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Vacation Accrual Letters Available – Addressing Leave of Absence Reductions

Date: September 26, 2020

As you may already have seen, Vacation Accrual Letters were made available yesterday in CCS. 

These Vacation Accrual Letters advise Flight Attendants of the following information:

  • Your vacation accrual seniority date as of August 29, 2020
  • Your 2021 base vacation accrual determined by your vacation accrual seniority date
  • Your paid activity, by each quarter in the 2019 - 2020 Vacation Accrual Year to be used in determining
  • Your vacation accrual for the 2021 Vacation year, which may be reduced by any Leaves of Absence
  • Your 2021 vacation accrual days and hours

Based on these letters, despite having met the flight time metric (120 hours) each quarter, some Members noticed that their vacation accrual had been reduced and, based on their prior experience with Special COLAs where this reduction was not applied, are questioning the reduction.

In April of this year, the Union wrote to management to identify contradictions in the information that was being disseminated regarding Special COLAs. In the Special COLA packets, the company was advising Flight Attendants that Special COLAs may impact Vacation accrual and may reduce your vacation accrual. In other cases, Members reported the Vacation Team had previously advised them that Special COLAs were “non-reducible” leaves of absence.

The Union communicated to the Membership an awareness there were some contradictions in the information being disseminated as well as its understanding of how Vacation accrual had been impacted by Special COLAs in 2019 and contacted management for clarification.

United management researched the issue and acknowledged that Special COLAs had not reduced vacation in 2019 as a result of a processing error. As a result, some Members had received more in vacation accrual for 2020 than they should have under the agreement. While not recovering that additional vacation, management pointed out the language of the Section 12.A.8. of the Contract which provides for a 1/12th reduction in vacation for each thirty (30) days of leave (or major portion thereof on a prorated basis) and that the Special COLA packets did contain the correct information about vacation reductions.

Having acknowledged an error was made, the company communicated clearly, despite the error, it was never its intent nor had the company in any way agreed, to alter the language in this same Section of the Contract. It was an error. Management, through the monthly Special COLA communications, believes they clearly communicated they would be applying the contract as negotiated.

Over the course of time that ensued, given the effects of the pandemic and the efforts of Flight Attendants to assist the company in reducing payroll, AFA has advocated for the company not to reduce vacations. Ultimately, as is shown in the Vacation Accrual Letters, despite our advocacy, the current financial circumstances in which the company finds itself does not create an environment where management is able to absorb the cost of not reducing vacation accrual. 

Consistent with the information that has been published in each Special COLA Information packet, a Special COLA will reduce vacation accrual by 1/12th for each thirty (30) days of leave or major portion thereof on a prorated basis. 

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