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E-Lines: June 18, 2021

Date: June 18, 2021

COVID-19 Pandemic Temporary Commuter Program Cancelled

The Commuter Program, Section 28 of our Contract, creates the opportunity for us to live where we want to, while at the same time, affording us the opportunity to fly from the base of our choice. 

In some instances, our life circumstances may have changed, and our responsibilities require us to live in a location while we support family or loved ones.  In other instances, our ever-changing life circumstances during the last 15 months have created the need for some of us to become uprooted and relocate.  As flying returns, many of us may now see ourselves in a situation where commuting is our only alternative.

During the past year and based on the reduction in flight schedules at our airline and the realities of the pandemic, AFA and Inflight management shared an understanding of the need to assist Flight Attendants who commute by air.  In cooperation with United management in June 2020, AFA attained a temporary modification to the contract provisions of Section 28.B.4.b. which reduced the number of flights which were required to be available when using the Commuter Program from two to one. 

As our airline continues to recover and United builds back the aircraft schedule, Inflight management and AFA discussed the continuing need for temporary modification given the significantly improved aircraft schedule.  Inflight management has expressed a view that the airline schedule has improved to the point that the circumstances which called for the original modification now no longer exist.  Based on these changes, management sees a path forward to returning to the negotiated provisions of Section 28 and has set July 15, 2021 as the date on which this will become effective.  Consistent with the terms of the Letter of Agreement, United management has provided the Union with the necessary 30-day notice of cancellation.

Effective July 15, 2021, the provisions of Section 28.B.4.b.:

The temporary requirement for Flight Attendants be listed on one (1) flight is no longer permissible and a requirement to be listed for a secondary flight will again be required starting July 15, 2021.  No other provisions of Section 28 were modified.

As a reminder, Members are to keep track of travel records, including PNRs, in the event they have trouble commuting to ensure they have the necessary information to avail themselves of the protections offered by the Commuter Program provisions.

We encourage you to review this Section 28 Contract language and, to contact your AFA Local Council if you have any additional questions about the Commuter Program.

Employee Uniform Appearance Standard Revisions Intended to Modernize and Include

This past week, United management announced revised appearance standards for uniformed, “customer-facing employees,” including Flight Attendants and Customer Service Representatives, that will be revised and effective as of September 1, 2021.  Later this year these modernized standards will apply to other work groups, including pilots, ramp service employees, etc.

United management indicates these changes are specifically intended to “reflect a more modernized look, with inclusive standards that better permit freedom of gender expression so that employees can feel their best at work.”

Kate Gebo, United Airlines’ Human Resources and Labor Relations EVP, describes this change:

“As the face of United, our customer-facing teammates can provide an even better experience for our customers when they look and feel their best. We’ve spent the last several years listening to the feedback we’ve received from our employees and our Business Resource Groups to develop these revised standards. We’re confident that these modernized and more gender-inclusive appearance standards will provide a more authentic representation of the people and cultures that make United the company it is today.”

United will share the full details of these modernized, updated guidelines next month and AFA’s Uniform Committee will provide our understanding of these changes in future communications to the Membership.

In the meantime, management has posted a “sneak peek” on Flying Together, including snapshot pictures which detail some of the updated standards employees might expect. Your MEC Uniform Committee has expressed many of your views to management and has stated that the announcement, absent specific detail on the contemplated changes, will raise more questions than there are answers immediately available. In fact, we are already beginning to hear you have concerns about the ambiguity that exists in the announcement.

Accompanying any change is always a certain level of anxiety about the unknown and this concern is part of human nature.  At this point, our focus should be on the fact that United management has, through this cross divisional effort, worked to incorporate much of the feedback received from employees about the importance of employees being “comfortable” while at work.  At the same time, there has been considerable emphasis placed on the fact that part of that “comfort” comes from looking our professional best and portraying our best, most polished image. 

As Flight Attendants, we are a diverse group of people, and that diversity is what makes us uniquely qualified to not only interact with the public but to be successful in our efforts to bring our customers back – time after time.   That the passengers in our care are able to see themselves in our collective is what makes us relatable to them.  That relationship has value.  In fact, as the work group spending the greatest period of time with them, is the very foundation of our success.

Be assured, your MEC Uniform Committee will remain in close contact with management as these changes roll out.  We will, as we have, fiercely advocate for the interests of the collective with the specific intent of ensuring the personal success of each Flight Attendant in the area of uniform compliance.

June is National Safety Month

June is National Safety Month (NSM), and this year is the 25th anniversary of NSM.  The National Safety Council (NSC) launched National Safety Month in 1996 to promote safe behaviors around the leading causes of preventable injuries and deaths at work, on the roads, and in our communities. 

As Safety Professionals, we live and breathe safety every day.  We know that paying attention to details, following the standard operating procedures and reporting concerns through appropriate channels is how we continue in keeping ourselves and our passengers safe.

The importance of safety and security is already deeply etched into our culture, but constant reminders are always helpful.   In conjunction with Inflight Management, we remind you the safety reporting tools available to you that include:

  • ISAP (Inflight Safety Action Program: “The ISAP program is a long-standing method for reporting safety and regulatory issues and events that may come to your attention.  It is a non-punitive, confidential way to report concerns and is completely voluntary.  Reports can include equipment issues, inadvertent errors, and proactive identification of potential safety concerns.”
  • Flight Attendant Fatigue Report (FAFR): “FAFR is the latest addition to United’s Inflight Reporting Systems.   FAFRs are a means to report concerns of potential fatiguing flights or pairings to decrease safety risks associated with Flight Attendants fatigue.”
  • IOR (Irregular Operations Report): “Flight Attendants are required to submit an IOR documenting any incident involving customers, crewmembers or animals in the cabin that is out of the ordinary and/or may require a follow-up by the company.   The entire flight crew is responsible for filing a report.   This includes, but is not limited to safety, security, medical, regulatory, non-compliance, or pandemic related incidents.  Don’t forget to copy AFA in your report.”

For more information, please contact your Local Council Office on our website.

United Airlines Benefits Center Closed Today, Friday, June 18th

Last year Alight (the Benefits Center) added Juneteenth as an official holiday for Alight and will be closed this year on Friday, June 18th.   Alight employees are encouraged to use the day to volunteer for a social justice program that matters to them. 

A message has been added to their system letting callers know that they will be closed, and callers will hear a “closed for the holiday” message if contacting the United Airlines Benefits Center on Friday, June 18th.  

The United Airlines Benefits Center will resume normal business hours on Monday, June 21st at 7am Central Time.   

You may also visit the website at digital.alight.com/united for additional coverage questions and needs.

Reminders and Quick Links

June – National Safety Month
June - Pride Month
June 19 – Juneteenth
June 20 – Father’s Day
June 25 - August One and Three-Month Special COLAs Submission Deadline
June 25 – 2021 International Purser Recurrent Training Preference Bidding Begins

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