Pay Is Great, But Scope Is Just As Important
What Is Scope?
Scope provisions in contracts provide Job Security . Scope lays out exactly what work is ours to do and guarantees that it will not be performed by anyone else – only those on the System Seniority List. In its purest form, Scope is quite straightforward: Commonly, it’s referred to as the “All Flying” provisions and looks something like this:
“All flying performed by or for [airline name] will be flown by the Flight Attendants in the service of/ on the System Seniority List of [airline name].”
Not very exciting stuff, but it is an essential cornerstone around which all other contract provisions are built. If we didn’t have our jobs, the rest of the Contract would not matter so much
Why is it Important?
In today’s airline industry, our jobs security is under attack through mergers, capacity purchase agreements (CPAs) and code-share agreements. One consequence of management using these tools is that it is possible for flying/work to be siphoned away from the mainline carrier to other carriers whose workers are paid less and have much more lax work rules. They can do the flying cheaper. Arguably, management need to be flexible to right-size equipment to loads and develop routes and markets. However, we must realize that this presents a risk to our Job Security and limits must be put in place.
Capacity Purchase Agreements (CPAs)
This is normally an agreement between a legacy/ large airline and an independent (or wholly-owned) carrier that stipulates an amount of work that will be performed by the CPA (or contracted) carrier. This is normally a “fee for departure” arrangement and the larger carrier will often times pick up “pass-through” costs such as fuel, catering, and sometimes lease the aircraft or arrange financing. This flying is almost always limited to 76 (or fewer)-seat aircraft, such as the Q400 operated by Horizon Air.
When the larger airline wants to contract for CPA flying, it sends out “Request for Proposals” (RFPs) to all carriers interested in providing this “fee for flying” work. Basically, this requires all the carriers responding to the RFP to bid against each other. The lowest bidder normally wins the CPA work. Obviously this system encourages a downward pressure on costs/wages.
Currently, Horizon and SkyWest perform CPA flying for Alaska Air Group. Recently, SkyWest placed orders for 90 seat aircraft and these aircraft will be used for CPA flying – because that is all that SkyWest does. At Alaska mainline, we have seen the amount of CPA flying grow significantly over the past several years. Our goal in these negotiations is to put parameters around CPA flying and to ensure that as Alaska Air Group expands, Alaska mainline grows with it, rather than having our flying taken away and given to CPA carriers.
Codeshare and Marketing Agreements
Codeshare agreements allow carriers to expand their route structures and derive other benefits without the capital investment that actually flying those flights would entail. This allows high-level frequent fliers loyal to an airline the ability to maintain benefits and travel on an expanded route structure and enjoy more non-stop city pairs. Alaska is well placed to be a code-share partner that provides west coast presence for its associate airlines. Alaska Airlines is unique in the industry because it enjoys codeshare arrangements with several different partners belonging to different alliances, SkyTeam and OneWorld, and who would normally be competitors. How the codeshare is structured impacts Job Security and needs to be closely monitored.
One just has to look around the industry today to realize the impact of mergers. Mergers of airlines have had a significant impact on the lives and jobs of Flight Attendants. Fortunately, we already have significant language in the Contract governing this situation which spells out how the seniority list would be merged, provisions for negotiating a combined agreement, worker protections and job retention. If Alaska is going to be involved in the on-going industry consolidation, we must be prepared to defend ourselves and our jobs.
The Fact Is…
The goal of Scope is to protect the interests of all Alaska Flight Attendants. Looking across the industry, the writing is on the wall: Mergers consolidating workforces, CPA flying encroaching on mainline’s share and code-share agreements blurring the lines separating carriers. We must be pro-active and negotiate protections now that will preserve our jobs in the future.
Your Negotiating Committee – MEC President Jeffrey Peterson, Brian Tracy, Karina Cameron-Fetters, Jake Jones and AFA Staff Negotiator Paula Mastrangelo
“Four Bases, One Voice”