[Note: This is a longer communication containing a lot of information, so you might want to read this when you have a decent amount of time set aside.]
Beyond frustrated with Open Time
Your AFA Alaska Master Executive Council (MEC) understands that our Members are beyond frustrated with Open Time. Please know that we are doing everything possible to ensure Alaska Airlines management (1) implements the language of the new Open Time system in the way it was negotiated, and (2) that Flight Attendants can access Open Time without it slowing/”hiccupping”/freezing/crashing/etc.
Speaking of Open Time slowing/hiccupping/freezing/crashing/et cetera…
Speaking of Open Time slowing/”hiccupping”/freezing/crashing/et cetera, the login issues are not directly related to the new Open Time system of trading. The reality is that no matter which Open Time rules are being used (old vs. new), Maestro/eMaestro has been on its last legs for far too long. Ideally Maestro/eMaestro should have been replaced years ago. The system is designed to handle around 500 connections at any given time (including Crew Scheduling, administrative access, reports, etc.). When everybody is trying to log on at the same time when Open Time opens, the system almost always slows down—or worse.
What can be done about the connections? The MEC and management previously agreed to more widely stagger the opening of trading. This was done in order to spread out the number of users attempting to access Maestro/eMaestro at any given time and therefore reduce the load on the system. See AFA Alaska’s New Temporary FA to FA and Open Time Trading Schedule update from November 17, 2015, for more information. Realistically, nothing more can be done to speed up Maestro/eMaestro, so in the short term we’re stuck dealing with a slow system.
Jeppesen Crew Tracking Enterprise (JCTE)
However, the Company is set to roll out the new crew management system called Jeppesen Crew Tracking Enterprise (JCTE) this coming September 30th. Management has advised the MEC that JCTE will be able to handle many more users than Maestro/eMaestro. You have already heard about JCTE recently from Inflight Crew Scheduling management. Your MEC hopes JCTE delivers as much as has been promised!
Start of the Open Time trial has become a “rolling delay”
The MEC and management agreed the trial period of twelve months from “initial implementation” referenced in Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) §12.F.10 [Exchange of Sequences: Open Time Trial: Trial Period] should begin when the system is fully functional. During negotiations, the trial was estimated to begin around August 2015, which is reflected in CBA Letter of Agreement 6 [Contract Implementation Schedule].
As a result of all the programming challenges associated with the new Open Time system, the start of the Open Time trial has become an unforeseen “rolling delay.” In our previous Open Time Trial update dated January 15, 2016, AFA Alaska communicated, “Based on the latest estimates, we are anticipating the Open Time trial to officially begin in the next month or so.” That estimate has proven to be too optimistic by several months.
Incorrect Open Time programming
The MEC is extremely disappointed that the new Open Time has been programmed incorrectly. The new Open Time has suffered from major programming glitches that were corrected as recently as just a few months ago. In fact, Open Time was initially programmed incorrectly with more favorable trading rules than negotiated. OT was left to run for several months with the more favorable rules starting last autumn, and then the system was reprogrammed with the negotiated trading rules a few months back.
Open Time still has one minor bug related to multiple trades even up to the present day. The MEC finds this completely unacceptable. We are pushing for management to install a programming patch that would fix the bug as soon as possible.
Programming limitations for Maestro/eMaestro and JCTE
Unfortunately, due to the complexities of programming and resource limitations, no additional changes beyond that possible patch can be made to Maestro/eMaestro. The MEC also knows that all the OT codes (TO, DD, CP and TX) are confusing to many and ideally we would like to condense all the codes into only two categories. However, any programming change requests made to the new system JCTE will not go live until February 2017 at the earliest—or later.
Open Time trial officially begins this month (May)
At this point, the MEC is not willing to wait any longer for conditions to improve prior to commencing the trial. Consequently, the Open Time trial will officially begin this month (May), and the MEC will be sending out monthly surveys regarding your opinion of the trial. The first round of surveys will be sent out very soon.
The MEC will review the survey results on a monthly basis for at least three to four months prior to determining a course of action.
Based on membership feedback the MEC will make a determination on the future of Open Time:
- If the MEC determines to go “back to book,” reverting to the former Open Time system could take approximately one year. This is because the new JCTE crew management system would need to be reprogrammed with the rules for the former OT system. (It is currently being programmed with the new OT rules.)
- If we do go “back to book,” AFA will start negotiating a new system as outlined in CBA 12.F.9 [Exchange of Sequences: Open Time Trial: Cancellation of Open Time Trial]. Implementation of a replacement OT system would likely take a minimum of nine months after reaching an agreement with management.
Other factors contributing to your frustration
The MEC and Scheduling Committee understand there are several other factors contributing to your frustration. We have heard you loud and clear that all the codes and the trading rules are confusing. In the short term, AFA Alaska is working on a “cheat sheet,” Open Time Trading with the Codes, to help you understand the codes and trading rules. In the long term, the MEC is advocating for combining all the codes into two categories as soon as can be programmed into JCTE.
Schedule flexibility is also negatively impacted by extremely high line averages in all domiciles. There are fewer Reserves on a comparative basis than in the past, and those Reserves are being highly utilized. Premium OT is being offered nearly every day. From the MEC’s perspective, Inflight appears obviously understaffed. Management has agreed to hire at least one more class this year in order to bring down the line averages, but that will take time.
Finally, the MEC has received a lot of feedback recently regarding dissatisfaction with the pairings; so stay tuned for more communication from us on that subject!
* * *
If you have any questions or concerns, contact your local officers (LEC officers: ANC 30 | SEA 19 | PDX 39 | LAX 18 | SAN 15) or Scheduling Committee members (local Scheduling Committee: ANC 30 | SEA 19 | PDX 39 | LAX 18 | SAN 15).
Your MEC – Jeffrey Peterson, Brian Palmer, Yvette Satterlee, Lisa Pinkston, Laura Masserant, Cathy Gwynn, Sandra Morrow, Stephen Couckuyt; LEC Presidents-elect Tim Green, Brice McGee; and MEC Scheduling Committee Chairperson Jake Jones