The AFA Negotiating Committee and Alaska Airlines management met for the second time to negotiate a new Open Time system, with the session taking place in Seattle this past Wednesday and Thursday.
As you may recall, our current Open Time system was implemented on a trial basis. AFA chose to end the trial, which put us into negotiations for a new system. Our contract states that our old system (the one in effect under the previous contract) will be reinstated while we negotiate a new system; however, this cannot be accomplished until some computer programming is done, which will take several months. Until then, the current system remains in effect.
Negotiating an open time system is always challenging. AFA wants to maximize Flight Attendants’ scheduling flexibility—the ability to trade trips, to get certain days off or even to straight drop trips. Management believes that every flexibility gain for us increases “liability” for the Company by negatively impacting the staffing and therefore the overall operation, which ultimately leads to higher costs. AFA recognizes that the entire workgroup cannot work only when we choose. In turn management understands, at least to some extent, that Flight Attendant morale is important and ultimately benefits the Company.
With those competing interests in mind, the parties engaged in very spirited discussions. Both sides are supportive of the ability to do multiple trades (e.g., trade a 4-day for two 2-days), which we know is very important to Flight Attendants. The parties did not reach actual agreement on any specific provisions, but we did emerge with what we hope will be a framework for a new system. AFA’s last proposal of the session will require management to do some data crunching. If management believes our proposal will create too much liability in the form of uncovered trips, then AFA will need to know how management reached that conclusion. We want facts and numbers.
Based on the parties’ limited availability, our next session is scheduled for late February. Our plan is to see management’s data in advance of the session so that we can ask any questions and get clarifying information in the interim. The Negotiating Committee expects the session to start off with management passing its next proposal.
“Back to book”
AFA has asked for updates from management with respect to programming the old (“back to book” Open Time system). Although we recognize it may take some time, the process needs to begin. We will pass along management’s response when we receive it.
Thanks as always for your support. If you have comments or other feedback, you may email the Negotiating Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org or else contact your Local Executive Council (LEC) president.
Your Negotiating Committee – MEC President Jeffrey Peterson, Kristy Stratton, Lisa Pinkston, Christina Frees and AFA Senior Staff Attorney Kimberley Chaput