[See “Full Implementation” Guarantees / Penalties [VX], “Full Implementation” Guarantees / Penalties 2 [VX], “Full Implementation” Guarantees / Penalties 3 [VX] and “Full Implementation” Guarantees / Penalties 4 [VX] for more info.]
Q: I realize now that there are penalties to the Company if the groups are not integrated by March 2, 2019. Do you know if this will be enough of a penalty? AA/US and CO/UA have also ratified joint contracts and are still flying separately. I was curious if you know the reason why AA/US and UA/CO are still flying separate and if they had any integration penalties in their joint contracts as well?
A: There are several questions contained in this one post, so we will answer them separately:
- There is no telling if any penalty is ever enough to prevent something. However, it is important to remember that management desperately wants to merge all labor groups as soon as possible. If the March 2, 2019, “target” integration date is not achieved, then the TA provides for all L-VX pairings (trips in the bid packet) to be built using the L-AS CBA rules (i.e. 10.5 hr duty day and layover rest) starting in March. When you consider that the L-VX FA pairings are currently built using 14 hr scheduled duty day and FAR minimum rest on layovers, using the L-AS provisions would significantly impact how much flying could be accomplished. Management would have to figure out how to cover that additional flying and significant cost would accrue to the Company. Additionally, there is significant pressure on management because they have promised Wall Street, their investors and outside analysts that this merger will happen by mid 2019. Upper management is under extreme pressure to achieve merger target dates. That pressure is more significant than any penalty we could achieve in negotiations.
- Flight Attendant groups at United/Continental and American/ US Airways are both slated to be fully integrated in October of this year. Those merger agreements were negotiated some time ago and yes it has been a long road to achieve that. The situation is further complicated because both carriers being “absorbed” had contracts in place and Flight Attendants are transitioning off of those provisions.
- There were no penalties in either the AA or UAL merger agreements.
- Technology has played a significant part in the delay. However other complications have also contributed. UAL has separate international and domestic bases, and the entire membership had to vote on the system going forward. Cross training is also a significant hurdle considering the multiple equipment types and the number of Flight Attendants involved. At AA, there was a dispute about when the AA Flight Attendants would be transitioned onto PBS (AOS system), and that resulted in a grievance which is now at the system board level. The position of APFA (the union representing AA FAs) is that integration cannot go forward absent the dispute being resolved. In an unusual turn of events, management just recently filed its own grievance in protest