MEC Central Schedule Committee SWLOF Report
September 15, 2020
Build and Review
The Line Review (SWLOF) meeting for October 2020 line recommendations was held remotely due to the ongoing challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as restrictions imposed by the governor of the State of Illinois; CSC Members Celeste Bouchard, Brian Fleming and Sandy Travis were remotely available for line review & assistance as well as Council 63 Member, Jo Fullerton. CSC Member Shaun-Christopher Washington participated on day two to assist with the Reserve recommendations.
October is a 30-day month beginning Wednesday, September 30, 2020 and ending Thursday, October 29. Line averages at all locations varied markedly between 73:01 and 87:55 domestically, while internationally line averages varied from 72:25 to 87:52. The only location not assigned international flying for the month of October was Denver. All domestic locations and satellites had flying assigned for the month of October.
October Schedule Construction Challenges
During this month’s build and review process, CSC noticed an elevated number of technical issues related to AFLYER. Our Local Schedule Committee member in LHR informed CSC of a situation in which multiple overlapping pairings were not showing the correct prorated and carryover values when the pairings were placed into the lines of flying. The LSC had also alerted the Company and was informed that the IT team had been made aware of the coding defect. Advised that no fix to the defect would be possible this month, a manual workaround was employed to ensure affected pairings and the correct carryover credit times would be used in determining October Line of Flying values.
CSC was also notified on the second day of the Build and Review that one of our Local Schedule Committee members in LAX had major technical issues with her case and all work had been lost. She had completed building approximately100 lines of flying and was being very cautious to save frequently. Unfortunately, during the final moments of her eight-hour session, she received a red caution message from AFLYER. When she signed back on to AFLYER, all of the lines she had recommended had disappeared. CSC reached out to the Company and gave the details of the scenario, but the IT group could only trace back to an empty case with no past history. We were discouraged to learn that the “AutoSave” function appeared to have failed as well. This was very disheartening for the LSC volunteer and CSC. After a detailed conversation with the LSC Member, she started the process over and was able to complete recommendations by the deadline. We are still waiting to hear back from the Company on potential reasons for the defect. We have asked the Company to reach out to this LSC Member to get every bit of information possible to ensure this is avoided in the future for all LSCs.
We also continue to get reports of duplicate pairings being placed in multiple lines. This month CSC was notified of this scenario in EWR, ORD and LAX and it required the LSCs and CSC to correct the problems. We continue to stress the importance of using the recommended web browsers, as well as not opening multiple browsers when using AFLYER during the process of creating recommendations.
When LSCs started turning in cases to the Company, we received a communication regarding the Company’s concern about our Honolulu Local Schedule Committee members building more lines than the Company had requested. The specific situation HNL encountered this month was that the optimizer was forcing a large number of low value pairings into HNL, according to the company, to achieve cost savings regarding hotels. A further complication for the LSC in HNL was having a conflict caused by a large number of pairings operating on the same dates.
Initial discussions with the Company resulted in the company making a decision to leave many of these low time pairings in open time, the values of which would be applied toward the open time requirements in Section 7.G.1. After our DSL Review and subsequent meeting with the company, CSC had follow-up conversations with both Council 14 and our reporting MEC Officer to plan the best course of action. CSC then again approached the company and after further discussion with the Company, the quota was revised upward to provide for six (6) additional Line Holder positions, while still maintaining the contractually required amount of open time to meet the contractual three (3) hours per primary line holder target set forth in Section 7.G.1. for self-adjustments and trading. This decision will most likely affect the ability to award additional Special COLAs at the HNL domicile.
Reserve Schedule Development Challenges
During the first day of Build and Review, (Tuesday September 8th), it became clear to CSC there were significant issues regarding the Reserve targets that were set for RSV cases. Discussions were initiated with the company. After a cursory review of a sample of the case sizes, sub-bases, and geographic locations, it became clear that the Reserve targets and parameters would need to be re-worked system-wide. Following a conversation with the Reserve analyst, Sr-Manager of Manpower Planning and the Chairperson of CSC, it was determined that a notification would need to be sent out that all Local Schedule Committee Members submitting Reserve schedules advising them to temporarily stop for the day while the company and Union jointly reviewed the system parameters. Tim Wilson sent a notification from the company followed by a mirrored communication from the Chairperson of CSC. Ultimately, Build and Review (SWLOF) was extended by one day. CSC then spent the remainder of the day on a conference call with the company to review the system settings accurately matched the company’s targets. New targets and cases were sent out to all LSCs after verifying everything was loaded into the ResPlan system.
