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AFA Debrief: May 23, 2023

Date: May 23, 2023

AFA Debrief – May 23, 2023

·      AAPI Heritage Month

·      The New Uniform

·      AFA Resources for Typhoon Mawar

·      Combined Duty Period Programming Resumes

·      AFA Voluntary Supplemental Benefits Enrollment Closes May 26, 2023!

·      July 2023 Special COLA

AAPI Heritage Month

As we approach the end of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, we can’t help but reflect upon the diverse range of cultures and communities that make up the AAPI diaspora. Throughout this month, we have celebrated and recognized the contributions and achievements of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Despite these many contributions, disparities in visibility and representation among different AAPI communities continue.

It is no secret that countries like Japan and China often take center stage in our daily cultural references. From popular media communications to food and fashion, these larger, more populous countries have become ingrained in our collective consciousness. While it is essential to acknowledge and appreciate the richness of the heritage and contributions of these larger communities, recognition of the communities on the smaller islands within the AAPI umbrella receive significantly less attention and we must continually direct our efforts in raising awareness of the value these communities bring to our world community.

Places like Guam and the Hawaiian Islands, which hold their own unique cultures and histories, often find themselves overshadowed by the larger nations surrounding them. The cultural contributions and stories of these islands are equally significant and deserving of recognition. However, due to their relatively smaller populations and geographic isolation, their independent narratives tend to be marginalized or, at times, overlooked.

This discrepancy in recognition not only perpetuates stereotypes but also prevents us from fully appreciating the diversity within the AAPI community. By elevating the voices and experiences of these lesser-known islands, we can gain a better understanding of what it means to be AAPI.

In order to bridge this gap, it is crucial that we actively seek out and share the stories and achievements of these smaller islands and their communities. One way we can start by is reviewing the Library of Congress website to gain a better understanding of local artists, writers, and activists who are working tirelessly to preserve and share this cultural heritage.

As we close out AAPI Heritage Month next week, let’s commit to creating a more inclusive society that celebrates the entirety of the AAPI community. By recognizing the contributions of smaller islands, we can all truly embrace the diversity and richness that lies within the AAPI diaspora and, as a result, give these smaller communities the recognition they rightly deserve.

Together, we can work towards a future where every AAPI individual feels seen, heard, and valued. In the meantime, we need to continue to strive for a society that embraces the vast arena of Asian American and Pacific Islander cultures, no matter their size or visibility.

The New Uniform

Last week, management unveiled updated information on the company's website, announcing the start of wear test phase 3 to begin the end of this summer.  The release of the uniform designs generated significant interest on social media and raised questions and concerns as captured in e-mails.

Section 30.K. of the Contract establishes the requirement for the company to provide advance notice to the MEC President when the company intends to update the uniform and/or accessories.  Once that occurs, our MEC President or designee, in this case the MEC Uniform Chairperson, is invited to meet with the company throughout the planning and changeover process and is afforded the opportunity to make recommendations.

Since March 2020, AFA has been invited to review the company's plan and has worked to ensure that the uniform fabrics selected meet the functional demands of the Flight Attendant profession in terms of fit and function. Throughout the process, AFA made several recommendations regarding color, fabric, uniform items, and accessories. As part of the comprehensive recommendations, we pressed for the involvement of those who will wear the uniforms every day, on every flight; that is, to ensure Flight Attendant feedback drove the decision making in fabric selection and design. While we were given opportunities to provide input during the redesign process, not all of our recommendations were adopted but with the involvement of Flight Attendants, changes were ultimately incorporated into the uniform design.

As a result of our recommendations and the body of work that has been completed to this point, all efforts have been directed at the design of a uniform that provides a cohesive, inclusive look for all employees while providing the required differentiation of other work groups.  The intent is for a modern, timeless uniform that offers quality, durability, and comfort but that is, above all else, safe for us to wear in the environment of the aircraft.

Section 25.E. of our Contract details the company’s obligation to replace all uniform items in the event of a style change at no cost to Flight Attendants.  Section 25.C. establishes the components of the traditionally male and female uniform that are required under the Contract and clearly establishes the “distinctly different” requirement for all other personnel not on the System Seniority list. However, optional items that are not required to be obtained by Flight Attendants are not included in the no cost replacement.

This next wear test (WT 3), unlike the last wear test, will occur during the summer & early fall seasons in the United States and Europe.  It will provide an opportunity to test the fit and function when there are warmer and variable temperatures, ultimately giving us an opportunity to identify areas of concern where changes might become necessary.

