Alaska Airlines Flight Attendants attended the March 16th RALLY FOR REST
Over 300 Flight Attendants from across the industry, including Alaska Airlines Flight Attendants, descended on Capitol Hill on March 16th to RALLY FOR REST. Flight Attendants from the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and the Transport Workers Union joined together to FIGHT FOR 10. They visited all 541 Congressional offices to advocate for these provisions.
What is the FIGHT FOR 10 all about?
Every three to five years Congress is required to authorize funding and set policies for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). AFA’s top legislative priority for this FAA reauthorization is to have Congress increase the minimum rest requirements for Flight Attendants. Seven Flight Attendant fatigue studies, commissioned by Congress, concluded that the best way to combat fatigue is to get more rest.
Currently, Flight Attendant rest can include passenger deplaning, preflight preparation and passenger boarding is included within the rest period which means that the opportunity to actually sleep is closer to four or five hours. Unless an air carrier is contractually required to provide more rest than the Federal Air Regulations (FARs), Flight Attendants could be facing a scheduled 14-hour duty day following that very short sleep opportunity. The goal of AFA’s FIGHT FOR 10 includes achieving an irreducible FAA minimum 10 hours rest for all Flight Attendants.
In addition to proper rest, the FIGHT FOR 10 includes a Fatigue Risk Management Plan (FRMP). The FRMP would provide a protocol for reporting instances of fatigue in order to take steps to correct it. The FRMP would also require education for Flight Attendants to determine when they are fatigued and how to avoid it.
What is the current status of the FIGHT FOR 10?
The House of Representatives and the Senate have two different versions of the FAA reauthorization bill, which both including language regarding Flight Attendant rest. The Senate bill includes proposed ten hours with “reasonable flexibility,” which means rest for Flight Attendants will most often be reduced to nine hours. The House version of the bill includes FAA minimum (irreducible) rest of ten hours and a FRMP.
Now that both the House and Senate have marked up FAA reauthorization bills, each chamber will schedule votes in their respective chamber. If the House and the Senate pass different versions the bill, a Conference Committee will work out differences between the two versions of the bill.
How would the FIGHT FOR 10 affect the contractual premium pay for going under 9 ½ hours?
If the FAA required minimum (irreducible) rest were to become ten hours, Alaska Flight Attendants would never achieve the two and a half times (2.5x) premium for receiving less than nine and one-half (9 ½) hours per CBA §8.K. [Hours of Service: Reduced RON Rest]. Instead, Crew Scheduling would always ensure that Flight Attendants received at least 10 hours of rest on layovers, even if that meant delaying a flight.
Why would the Master Executive Council support a legislative effort that could negatively impact a lucrative contractual provision?
The Master Executive Council (MEC) strongly believes that it would be near sighted of us to not fully support legislation that would greatly improve Flight Attendant rest across the entire industry. Not only that, but there are no guarantees the new provisions in §8.K will survive from one contract to the next. Did you know the Negotiating Committee sought such a stiff “penalty” for receiving reduced rest on a layover not for the purpose of consistently paying out, but rather to ensure Flight Attendants received improved rest? In other words, the new contractual provisions in §8.K were specifically negotiated to improve safety for Flight Attendants, not primarily as a windfall (although it is a nice bonus when it happens).
Proper rest for Flight Attendants is about safety, health and equality. Fatigue threatens safety throughout the industry. Consequently, the MEC officers feel it is our duty as safety professionals to advance the legislative agenda encapsulated in the FIGHT FOR 10.
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Do you have any questions or want to know how you can help the FIGHT FOR 10? Contact your Local Executive Council (LEC) president or LEC Government Affairs Committee.
Your MEC – Jeffrey Peterson, Brian Palmer, Yvette Satterlee, Lisa Pinkston, Laura Masserant, Cathy Gwynn, Sandra Morrow, Stephen Couckuyt; and MEC Government Affairs Chairperson Bev Bullock