As a reminder when your solutions are complete and ready to send to the company please make sure that you are titling them as “LSC FINAL”. There have been some instances of confusion when the Local Schedule Committee sends in their recommendations without the solution name as “LSC FINAL”. To prevent delays in processing your recommendations and to eliminate the possibility of Crew Schedule Planning pulling and publishing the wrong solution, please name your case as “LSC FINAL”
Additionally, CSC and Crew Schedule Planning have had conversations about the best way for each LSC to indicate which lines contain trips that are to be designated to seed open time. As a reminder, the LSCs are requested to send in their recommendations with the lines allotted for open time adjustments locked and located at the bottom (last lines) of the package. As an additional clarification, we also strongly recommend that you state which lines you are planning to allocate for open time adjustments in the comments section when you finalize your case; doing so will speed up the completion of your recommendations.
CSC and Crew Schedule Planning mutually understand spreadsheets will no longer be sent automatically to the LSCs for Reserve cases of seven (7) or fewer lines. However, the practice has been preserved. If you wish to receive a spreadsheet for cases of seven (7) lines or less, please email, MaryFran.Oates@united.com.
When importing your spreadsheets into RESPlan, please ensure all of the spreadsheet boxes have been filled in with one of the following characters: R, X, or *. If any of the boxes, when loaded, do not contain one of these characters, you will encounter an error loading of your information into RESPlan.
Note: Single day off patterns should now be accepted in all locations. If there are any questions, please contact your CSC Representative.
If meeting the 3+ targets becomes difficult, check the company’s solution to see if they have indeed met their own targets. This can be done by selecting the notepad with a small eye in the lower right-hand corner of the picture. If the company’s solution does not meet their own requirements, please contact CSC immediately.
Lastly, there continue to be instances where the spreadsheets are being sent to LSCs with incorrect information, such as longest trip length, which will affect the selection of patterns used and how fresh starts are calculated. CSC has also been advised of errors where the spreadsheet information (such as targets) differ from that which is loaded into ResPlan. It is imperative that you evaluate the spreadsheets sent to you to ensure their accuracy; we STRONGLY advise that you do so as close to the time you receive them due to the shorter time frame to submit Reserve recommendations. Should you run into issues, please contact Mary Fran Oates (MaryFran.Oates@united.com) and copy CSC on any e-mail communication so that we can assist you in your efforts
All locations experienced an increase in the total number of reserves. As previously reported, the company is seeking to maximize their costs savings. All of the reserve lines were constructed with sixteen (16) days off with four (4) restorable days. With more than fifty percent (50%) of the population restoring their days to twelve (12) days off, the Association continues to advocate for a greater percentage of lines to be built at twelve (12) days off.
As a reminder the contract allows for reserves to restore some or all days even if they did bid for specific lines:
Section 8.I: “No later than three (3) days prior to the schedule change, a Reserve who was assigned a line with the number of days off exceeding the monthly applicable minimum may, at her/ his option, contact Crew Scheduling to be assigned additional days of availability and have her/his Reserve guarantee adjusted. Crew Scheduling shall add days of Reserve Scheduling Procedures 99 availability to restore the Reserve’s minimum days off, per Paragraph I.1.a. above. Crew Scheduling shall consider the Flight Attendant’s preference as to which day(s) of availability to restore.”
During the August Build and Review period and given the close in development of the schedule to the actual operation, the Company addressed the need for the LSCs building Reserve schedules to ensure designation of the required restorable days off, commonly designated as “+” days, not be placed at the beginning of a Reserve line in order to avoid both the 1 in 7 legality and the 24 in 7 FAR. For August, the Company has continued to place restrictions in allowing restorable days to be placed at the beginning of a Reserve line. The Union has objected to these restrictions as there is a specific provision of the Contract that provides Flight Attendants with the ability to waive a 1:7. The 24 in 7 FAR can be satisfied by either a 24-hour period off at home or on a layover that provides a period of 24 hours free from duty. Additionally, with the increase in the number of Reserves available systemwide, we don’t anticipate coverage issues. We ask that you submit your traditional patterns and if the company objects to the placement of “+” days at the beginning of the month, please bring these rejections to the attention of Central Schedule Committee. CSC has forwarded the issue to the MEC officers where it is being addressed with the Director of Crew Schedule Planning.
