E-Lines: February 09, 2021
February 9, 2021
Our Mission – A PSP Extension
We have a mission. It’s singularly focused and it will require our collective commitment. Our goal - to #ExtendPSP through September 30, 2021. As we learned from the lessons of last year, it’s not over until it’s law. Keeping up our calls and letters to Congress is the key to our success!
TAKE ACTION: Call, Write Congress
"Hello, I am a constituent calling to ask [Representative] /[Senator] to help save my job as an essential worker. Pass COVID Relief and extend the Payroll Support Program for essential aviation workers through September 2021. Keep us connected to our jobs, our paychecks, and our healthcare. Thank you for your urgent attention to this."
Write Congress to #ExtendPSP >
p.s.: Aviation is critical for vaccine distribution, and the people on the frontlines of aviation should be prioritized for the vaccine to assist in public health efforts. Write a letter to your governor and ask that Flight Attendants be included in Tier 1b >
Black History Month – The Passing of Former Chicago Teacher's Union President Karen LewisAFA and the Chicago Teacher’s Union have rich history of supporting each other and standing together in solidarity and this was especially the case under Ms. Lewis’s tenure at the CTU. During some of the most tumultuous years at our airline, while under Ms. Lewis’s leadership, our brothers and sisters at CTU assisted us in increasing external awareness of our issues and challenges. In a similar way, AFA supported and walked with Ms. Lewis as she led her union during a strike in 2012, the first such action from the teachers in decades. As a result of this solidarity, their union won salary increases and improved protections for teachers. Please read our full article.
Our hearts are heavy this week as we join our brothers and sisters from the Chicago Teacher's Union and share in their loss as we learn of the passing of former Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Karen Lewis on February 8, 2021.
Perils of Social Media
In the past we have shared with our Members the issues that stem from social media and the adverse impact information shared on these platforms can have when the negative far outweighs the positive. Flight Attendants frequently take to social media channels in an effort to find out vital and sometimes time sensitive information about company issues. Regrettably, information shared via social media is not always accurate. We have seen a recent surge in Members receiving misinformation from their well-intentioned colleagues.
Recently we became aware of one Member who had been on the Voluntary Furlough and had disconnected from all things United out of personal choice to get away from the ups and downs of the pandemic. Through social media they learned of the furlough recall process and turned to their colleagues on social media as their source of information. Unfortunately, much of the information they received was inaccurate or incomplete. This Member turned to social media when they should have turned to their Union. Our Union elected representatives and volunteers are there to support you with issues, big and small, and while social media may satisfy a need for an immediate answer, the potential for that answer to be wrong far outweighs the benefits of the speed at which it may be received.
In addition to the issue of misinformation, we are collectively having to deal with personal posts and comments that are landing Flight Attendants in disciplinary hearings. We must all be aware that social media provides no guarantee of anonymity or privacy. When you post you should assume the company will see it. Even on the most private and secure pages it only takes one person taking your personal post the wrong way and sending a screen shot to management to find yourself pulled form service becoming the subject of a corporate investigation.
Corporate United is watching. Every time they release a controversial statement, they are monitoring social media to see how members respond. They are looking for division within our workgroup to exploit and weaken our resolve. No, we will not all agree on every issue. But when we take to social media to express our disappointment or anger, we are giving the company exactly what they need to take more and more away from us. Make no mistake John Slater’s “disappointment” this past Friday was a direct attack on our representational democracy and, ultimately, our membership.
Our message to John is consistent with what we’ve always said; the United MEC is the elected representative of our Members and has an obligation, in fact, a duty to represent when making decisions consistent with the will of the Membership and the enforcement of our Contract. The recent decision of the United MEC not to pursue an IVFMP was made only after thoughtful, deliberate debate - unanimously. As in any decision there will be those who may disagree. At the end of the day, respecting the Union leadership responsible for representing the Members is the ultimate showing of respect.
We recognize that social media isn’t going anywhere and many of you will continue to use it. However, you need to be aware of the dangers it exposes you to, as an individual, as a community and to our career. It should be clear that there should be no expectation of privacy when posting anything on social media. Any showing of disunity, rather than working toward our common goals, accomplishes the exact opposite and only provides management with an unfair advantage.
EAP/Professional Standards First
This past year has led to an unprecedented amount of stress for Flight Attendants on the line. Through the pandemic Flight Attendants were some of the first impacted by COVID-19. Despite these risks, in our role as safety professionals we continued to operate and ensure passengers were safely transported. Each day new updates were released; safety protocols were enhanced. Through the entire time, we continued to adjust and meet the needs of the traveling public.
The changes in the air were nothing compared to the reality on the ground. We watched as family and friends contracted the virus. We watched unemployment lines wrap around the block and in many cases, we joined the lines ourselves. Ultimately, we successfully came together and fought for not one, but two PSP extensions despite our daily wondering if it would be our last flying.
Flight Attendants are inherently social and compassionate people. We come together and, in times of need, we are usually the first to offer a helping hand. When we take our stress to social media, we risk having our words/message being misconstrued. Sarcasm does not translate on social media and threads and easily spin out of control and take on a life of their own.
