Home > News > E-Lines: February 19, 2021

E-Lines: February 19, 2021

Date: February 19, 2021

PSP Extension: Contact Congress Now!

If we know anything about Congressional legislation, it’s that, until it’s signed, it’s not law.  While the consensus is that most lawmakers are generally supportive on providing a PSP extension through September 2021, it’s far from a done deal. Remember that many view Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief effort as “pie,” and there are only so many slices to go around. We have been fortunate to receive the support from lawmakers on the initial and subsequent extension, but that doesn’t mean it’s not scrutinized or opposed by other actors.

The surest way to get the job done is to not be complacent, not let others carry the ball, and to take up the challenge ourselves and move this forward across the finish line. We cannot count on others to protect our jobs, it is our job and our responsibility to act – if not for ourselves, then for our flying partners and our careers.

Make the calls today, tomorrow and every day.

TAKE ACTION: Call, Write Congress

            SENATE: 888-848-4824
            HOUSE: 888-907-9365

"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 >

Make an Impact: PSP Photos

As we reported last Friday, we have a mission:

Taylor – “For the past year I’ve taken an unpaid leave of absence from United Airlines; to avoid getting sick and to save a job for a more junior Flying Partner. The PSP is important to me, not only to help me get through these difficult times financially, but also to help those more junior Flying Partners at my airline, who have already been laid off once. If the PSP passes again, it will help them from losing their jobs and health benefits during this global health crisis. “

Darius -
“Hi, my name is Darius and I’m a relatively junior Flight Attendant who changed careers in 2018, after being with a different company for over 10 years. I found a new career that would allow me to interact more with the public and do something I was passionate about – I became a Flight Attendant! 

“… one of the most valuable perks from our job for me has been my health insurance.  This provided a continuity of care with my previous health care support system, which enabled me to make some important life changes, such as this career.  As we all know, this past year has been a challenge with all that we’ve been required to manage with the pandemic.  Having that care from my health-care support system has been integral to making sense of how to handle all the difficult decisions we’ve all had to face.  Please extend PSP because affordable health insurance is critical on so many levels.”

We want Congress to understand why an extension of the Payroll Support Program (PSP) is so vitally important to each of us, our airline, and our success.

Please send us your photo!  An ideal picture would be you at work, in full uniform and mask compliant.  An alternative could be outside of work, in a private setting, where uniform or mask inclusion are not necessary. Make sure your AFA pin is visible!

Please email your photo and testimonial to pspphotos@unitedafa.org, along with your name and base, to be featured in an upcoming edition of E-Lines and our website (only your first name will be used).  We encourage as many as possible to participate in this effort to help in successfully accomplishing a PSP extension outcome that benefits us all.

Vacation Trades with Voluntary Separation Leave (VSL) Participants Not Permitted

We’ve received a number of questions about the inability to enter into Flight Attendant to Flight Attendant vacation trades with those who have elected to participate in the VSL program.  As has been the requirement, in order to enter into a Flight Attendant to Flight Attendant vacation trade, both Flight Attendants must be active during the vacation periods.  If not, as provided for in Section 12.H.3. of our Contract, any vacation days awarded during the first and second rounds of vacation bidding that are later vacated (e.g., separation, retirement, death) throughout the Scheduled Vacation Year will be made available for trading.

New CDC International Arrival Requirement

This past Wednesday, United published a Scheduling Alert indicting procedures to follow to comply with CDC directives when entering the United States from another country. Some requirements and procedures have been updated.

The CDC requires a negative COVID-19 test, or recovery form, for International travel into the U.S.  Working crewmembers, including deadheading crew, are exempt.  If deviating from a scheduled deadhead (unless traveling PS0), you will not be able to check-in online.  Effective February 17, an exception letter will be available in your content app, in the COVID-19 resources folder, and may be shown to the CSR when deviating from a deadhead or if United has purchased offline tickets on another carrier (for purposes of positioning a crewmember).  You will need to check in at the designated check-in area and provide the letter to the CSR so they may complete your flight check-in process.

Traveling for any other reason: to/from training, commuting or pleasure travel require compliance with the CDC requirements, without the exemption.

International Travel Requirements: Canada

International travel continues to be a moving target. Countries around the world continue to make frequent changes leaving many Members scrambling to keep up with the current customs requirements. 

The most recent changes come from our neighbor to the north, Canada. Canadian officials will continue to require forms be filed in advance of arrival into their country. United has requested that we download the Arrive Canada Application to our Link device and use it as directed when traveling to Canada.

United asks that we use our United email address to sign up and complete the user information, and to verify the application has been properly loaded in the event of a last-minute schedule change.

Failure to complete and submit the form prior to arrival in Canada may result in personal fines as a violation of customs requirements. If you have any questions about international travel you should review location specific information located in the February 7 ISW on FlyingTogether.

Monthly Schedules and the Role of the Local Council Schedule Committee

Each month, your Local Council Schedule Committee faces a challenging task of submitting recommendations which ultimately become the schedules published in the bid package. The process begins with a review of all the flying the company proposes to assign, at each domicile or satellite by our Central Schedule Committee. Our Union’s Central Schedule Committee does not assign flying, create, or build actual pairings, nor decide when any of the pairings will operate during the month. Pairings are created by the company’s optimizer which is programmed using parameters determined by management, based on aircraft schedule, legalities, and base populations all of which must comply with the terms of our Contract.

