What is taking so darned long?
AFA is still working as quickly as possible with management to finalize the contract in preparation for publication. So what is taking so darned long?
This is the first negotiations to revise and clean up the contract basically cover to cover since 1994
One challenge is that although there have been several rounds of negotiations since we inherited our contract from Southwest Airlines in 1994, this is the first negotiations to revise and clean up the entire contract basically cover to cover. Based on the negotiations surveys and input from your Negotiating Committees and the Master Executive Council (MEC) leadership, this round of negotiations was mandated to include more “heavy maintenance” than in the past.
The Alaska Airlines management and AFA negotiating committees did their absolute best to meet this mandate prior to publication of the Tentative Agreement. However, the reality is that once the TA2 document went “live” as a working contract the parties found several passages that deserved clarification. Our thought process is that we all have to live with this document for at least another four and a half years, so it’s important we get the printed contract just right in order to maximize readability.
Limited management resources due to Beyond Service Experience
Another challenge is limited management resources due to Beyond Service Experience (BSE). Although BSE is technically unrelated to contract cleanup work, Inflight management is fully immersed in BSE in addition to running the airline. Consequently, scheduling adequate time for cleanup work has been a challenge for the past several months. This isn’t a criticism of BSE but we’re simply explaining the reality of limited time with Inflight management due to BSE. Regardless of BSE, both parties are highly motivated to complete the contract document.
Dispute over the Quarterly Productivity Premium
A third challenge is the dispute over the Quarterly Productivity Premium (QPP). AFA communicated to you about this issue in the “Quarterly Productivity Premium (QPP) Update – April 24, 2015.” In addition to the original issue with QPP there have been some other tangential disputes related to QPP that have arisen since that communication. However, both parties have been working very hard to resolve QPP outside of the arbitration process. Please be assured your MEC will be fully briefed on any terms and will decide how to proceed. Ideally the parties would like to incorporate any modifications to QPP into the final print version, so we’re holding off on finalizing the contract document for just a little longer to see how QPP plays out.
Stranded Pay in Section 21.N
The final challenge is Stranded Pay in Section 21.N. Frankly, the parties ran out of time to deal with Stranded Pay at what became our final negotiating session in Chicago. As a reminder, the parties were under significant pressure from the National Mediation Board (NMB) to reach a deal in Chicago “or else.” (What the “or else” meant in our minds was the very real possibility of no more mediation sessions for quite some time.) With the addition of all the new Minimum Pay Rules, what was already very complicated in Stranded Pay under the old contract became even more complicated. Not only that but there is significant grievance history on Stranded Pay. Both parties believe modified language to 21.N is warranted so that everybody understands how Stranded Pay works.
The good news…
The good news is that we really are very, very close to moving to the next steps in the process. Those steps would include a final walkthrough with the MEC for approval and then the document would be indexed. At that point the final document would be sent off the printer for publication and the electronic version would be made immediately available on the AFA Alaska website as well on the Inflight Mobile Device.
Typical turnaround time for a published contract is somewhere between three months to over a year
As a reminder, the Master Executive Council (MEC) asked AFA International how long it typically takes to publish a contract following ratification and were informed that we’re well within the ballpark: ranging between three months to over a year. We’re still doing our absolute best to minimize the turnaround!
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Your MEC – Jeffrey Peterson, Brian Palmer, Yvette Gesch, Becky Strachan, Laura Masserant, Cathy Gwynn, Sandra Morrow and Stephen Couckuyt