Should you encounter something that concerns or upsets you, your first call should be to AFA Employee Assistance/Professional Standards Program (EAP). AFA and ALPA Professional Standards Committees provide our members a confidential space to discuss and resolve conflicts and concerns between Flight Attendants, pilots and other employees. Once an issue is taken to management, we lose control of the issue. All parties are at risk of investigation and discipline and the outcome is rarely what we might anticipate. If members use Professional Standards instead, no one’s employment is in harm’s way for a misunderstanding, a bad work day, or an insensitive comment.
Together, our dedicated group of EAP/Professional Standards peer professionals ask each of us to help spread the word; Contact your Professional Standards Committee first. Working and resolving our issues between ourselves, we can be our best.
ISAP VS. IOR
As Flight Attendants we have a unique perspective. As aviation’s first responders we are trained to monitor and address situations throughout the course of our workday. The reports we file documenting our experiences and how they were responded to provide information necessary to make positive changes to our industry and to advance safety initiatives.
The two forms of reporting we utilize are ISAP (Inflight Safety Action Report) and IOR (Irregular Operations Report). The ISAP program reinvigorated at United Airlines in October of 2019. The ISAP program provides Flight Attendants with a non-punitive and confidential resource to report a safety hazard or inadvertent violation of company polices or FARs (Federal Aviation Regulations).
An IOR is used to document any incident involving customers or crew members that is out of the ordinary and may require follow-up by the company or the FAA. Knowing which report to file ensures Flight Attendants are protected and that the provided information is directed to the correct review committees.
ISAP Report Examples
- Non-compliant LINK device
- Incorrect Placarding
- Failing to complete an exit row briefing prior to push back
- Missing or incorrect safety equipment
- Forgetting to disarm a door after arrival that is corrected by another Flight Attendant (i.e near miss)
- Passenger drinking from their own supply
- Medical Emergencies
- Smoking on board
All ISAP Reports are reviewed by the Event Review Committee (ERC) weekly. The ERC is made up of representatives from the AFA MEC Safety, Health & Security Committee, United Airlines representatives, and Representatives from the FAA. This ensures a transparent and thorough review by all included parties.
Flight Attendants are encouraged to review the ISAP Inflight Action Safety Program and utilize the reporting process appropriately to drive any needed changes to our safety culture.
Solidarity - Amazon Workers Unionize
Monday February 7, the National Labor Relations Board mailed ballots to 5,805 Amazon workers at the Amazon Alabama facility. The outcome of the vote will determine if the workers want the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union to represent them. This is a historic first step for advancing the labor agenda and improving the working conditions of thousands of employees.
If the organizing drive is successful, this could spark a chain reaction to unionize the 400,000 operational staff at the hundreds of Amazon location across the nation. We, alongside our sisters and brothers across the country know first-hand the benefits and protections of our Union. WE decide our priorities, and we come together and negotiate with management making the improvements we need to see.
Despite the Union Strong push, Amazon management is not going quietly. They are fueling a massive anti-union agenda and pressuring workers against voting “YES”. Even before the pandemic the company faced accusations of poor working conditions, including inadequate bathroom breaks, overheated facilities and overly aggressive performance targets for workers. The often times impossible standards lead many workers to face discipline or even termination. The Alabama facility employees are predominantly African American. RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum said, “We see this as much as a civil rights struggle as a labor struggle”.
We stand in solidarity with the workers at Amazon and will fight with them for their right to representation.
COVID-19 Vaccination UpdateWhile the release of the COVID-19 Vaccine is a ray of hope, the slow wheels of the bureaucracy in some states has left many Flight Attendants scrambling for an appointment. Most states have moved to vaccine distributions at Tier 1b which includes Flight Attendants. However, many members have voiced difficulty in securing an appointment or run into issues where their state has not yet begun to vaccinate Flight Attendants.
Unfortunately, since our last update on January 26 not much has improved. There is still not a single source providing appointments / scheduling and information is difficult to acquire.
Flight Attendants who live in a state different from that in which they are based, may be able to receive the vaccine in the state where they are based (provided the state has moved on to Tier 1b and is including Flight Attendants in that tier). When looking for an open appointment check both your state of residence and your state where you are based. If you are successful and book an appointment, make sure to bring you crew badge, a valid form of identification (Driver’s License, Passport) and the company provided eligibility letter identifying you as an essential worker.
We will continue to update vaccine information as it becomes available to us.
Union Plus – Free College & Degree Completion Programs
The Union Plus Free College Program provides Union Members with college classes at little to no cost to the member. Spring semester enrollment is now open with classes starting March 29. This is an excellent opportunity for Flight Attendants to pursue higher level education.
In addition to the vast list of courses offered, the program now includes; a Health Services degree, which is designed for students interested in nursing or another allied health specialty,
Bachelor’s Degree Completion has added a second program under its Teacher Education degree, an Intervention Specialist program is now offered in addition to the existing Early Education (Pre-K - Grade 5) program and the Teacher Education – Intervention Specialist degree is available with the next term, which starts on March 15.
In addition to the Free College programs, Eastern Gateway Community College (EGCC) offers an array of other degree programs with no cost for tuition and fees for College students, but the costs of books and other material may not be covered. Learn more about the available programs.
Reminder and Quick Links
February 16 – VSL Program Closes
February 16 – March Special COLA Closes
February 22 – Voluntary Furlough Bids Close
February 23 – Voluntary Furlough Awarded
February 24 – Furlough Mitigation Partnership Flying Bids Close and Awarded
February 26 – Notification of Involuntary Furloughs