More than 900 Uniform Ambassadors from all work groups will be a part of this wear test that will take place over an eight-week period.  This uniform program started prior to the COVID-driven hiatus.  While many of the Uniform Ambassadors were part of the initial program (which is essential for continuity), more than 48% of the current wear test team includes new wear testers further increasing inclusivity of the newest Members of our work groups.

Throughout the wear test period, there will be opportunities for you to not only see the newest components of the uniform, but to also ask questions and obtain additional information on the changes that are now part of the new uniform program.  We encourage you to look at the design changes and to talk to those Members of our Flight Attendant community who will be serving as Uniform Ambassadors to get answers to any questions you might have.  Take advantage of the opportunities provided by management to ask questions and, above all, remain engaged in the process.  If you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to our MEC Uniform Chairperson, Kimberly Burckhalter, via e-mail to uniforms@unitedafa.org.  

AFA Resources for Typhoon Mawar

Typhoon Mawar is rapidly approaching Guam and is expected to be the strongest storm the US territory has seen in decades. The typhoon presents a triple threat with extremely powerful winds comparable to a Category 4 hurricane, a dangerous storm surge, and heavy rainfall, as reported by the National Weather Service office in Guam.

United Airlines' Network Operations Center (NOC) is closely monitoring the typhoon's progress. Once the storm's path becomes clear, decisions will be made regarding potential flight interruptions or cancellations. It is emphasized that the safety and well-being of Flight Attendants should be prioritized, and they are encouraged to make decisions accordingly. If personal safety is at risk, Flight Attendants can refer to Section 28 – Commuter Program for guidance on unable-to-travel situations.

The impact of the typhoon will be significant, affecting many individuals including members of our Flight Attendant family. The AFA Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is always available at 800-424-2406 for support.

In times like these, it is important to support one another, with Flight Attendants assisting their fellow colleagues. The AFA Disaster Relief Fund is dedicated to helping AFA members and retirees who have experienced substantial damage or displacement due to natural disasters. We encourage you to contribute to the AFA Disaster Relief Fund and provide assistance to the affected Flight Attendants.  Please consider making a donation now to help those affected by this devastating storm.


Combined Duty Period Programming Resumes

As was reported in a recent One United release, development of the automation to support combined duty periods, otherwise known as piggybacking, is now back on track and work is underway for its implementation later this year.  Development of this automation, which was started in 2019, was paused by the Company due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Testing of the automation is progressing and more information will be communicated as it becomes available.

AFA Voluntary Supplemental Benefits Enrollment Closes May 26, 2023!

As a reminder, the enrollment for AFA voluntary supplemental benefits is now open until May 26, 2023. We understand the importance of a comprehensive benefit package to our members, and as such, we have partnered with Allstate Products via Design Benefits and Continental American Insurance Company (CAIC) products via National Group Protection to offer enhanced plans consistent with what we have done in the past.

We are committed to ensuring that you have access to a wide range of supplemental benefits that cater to your unique needs and provide an extra layer of financial security for you and your loved ones. Through our partnership with Design Benefits and National Group Protection (NGP), we are able to offer a variety of options designed to enhance your existing contractual coverage. Whether it's critical illness insurance, accident insurance, or hospital indemnity insurance, you can find plans that suit your individual requirements.

To obtain more information about the voluntary supplemental benefits, we encourage you to visit our website, where you will find detailed descriptions of the plans available through the offerings of our two brokers. Our goal is to provide peace of mind for you and your dependents, knowing that you have access to additional protections should the need arise.

July 2023 Special COLA

Opportunities for July 2023 Special COLAs are available. The number of Special COLAs to be awarded at each domicile has not been determined and all active Flight Attendants are eligible to participate.

This Special COLA opportunity makes it possible to consider taking time away from work for a month and interested individuals can submit a request by navigating to CCS > Leaves > Special COLA. The deadline to submit for this Special COLA is Wednesday, June 14th at 0800 CT

In order to qualify for a Special COLA, Flight Attendants must be on active status at the time of award and the company is expecting you to maintain your qualifications while on leave.

For more information, please visit Flying Together > My Work > Crew Planning, Scheduling, and Administration > Crew Planning > COLAs, Job shares, and Partnership Awards.  We encourage you to review the Leave of Absence packet available from the company’s website to ensure you are aware of how leaves of absence may impact benefits and vacation under the terms of our Contract. If you have any questions, please contact Inflightcrewstaffing@united.com.


MAY – Mental Health Awareness Month
MAY – Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
MAY – Jewish American Heritage Month
MAY 08 – 26 – AFA Annual Supplemental Benefits Open Enrollment
MAY 29 – U.S. Memorial Day



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