Management unilaterally changed the employee travel pass policy on May 1, 2012
On May 1, 2012, Alaska Airlines management unilaterally made a significant change to the employee travel pass policy. Effective that day, almost all Alaska Airlines employees who had previous service with Horizon Air had their year of hire adjusted to their Alaska Air Group (AAG) date of hire for the purposes of non-revenue travel priority. AFA and ALPA filed grievances in response to the May 1, 2012, change. More detailed background information can be found after the signature block and AFA Alaska logo below.
In recent developments ALPA settled its grievance, and management granted the AFA grievance. Management announced the intent to roll back the Alaska Flight Attendants and Pilots who are former Horizon employees and to return their travel priority to their Alaska Airlines date of hire. While all employees (formerly from Horizon) hired after July 2012 and those in the Flight Attendant and Pilot work groups are being handled consistently, a small number of employees remain in the other work groups who were not rolled back to their Alaska Airlines date of hire for travel seniority.
Flight Attendants impacted by this decision were notified in early September that their date of hire for travel would revert to the Alaska Airlines hire date and that they would receive new badges. This has caused understandable disappointment and frustration for our members impacted by the change.
AFA advised management that it does not believe that the resolution allowing a small number of employees to retain a date of hire boarding priority that is unavailable to the rest of the employees in the company is equitable and just, or a full resolution of the grievance. In our opinion the overall implementation of the policy changes since the original change in May of 2012 has been badly mishandled. The failure to fully review the original policy change, failure to consult with the Labor groups involved or to assess the potential conflict with their Collective Bargaining Agreements is unacceptable.
AFA was left with the difficult decision on how to proceed. The Master Executive Council (MEC) consulted with our AFA staff attorney to determine if filing a new grievance in order to pursue a uniform policy for all employees, while upholding our contractual language regarding benefits and company seniority, was possible. Ultimately the advice was that a grievance initiated by AFA would be unlikely to succeed, as it would be attempting to change the policy for employees in other work groups, who are covered by their own collective bargaining agreements.
After much discussion, the MEC decided that no further grievances would be filed on this issue, and that the rollback for flight attendants would stand (as will the rollback for pilots, based on ALPA’s settlement). This was a very challenging conclusion for all and the vote was not unanimous. The MEC has spent over three years attempting to resolve this difficult issue, constantly operating with the knowledge that no matter the resolution, one portion of our membership would be negatively impacted.
Filing an individual grievance
The MEC understands that our members who were formerly employed by Horizon feel very strongly about the issue. Many have requested to file individual grievances per Section 19 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. If any member would like to utilize this provision of the contract and file an individual grievance they have the ability to do so and should contact the MEC Grievance Chair Jennifer Wise-MacColl (firstname.lastname@example.org) to receive a grievance number and instructions. The issue is timely as management notified Flight Attendants on September 1, 2015, of the roll back. In order to file a grievance per the 30 business days required by the contract, individual grievances should be filed by close of business at 5pm PT this coming Wednesday, October 14, 2015.
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If you have any questions or concerns, contact your Local Executive Council president:
Your MEC – Jeffrey Peterson, Brian Palmer, Yvette Gesch, Lisa Pinkston, Laura Masserant, Cathy Gwynn, Sandra Morrow and Stephen Couckuyt; MEC Grievance Chairperson Jennifer Wise MacColl and AFA Senior Staff Attorney Kimberley Chaput
Additional Background Information
On May 1, 2012, Alaska Airlines management unilaterally made a significant change to the employee travel pass policy. Effective that day, almost all Alaska Airlines employees who had previous service with Horizon Air had their year of hire adjusted to their Alaska Air Group (AAG) date of hire for the purposes of non-revenue travel priority. Prior to this change there was a long standing past practice that any employee who entered a work group covered by a Collective Bargaining Agreement did not retain their AAG date of hire for non-revenue travel priority. The May 1st change directly affected over three hundred (300) employees and their travel seniority changed—approximately one hundred fifty (150) of them flight attendants. Some of those employees now had travel seniority greater than Alaska Flight Attendants who had been hired at Alaska before the former Horizon employees transferred to Alaska. In effect, the change impacted all Alaska Flight Attendants.
Then in July of 2012 management changed its policy again and determined that all former Horizon employees hired after July 1, 2012, would receive only their Alaska date of hire as their travel seniority. This left the group of 300 as the only employees utilizing their AAG date of hire for non-revenue travel priority. There have been numerous questions regarding longevity for retirement and if this change negates previous service with Horizon Air for purposes of retirement eligibility. The short answer is that this changes impacts date of hire only for non-revenue travel priority.
AFA and ALPA filed grievances in response to the May 1, 2012, change. This was not something we undertook lightly, because many of our flight attendants are former Horizon employees. Ultimately, however, the Master Executive Council (MEC) filed the grievance because we felt—and still feel—that the Company’s actions abrogated our seniority. Seniority is the bedrock of our contract and the guiding principle governing our work rules. The grievance was intended to protect our contract and the workgroup as a whole, not to hurt a group of flight attendants. In addition the MEC weighed the decision of taking no action and the implication that would have if AAG were to acquire new carriers. The MEC was concerned that not grieving the May 1, 2012, change would adversely affect our ability to protect the travel seniority of our Flight Attendants—including former Horizon flight attendants.