CSC reminds all LSCs, given the Company’s current interest in building Reserve lines having more than the contractual minimum (12) days off, placement of the “+” designator in those lines so affected is essential. These “+” must be placed on the Reserve schedule where the restored day off can be attached to an existing block of Reserve days of availability or at the end of the month; the only exception would be in lines of fifteen (15) or sixteen (16) days off, where blocks of three (3) or four (4) restorable days can be placed together and not create short blocks.
For those Reserve cases having more than fourteen (14) lines, please include a full set of seven lines that will provide consistent “same day of the week off” in each line, including a line with all weekends off. Please ensure that restorable days are not used to create your pattern. Your pattern should stand on it’s own without the restoration of available days. Additionally, duplicate lines are acceptable as long as the “set” days in each set of lines are different.
When constructing recommendations that include widebody domestic and/or international flying, be mindful of mixing positions. This is especially true when constructing LQ lines. Priority should always be given to keeping like trips and positions together to the extent utilization and trip availability make is possible. Doing so supports the position bidding provisions of our Contract.
We continue to remind Crew Schedule Planning that any changes to pairings (whether assigned or otherwise) must be brought to the attention of and reviewed with CSC before the DSL is transmitted to the Local Schedule Committees. We encourage the Local Schedule Committees to review the DSL carefully when you receive it. If you see unusual changes in the pairings typically assigned at your domicile, such as charter trips, and question the pairing, please bring your questions and concerns to CSC.
Due to difficulties in obtaining governmental approval. Flying to some China locations from EWR & SFO were postponed due to lack of approval by the Chinese government. These changes came at the end of the build process and it required some lines to be destructed and rebuilt.
CSC reminds all Local Schedule Committees of the proper application of Section 6.P. of the Contract (the international 1-in-7 rule) in the construction of line recommendations. While 1-in-7 can be satisfied as ‘One (1) 24-hour period free from duty at an away from domicile point’ it has been the long-standing practice of the Association to ensure, unless mathematically impossible, that all line recommendations include at least one (1) calendar day off at home in every seven days. Please do not back-up trips that eliminate the possibility of one (1) calendar day free from duty at home (in seven days). If you find it impossible to do so, please contact a Member of CSC immediately, so we can assist in working out an alternate solution.
Relief lines should also be constructed observing one (1) calendar day off in seven at home – please continue to review your relief lines for compliance. In addition, relief lines of flying should be built using all flying that becomes open after the award of primary schedules – including any language qualified flying. Please monitor your relief lines to ensure language relief lines are being constructed consistent with the requirements of the Contract.
Please continue to submit lines pure and in pattern as a priority. Consideration should be given to the value of the trip pairing as well as to the utilization average, as set by the company, in determining the pattern used in making your legal recommendations. Please contact a Member of Central Schedule Committee if you have questions or membership concerns specific to your domicile.
Day at a Time Vacation (DATV)
As a reminder, Section 12.J. of the Contract provides that each Flight Attendant may take up to ten (10) days a year separate from their awarded vacation period(s). These Day at a Time (DATV) will be deducted from the Flight Attendant’s allotment from the following year’s vacation. After the award of relief lines, and before the beginning of the month, day at a time vacation (DATV) will be awarded in seniority order. Throughout the month DATV days will be available to the extent that regular personal drops are available; DATV days have equal priority.
The company has indicated transfers are anticipated for November in the event the CARES Act is not extended. The process may start soon and there would be several rounds of transfers as management works to clear the lists to several locations to help with the necessary rebalancing of staffing with the potential furloughs, both voluntary and involuntary and the IVFMP programs.
The timeline for the construction of the November 2020 Schedules was not available at the time of publication of the SWLOF report. As information becomes available, we will communicate this to all Local Schedule Committees.
The scheduled guests for the upcoming DSL meetings are:
October - SFO November - EWR December- ORD