There are still many unanswered questions about exactly how the merger with Virgin America will unfold. While the path may be long and drawn out, recently some significant milestones have been reached, and we are finally starting down the path of merging the two airlines.
On December 14, 2016, the corporate transaction was completed, and the airlines are now officially under the Alaska Air Group umbrella.
On December 30, Alaska management filed their “Notice of Merger” with the National Mediation Board (NMB), citing several indicators such as common ownership, Board of Directors, corporate officers and management; financial integration; and centralized labor relations. These conditions signal to the NMB that “like” employee groups from each carrier (such as pilots, customer service agents, dispatchers and Flight Attendants) may be ready to be represented by one labor union. Both Flight Attendant groups will ultimately be represented by AFA.
On January 5, 2017, AFA filed its “Application for Determination of Representation Dispute” (official title) or “Finding of Single Carrier Status.” The NMB has the sole discretion for making this determination and, once made, will mean that AFA will also represent the Virgin America Inflight Teammates (ITMs).
How long will it take the NMB to make this decision? There is no hard and fast rule and no concrete deadline. Looking at the timelines for past determinations suggests that it will be a number of months.
A drawn out timeline is not unusual in airline mergers. Even after we have an agreement on a merged contract, the two groups cannot be combined until management is successful in attaining a Single Operating Certificate and achieving the ability to put both groups under one crew scheduling system. Only then can the groups be combined operationally and under one contract—both of which could be quite some time away in the future.
We will keep you updated on merger-related events as they happen, and we thank you for your continued patience.
Your MEC – Jeffrey Peterson, Brian Palmer, Linda Christou, Lisa Pinkston, Laura Masserant, Cathy Gwynn, Tim Green and Brice McGee