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E-Lines: June 03, 2021 SPECIAL EDITION

Date: June 3, 2021

Vaccination Letter of Agreement

Aviation is critical for vaccine distribution, and the people on the frontlines of aviation need priority vaccination. AFA has called on the federal government to set up vaccination clinics at airports to make it easy for aviation workers to obtain their first and second doses.  Our collective future depends on this.

Consistent with AFA’s advocacy for Flight Attendants to have access to the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as practical, we have reached an Agreement with management on a voluntary program that not only encourages Flight Attendants to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible but also recognizes those who have already received the vaccine. This is a voluntary program that does not require Flight Attendants to be vaccinated.

AFA and United Airlines have a shared priority in getting as many Flight Attendants vaccinated as quickly as possible for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the vaccine provides an additional layer of protection in addition to mask compliance and cleaning process initiatives.  It is anticipated, without advance notice, some countries may begin to require flight crews to be vaccinated.  Having these records in place allows United to meet these requirements quickly and efficiently and maintain a competitive advantage within the industry while ensuring each of us can continue to fly our awarded schedules without interruption.

There should be no confusion about how this Letter of Agreement came about.  The terms of this Letter of Agreement were presented to the United Master Executive Council and the final version of the Agreement incorporates changes that were made based on their feedback.  During a Special Meeting of the United Master Executive Council on Wednesday, June 2, 2021, the Letter of Agreement establishing this voluntary program and the associated incentive was adopted.

Yesterday, the United Master Executive Council met to review, and ultimately approved, a COVID-19 Vaccination Letter of Agreement in which United has agreed that Flight Attendants who meet the vaccination requirements set forth in the Letter of Agreement will receive up to three (3) additional vacation days, each with the value of three hours and fifteen minutes flight time credit (3:15).  These vacations days will be part of our 2022 vacation allocation and will be in addition to vacation accrued under our Contract for 2022.

We want to stress that the vacation days connected through this Vaccination Letter of Agreement are separate and distinct from the contractual vacation accrual process.  Said another way, if you have been awarded Special COLAs or have reduced your flying obligation to the point where you would not have accrued vacation under the Contract, you will still be eligible to receive the additional vacation days provided for under the Letter of Agreement. 

These additional vacation days will provide additional flexibility for each of us based on our individual priorities.  In addition to being used when bidding vacation periods, these days can be used to maximize earnings by taking pay in lieu of vacation through the vacation buy back process, vacation fly through processes or may be contributed to her/his 401(k) Flight Attendant Savings Plan account subject to IRS 401(a)(17) limits.

Our LOA provides that:

  • Flight Attendants, including those on leave of absence returning prior to July 1, 2021, who are fully vaccinated by June 9, 2021 at 2359 CT will have 3 vacation days added to their 2022 accrual, valued at 3:15 per day, for a total of nine hours and forty-five minutes (9:45).
  • Flight Attendants, including those on leave of absence returning before July 1, 2021, who have received their first dose of a 2-dose regimen by June 9, 2021 at 2359 CT and who receives their second dose, according to the manufacturers timing recommendations (if a two-dose regime) will have 3 vacation days added to their 2022 accrual, valued at 3:15 per day, for a total of nine hours and forty-five minutes (9:45).
  • Flight Attendants who receive at least the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine between June 10, 2021 and July 1, 2021 and receive the second dose, if a two-dose regime, according to the manufacturer requirements of the vaccine being administered, shall receive two (2) vacation days, at three hours fifteen minutes (3:15) per day for a total of six hours thirty minutes (6:30), in addition to their 2022 accrual.
  • Flight Attendants on a leave of absence that extends beyond July 1, 2021 but who return to active status by December 31, 2021, shall have an additional fifteen (15) days from returning to active status to obtain the first dose of the vaccine in the vaccination process.  The amount of vacation will be based on the date of vaccination regardless of the flight attendant’s status at the time of receiving the dose.  Any additional vacation will be provided only after returning to active status and receiving first and second dose if a two-dose regime.
  • If you are already fully vaccinated, you must upload your vaccination documentation by June 17, 2021 to be eligible to receive the vaccination incentive. For those fully vaccinated and returning from a leave of absence, you will have fourteen (14) days from your return to active status to upload your vaccination documentation. 
  • If you are already fully vaccinated and have uploaded your vaccination record documentation into MyInfo, no additional steps are required of you.

The terms of the initial agreement were discussed over the course of the last two weeks and additional improvements were incorporated into what is now the final version of the Letter of Agreement.  What was achieved during this period is three times the incentive to American Airlines Flight Attendants and 40% higher than the incentive offered to Delta Airlines Flight Attendants.  By way of comparison, Southwest and Alaska Flight Attendants currently have no incentive program in place.

As you are aware, this past Monday it became known that the pilots had reached a Vaccination Letter of Agreement that is a bit different from ours because it recognized the unique licensing issue whereby the government restricted pilots from the flight deck for the 48-hour period following inoculation.

We reiterate, this program is voluntary.  If, however, you choose not to receive a vaccine or not to upload your records, you will be ineligible to receive the additional vacation days.  United expects us to remain vaccinated, but the LOA does not create a vaccination requirement outside of those established within the framework of our Contract.  However, those who do not upload a record of vaccination, will be ineligible to fly into any country where a vaccination requirement exists and will be ineligible to have trips to those countries dropped with pay protection.

An important note is that while United may not currently require us to be vaccinated, a government may elect to impose such a requirement.  In the event a vaccination requirement was to come about, any Flight Attendant not vaccinated and/or who has not provided documentation to substantiate the vaccination to United would be ineligible to work any flight to a destination in a country where a vaccination requirement exists.

Working with United management we were able to develop a voluntary program to not only incentivize Flight Attendants to become vaccinated but to also recognize those who have already secured the vaccine.  Accomplishing this wasn’t an easy task for anyone involved in these discussions but we remain grateful for the commitment to finding a resolution that serves the interests of all involved.

Please contact your Local Council if you have additional questions. 

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