December 23, 2013
Dear Flight Attendants,
MEC President Jeffrey Peterson here. Normally I would vet a communication of this nature with the full Master Executive Council (MEC) before sending out to the Membership. However, in this case time is of the essence. Staffing has reached critical levels for Christmas Eve tomorrow and management is extremely concerned that the Company may have to cancel flights. Not only that, but several Flight Attendants have already been junior assigned (JA’d) in the past few days and into tomorrow. These issues are very troubling for all parties.
By now Vice President of Inflight Services Andy Schneider has sent out a communication in regards to increasing the premium for junior available (JA) and voluntary junior available (VJA) on Christmas Eve to double time. This is with the hope that more Flight Attendants will VJA in order to minimize the use of JA and to prevent flight cancellations. Hopefully the double time will help take the sting out of being JA’d as well.
As part of this arrangement, your MEC has authorized a temporary agreement which allows Inflight management who hold FAA-certificates as Flight Attendant to function as minimum crew. In order to be as transparent as possible, a link to the temporary agreement is below. The MEC realizes there will be concerns within the Membership about this agreement. In fact, I would be remiss if I did not inform you that not all the Local Executive Council (LEC) presidents supported the agreement. The MEC always strives to be united as “Five Bases, One Voice” but this does on occasion happen.
My point in telling you this is to assure you that the decision was not made lightly. Further, we share many of your concerns in regards to why we run into staffing issues year after year around the holidays. For instance, I have read Andy’s letter and I do not agree with her assessments in regards to staffing. In her letter she focuses on sick leave usage but she glosses over the staffing adjustment leaves that were granted for December. Why in the world were any staffing adjustment leaves offered in December in the first place?!
Andy writes that this was to ensure the base line averages were kept above the contractual minimums. In my humble opinion, management could have easily run with more Reserves than normal and not offered any staffing leaves in December. Then Crew Scheduling could have granted personal drops (PDs) along the way by offering more PDs earlier in the month and less over the holidays.
Not only that but I’m not so sure if her approach is the most effective. I’m no public relations expert but I don’t believe harping on sick leave usage in the same communication in which she is looking to drum up more VJA works in her favor. I think after years of hearing the same message over the holidays we all just check out once the discourse goes there. Finally, the quoted sick leave usage (“up to 22%”) is based on one day and one domicile. The actual sick leave usage when looked at on a system-wide basis is significantly less. But I digress…
The point is an increased premium of double time is available on VJA for tomorrow if you’re interested. If so, you would be helping out the operation, your fellow Flight Attendants (by minimizing JA) and your pocketbook if you could pick up VJA. I know not everybody is going to agree with me putting this out there but I’ll take full responsibility for acting on my own. This request is coming from me and me alone–the LEC presidents have not authorized this message.
On another note, your Negotiating Committee has been hard at work finalizing the recent tentative agreement (TA). With so many changes to the language, it has been a herculean effort to complete in such a short period of time. After many long days and late nights of solid work in the past week, we’re still looking on track for presenting the TA to the MEC on December 30th.
If the LEC presidents approve the TA for ratification, we will be distributing the TA and supporting materials ASAP. Tentatively we are looking at a first round of roadshows in SEA, PDX and ANC the first full week of January 6-10. Roadshows in SAN, LAX and SNA will be the second full week of January 13-17. As soon as arrangements are final we will send out a more detailed schedule. We are also tentatively planning on a second round of roadshows around the system in the first two full weeks of February. The count date is set for February 14.
That just about covers it, I think. Happy Holidays everybody! 😉
MEC President Jeffrey Peterson
On behalf of your AFA Alaska MEC – Jeffrey Peterson, Terry Taylor, Yvette Gesch, Melanie Buker, Laura Masserant, Cathy Gwynn and Sandra Morrow