The AFA Negotiating Committee met with management November 14-17 this week in Portland to negotiate a new Open Time system. Representing Alaska Airlines management: Vice President of Inflight Services Andy Schneider, Managing Director of Labor Relations Elizabeth Ryan, Director of Inflight Crew Scheduling Kieran Whitney, Manager of Inflight Operations Performance Mike Link and Manager of Financial Planning & Analysis Brittany Schaub. Vice President of Labor Relations Greg Mays also made a guest appearance on Monday to kick off the week.
Under §12.F.9 [Exchange of Sequences: Open Time Trial] of our contract, AFA officially cancelled the Open Time trial in July. The contract provides that once the trial is cancelled, we will go “back to book”. “Back to book” means reverting to the Open Time system used in the 2006-2010 agreement and related 2010-2012 extension as modified by the “Withholding Open Time” arbitration award. You will find the language associated with “back to book” (BTB) Open Time in BTB §12.F [Exchange of Sequences Back to Book: Open Time Trading] of your contract. A copy of the “Withholding Open Time” arbitration award is also at the back of the contract.
Management is currently working on programming the old BTB OT system in the new Crew Exchange. As soon as programming is completed, we will go back to book. This is meant as a placeholder while the parties negotiate a new Open Time system.
The difficulty in negotiating any Open Time system is that management and Flight Attendants have interests that can be challenging to harmonize. From our survey and from our own experience, we know that Flight Attendants want more flexibility—whether to fly less or more, to get certain days off, or to improve the trips on their lines. Management wants to be able to run the operation without increasing its liability for uncovered flying, and to minimize premium pay, junior assignment and the potential for flight cancellations.
The week started out very collaboratively with both parties spending many hours crafting several different conceptual proposals. However, the Negotiating Committee became disheartened on Wednesday after management proposed changes to Open Time that in our opinion would be significantly worse for Flight Attendants than either the current system or the old system. There is no value in negotiating an Open Time agreement that would be worse than “back to book,” since “back to book” will apply if no new agreement is reached.
Consequently, we left the session disappointed.
The parties agreed to meet again on December 7-8 in Seattle. In the meantime, the Negotiating Committee will continue working on possible solutions. We welcome your thoughts and feedback at email@example.com.
Your Negotiating Committee – MEC President Jeffrey Peterson, Kristy Stratton, Lisa Pinkston, Christina Frees and AFA Senior Staff Attorney Kimberley Chaput