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MEC Reserve Report – April 2024

Date: May 28, 2024

MEC Reserve Report – April 2024

MEC Reserve Committee

 

May 28, 2024

 

The April System Reserve Meeting with management was held on April 25th, 2024. The meeting was held in person at the new Arlington Support Center in Arlington Heights, IL, with some attendees joining via Microsoft Teams™. Present for AFA were Matt Stegehuis, MEC Reserve Committee Chairperson, and Rene Trujillo, MEC Reserve Committee Vice-Chairperson. Present for the company were Martha Juarez, Manager – Inflight Scheduling Process Quality and Training, Samantha Washington, Matthew McKenna, Jeff Moore and Erick Diaz, Senior Managers – Crew Scheduling Operations, and Ted Ruckert, Manager – Labor Relations, along with other Crew Scheduling representatives.


May Move-up Outlook

We were provided an update on the May Move-up outlook. A total of 88 Move-up lines have been requested system wide (up from 80 in April) with an expected 84:00-hour line average.

 

·       IAH, ORD and SFO will each have one (1) Int’l Purser request; EWR will have two (2) requests.

·       Purser lines that are not awarded due to insufficient open time will be reallocated to the “FA” population.

·       No language Move-up lines were requested based on Reserves and Open Time volume.

 

Follow-up: Advanced Release of Reserves for Potential 24-in-7 Violations

As we continued our discussion regarding the advance release of Reserves due to a potential 24-in-7 violation at the end of the month, we identified an additional concern whereby Reserves who are so released on the last day of availability prior to a block of days off are able to prematurely pick up pairings on the day-off block. In the example we provided, the Flight Attendant subsequently became illegal for the pairing picked up.

 

Management shared their planned guidelines for this process and expressed a view that the guidelines will address this new concern as well as previous issues raised relative to consistency for Flight Attendants. We remain skeptical. We also again raised objection to the proposed process removing the Flight Attendant’s ability to resolve an end-of-month 1-in-7 legality by moving a mutually agreed upon day off from elsewhere in the new month (or to waive this legality by doing nothing) prior to the Contractual deadline. We then discussed possible solutions to this, which the company committed to take back for review. We will continue to follow up.

 

Follow-up: Pre-boarding Standbys Must be Assigned Pairing Before Door Closure

Management informed us that work has been completed on a comprehensive Standby procedure that is inclusive of assignments to pre-boarding and eventual working status. The purpose was to create a consistent Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that mitigates safety and security risks as well as possible regulatory violations. Scheduling and Station Operation Control (SOC) personnel received a walk-through of the following pre-boarding procedure at the beginning of April and it is now fully implemented:

 

1.     When there is a need for a Pre-boarding Flight Attendant (PBFA), Crew Scheduling identifies which Standby will be assigned and provides the name to the Station Operations Center (SOC) Supervisor, along with whether it is likely the PBFA will ultimately work the flight (“Possible Go”) or if the Flight Attendant has a potential legality issue and may ONLY pre-board (“No Go”).

2.     The SOC Supervisor will make positive contact with both the Zone Controller and the Customer Service representatives at the departure gate and will provide the name and “possible go/no go” information of the PBFA. The same information will be provided by the SOC via the flight’s EZ Chat.

3.     It is the responsibility of Crew Scheduling to make all assignment advisements to the Flight Attendant.

4.     If it is ultimately determined that the PBFA will work the flight, Crew Scheduling will assign a pairing to the Flight Attendant’s schedule before contacting the Flight Attendant to advise of their working status.

5.     It is part of the SOP that all of this will be accomplished prior to main cabin door closure.

 

Note: Crew Scheduling has no control over door closure. If the Customer Service representative is ready to close the door before a pairing has been assigned to the PBFA, the Flight Attendant should inform them that this has not yet occurred.

 

Management stated they will be conducting audits over the next several weeks to ensure the new process is being followed. Local Base Management should also be aware of the updated procedures. For escalations occurring in the moment, Local Councils should reach out to the Crew Desk Assistant Manager. If it cannot be resolved, Flight Attendants should comply with any directives given by management. As always, we recommend that any safety or security concerns related to the Standby Reserve pre-boarding process be submitted in an ISAP report with a copy going to AFA.

