29, 2020.

The VSP program is now open for employees in the following groups in the U.S., Guam and Puerto Rico:

  • Flight Attendants (including Internationally based Flight Attendants)
  • Dispatchers
  • Catering Operations employees
  • IAM-represented employees
  • IBT-represented employees
  • Management and Administrative (M&A) employees

As we have previously told you, this VSP is different from the original VSP offered by United in that eligible frontline employees will receive a custom-tailored email providing an overview of the program with the associated links to the program details, FAQs, inquiry form and application form in Help Hub, along with other resources. 

The application window for United’s Voluntary Separation Program for frontline employees has been extended until July 15, 2020 and closes on at 23:59:59 US Central Time that day.

It cannot be stressed enough that the company’s VSP2 offer is highly personalized based on individual employee factors such as work group, retirement eligibility, years of service and more.  To ensure your full understanding of the VSP offer, refer to Help Hub for the details and FAQs that are relevant to you. Help Hub should be your go-to resource for any questions about the VSP.  Additionally, a copy of your personalized offer can also be obtained from the Fidelity™ website at www.401k.com

WARN Act Notices Defined and What they mean if received

As we are all aware, the impact of COVID-19 has created perhaps the most disruptive financial crisis in the history of commercial aviation. Management has worked aggressively to manage the crisis and mitigate the impact on the company by cutting costs across all areas of the business, actively seeking and ultimately receiving government support while, at the same time, borrowing billions of dollars to maintain corporate liquidity levels to support our company.  All of these efforts are crucial to the company’s survival and have stalled the most severe impacts of this crisis on employees through additional voluntary programs.  

At the same time, senior management has clearly annunciated that on October 1st, it will be critically important to size the airline to passenger demand and to reshape the workforce of our airline to also meet that demand for travel. Regrettably, recent news indicates that the impact of COVID-19 continues to adversely impact any strides we are making in rebuilding the once robust schedule of our airline.

In recent internal communications addressing the extension of the VSP2 for frontline workers, there have been references to the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act or “WARN Notices”.  Under certain circumstances these notices can be legally required to be provided to employees before an employer can implement certain significant reductions in force or involuntary furlough.

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) is a federal statute that provides protection to workers and their families by requiring employers to provide 60 days’ notice in advance of certain involuntary actions, including potential plant closings and mass layoffs if management has a reasonable expectation that they may be affected by an employment loss in certain locations based on information available at the time.  

The way potentially affected employees receive their message is different depending on where they work. Potentially impacted frontline employees based in California, Illinois, New Jersey and New York will receive written notification should the company trigger WARN at their specific work location due to their state statutes.  The WARN Notice for employees in other states will be provided, in writing, to the unions representing each employee group.

It is very important that everyone understands that simply because you received a WARN notice, it does not mean that your job has been eliminated.  What it does mean is that the company has a reasonable expectation that your job may be affected by an involuntary furlough based on the information available at the time the WARN notice is issued.

Participation of employees in voluntary programs will help to reduce the number of involuntary furloughs.  Unionized employees who will be furloughed will be notified consistent with the terms of the Contract under which they work.

For those individuals who have elected to participate in the VSP2 and who have completed the process to participate in the VSP, you should be confident in your decision and understand that your decision takes precedence over the WARN notice which does not apply to you.

If you have additional questions about a WARN Notice, we strongly encourage you to seek accurate information from your Local Council.  Let’s continue to avoid rumor and speculation, avoid social media and make a commitment to yourself that you will obtain information from the official Union source – www.unitedafa.org.

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