Once the flying is reviewed for compliance with the Contract, each Local Council Schedule Committee receives all the pairings that are built by the company for their respective geographical location, along with a utilization target that determines the number of lines to be built for that location. Using patterns historically submitted by the Union and accepted by management, the Local Schedule Committee segregates similar types of flying (to the greatest extent possible) assigned to that base as if formulates recommendations. The Local Schedule Committee looks at trip length (i.e., 1-day, 2-days, 3-days, 4-days, etc.), departure/arrival times, and destination. Local Council Schedule Committee Members try to keep the similar types of flying together when creating sequences of flying based on the company’s stipulated number of line holders, utilization, and contractual legalities.

The company determines the amount of flying assigned at each location based on the number of Flight Attendants available at the base as well as the percentage of Lineholders and Reserves. Over time, we have seen extremes from noticeably high line averages (utilization) with few Reserves to lower line averages and an abundance of Reserves. The differences are typically demarked during peak times, (i.e., summer, winter holidays, etc.) and off-peak times (January & February) when the company’s network flight schedule is reduced. 

Keep in mind, the value of the pairings, number of schedules to be built and the utilizations all interact to affect what the monthly bid package ultimately looks like. Aircraft flight schedules change considerably over U.S. holiday periods, over weekends and during mid-week periods when flying is typically less in demand. Outside of international flights, having a pairing operate daily for the entire month is a rarity under United’s fully optimized daily flight scheduling environment. Instead, the pairings change as the aircraft schedule changes and this drives a variety of one-time only transition, exception or holiday pairings which must be included in the development of monthly flight schedules.

When submitting monthly recommendations, the Local Council Schedule Committee attempts to match pairings in a way that provides for a consistent pattern of days on and off throughout the month. This is a very time-consuming process that must be completed within a limited time frame in order to meet the deadline by which schedules must be sent to the printers.  All of this is possible only through the dedication of these committed volunteers.

Given the various pairing values and the parameters set by the company, the Local Council Schedule Committee cannot always build what some might consider a perfect schedule. Pairings may not match, the days off may not be consistent, and “odd” pairings that must be covered may need to be put in some schedules where they might not normally be expected. This is unavoidable given that the Local Schedule Committee must work within the parameters set by both the Company and the Contract.

When recommending sequences of flying, the company is required to accept those recommendations provided what is submitted does not increase the need for Flight Attendants, reduce the utilization or unreasonably worsen the working conditions for more junior Flight Attendants.  Said another way, the Union does not have the latitude to simply build more (or fewer) lines because it might be possible to do so.  Local Schedule Committees are required to meet the targets set by management.  At times, these utilization targets can force the mixing of different types of flying to a greater degree when line averages are low than might otherwise be expected when line averages are high.

It is important that Flight Attendants keep this process in mind when reviewing the monthly schedules and when wondering why that “odd” pairing is placed in what might otherwise be viewed as a perfect schedule. Some of the factors which affect the schedules are generally not under the control of the Local Council Schedule Committee, but our volunteers work diligently to include in the monthly schedules the preferences of the Flight Attendants at the location to the greatest extent possible.

Each month, the Union’s Central Schedule Committee provides reports on the monthly schedule development process detailing the changes and challenges with which Local Schedule Committees are faced in putting together what ultimately becomes the schedules on which we bid.   The reports are available on our website as DSL or SWLOF reports and can be found in the non-public area of our website.

Reserve Timeline Calendar for March (Correction)

Last Tuesday, we published the Reserve Timeline for the March schedule month.  We have made a correction and update to the timeline and calendar on our website.  Please be sure you are using the updated document.

Black History Month – Honoring A. Philip Randolph

During Black History Month, we have been focusing on past and present leaders in the movement to protect and expand the rights of African Americans and working families. As we continue to highlight and educate ourselves about important leaders of the past and those who are continuing the legacy of the strong leaders who laid the foundation on which we build today, we celebrate Mr. A. Philip Randolph.

A. Philip Randolph was one of the greatest black labor leaders in America's history and a key founder of the modern American Civil Rights movement. Throughout his long career, he consistently kept the interests of black workers at the forefront of the racial agenda. Whereas civil rights leaders such as W. E. B. Du Bois argued that the problem of the twentieth century was “the color line,” Randolph concluded that it was the question of the “common man.”

Mr. Randolph was a main figure in the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The march, most widely known for Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, propelled the Civil Rights Act. Being led by Mr. Randolph, this was a combined effort for the civil rights and labor movements.  Moved by the success in the civil rights and labor movement arena, Mr. Randolph and Bayard Rustin founded the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) in 1965 to continue the struggle for social, political, and economic justice for all working Americans. APRI is an organization of black trade unionists that continues fighting today for racial equality and economic justice.

During Black History Month, and every month, it is incumbent on all of us to continue to take the time to honor the role and achievements of African American heroes in United States history.  These icons, such as Mr. Randolph, and many others who were overlooked at the time and continue to be sidelined today, transformed our country and our labor movement and the world in which we all live today.  

Our Union is committed to continuing to build an inclusive, anti-racist workplace where every member feels safe, welcomed, and respected. AFA Black History Month pins are available from your Local Council. We encourage you to wear your AFA Black History Month pin in solidarity as we work to achieve these goals.

Reminder and Quick Links
February 22 – Voluntary Furlough Bids Close
February 23 – Voluntary Furlough Awarded
February 24 – Partner Flying Bids Close and Awarded
February 26 – Notification of Involuntary Furloughs
April 30 – Joe Beirne Scholarship Closes

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