 

Follow-up: When to Contact Scheduling After Calling in “Well”

In follow up to last month’s discussion on this topic, Management stated they had reviewed with FAST leadership the example provided of a Reserve improperly assigned following a return from Sick Leave status. It was determined to have been an isolated case and they coached the agent involved.

 

As far as the need for FAST representatives to communicate with Scheduling personnel, management expressed a view that this is only required when Scheduling is or has released (RLSD) excess Reserves for the following day, as provided in Section 8.E.1. of the Contract. If the Flight Attendant would have been RLSD as part of the process, they should be RLSD upon return to working status. If they would not have been RLSD, they would simply be automatically returned to the Reserve Availability list once the Sick Leave is ended, and would be subsequently assigned as appropriate and in accordance with the provisions of Contract Section 8.F.4.

 

‘CNF’ is Not an Option for Resolving End-of-Month 1-in-7 Violations

After presenting an example where a Reserve was allowed to resolve an end-of-month 1-in-7 violation with a ‘CNF’, management confirmed this is not a Contractually compliant option. The transaction was determined to have been performed by a FAST agent who mistook the underlying issue for a Reserve “short-block.” They have since been coached.

 

Improper Pairing Modifications

We provided management with recent instances where Reserve pairings were improperly modified. In both of the below cases, management acknowledged the Scheduling errors and committed to follow up with the individuals involved.

 

1.     Following a delayed arrival at a downline station, a Reserve was improperly reassigned in a manner that would not return them back to base in time for their next scheduled day off; even though they were still legal to work their originally assigned flight back to base. Reserves may only be assigned into days off from their home domicile in accordance with Section 8.I.1.f-g. of the Contract.

2.     After having been released to their legal rest via the CCS Automated Block-in, a Scheduler improperly attempted to second-assign (i.e., “turn”) a Reserve by modifying the pairing. Once released, a Reserve is no longer required to remain available for contact until conclusion of their legal rest period.

 

Management shared that they are planning to create a process that provides guidance to Schedulers as to when and how Reserves may be second-assigned.

 

Process for Reserves to Make Up Sick Leave

We asked management about the process used when Reserves wish to make up Sick Leave, as provided in Section 8.O.8. of the Contract. While it had been reported that some Reserves were told there was no such process, management clarified that the provision is “subject to company agreement,” and has just not been exercised since implementation of the JCBA. As a matter of background, this language is derived from the pm-UA Agreement and, according to management, was not often used. When it was, however, it was communicated broadly to Flight Attendants that the option was being offered, at which point Flight Attendants could request to make up Sick Leave hours by picking up flying and having the associated credit posted to their Sick Leave bank. We will revisit the issue when this provision is next applied.

 

Reserve Partial Trip Drop Process

Based on feedback from Local Councils, we asked management to review the process Reserves should use to request a partial drop of an assigned pairing (for example, a turn at the end of a pairing), as provided in Section 7.M.2. of the Contract. We were surprised to learn that, despite discussions in years past on the topic, the management representatives present did not share our understanding that this provision applies to Reserves. After a robust exchange, management committed to take the issue back for review. We will follow up.

 

Schedulers Should Respond to General Assignment Questions

We have heard from a few Local Councils that Reserve Flight Attendants have been reporting that crew schedulers are referring them back to AFA for any assignment related questions. While it is understood that all Reserve Preferencing assignment questions are to be referred back to the Local Council due to the Union’s unique ability to read and decipher the nightly Reason Report, we reminded management that schedulers should be able to respond to non-preferencing related assignment questions; especially concerns related to the order of assignment. Management concurred but offered a note that there may be times when Flight Attendants have additional questions or concerns following the schedulers response, at which point they would likely be referred back to the Union. They still committed to take the issue back to the group.

 

Difficulty Restoring Reserve Minimum Days Off Due to Carry-over

We reviewed with management a case where a Flight Attendant had difficulty getting their Reserve minimum days off restored in the new month due to a Lineholder carry-over pairing. In the example, the scheduler initially would not restore the days off because the carry-over pairing was not part of the originally awarded line. Management confirmed our mutual understanding that Reserve minimum days off in the new month that are infringed by carry-over pairings shall be restored as long as the infringing pairing was part of the Flight Attendant’s schedule prior to the new month award; even if it was not part of the original line. They will follow up with the scheduler.

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