It is important to note that a “transitional only” agreement would have needed to be ratified by a majority of the entire membership (L-VX and L-AS). The JNC and the MEC were concerned that a “transitional only” agreement would have been challenging to ratify because the current 2014-2019 agreement ratified by only a 10% margin (55% to 45%) on the L-AS side. Based on membership feedback from the Merger Negotiations survey, we concluded that it would have been questionable to put out the same agreement for ratification and expect a groundswell of support if that agreement did not contain improvements.
Q: What would the integration look like if AFA had not sought improvements to the current CBA for L-AS FAs? In other words, where would L-VX stand with pay and work rules, and how long would it have taken to get them under our contract had the JNC negotiated a transitional agreement (that presumably would have taken less time to negotiate)?
A: It is likely that L-VX would have been brought up to the current Alaska pay rates (that would not include the additional 4.5% increase in the TA), but it is not possible to say with certainty when those pay rates would have been effective. There would have been no impact to L-VX work rules because the March 2019 target date for Full Implementation is based on aircraft differences training (to be completed by year’s end 2018) and Sabre (L-VX) and JCTE (L-AS) programming constraints. In other words, a “transitional only” agreement would still have the same March 2019 target date for Full Implementation (i.e. transition from work rules to the L-AS contractual provisions). However, a “transitional only” agreement would not have included the additional pay increase, 401(k) match, extra holiday, change from QPP to PPP, no 1/12th reduction for vacation accrual, 4 year medical leave duration, etc., that are contained in this TA.
Q: I see a lot of FAs asking, “Why couldn’t L-VX just be brought up to the L-AS pay scale and work rules immediately without negotiation?” Admittedly I know there is a process, but I am not completely familiar with the why and why nots. Could AFA please address this particular question?
A: Management could have brought up L-VX to the L-AS pay scale immediately, and AFA would have agreed to that approach. AFA and management agreed to interim pay rate increases in April 2017 shortly after AFA was certified by the National Mediation Board as the representing union for L-VX FAs, but management would not agree to additional increases in order to maintain some bargaining leverage (as was explained in the JNC blog “Representation and Pay Rate Disparity [VX]” post). Realistically, achieving full L-AS contractual work rules would not have happened any earlier than under the Merger TA because of programming constraints in Sabre and JCTE. Even in a “transitional only” contract, there are many provisions that still would have needed to be negotiated in order to bring L-VX on the L-AS contract, such as sick leave, Attendance Policy, uniform allotment, et cetera, and the related implementation timelines for those transitional provisions.