August 1, 2013
Dear Flight Attendants,
Back in early June, AFA and Alaska Airlines management settled Grievance No. 36-99-2-03-13. The grievance alleged that management violated the Collective Bargaining Agreement (“Contract”) by allowing Flight Attendants to give check-rides to probationary Flight Attendants. The grievance was somewhat complex in the sense that it encompassed several concerns for AFA:
- Was it appropriate for a Flight Attendant (non-management employee) to conduct check-rides for probationary Flight Attendants;
- If so, under what circumstances would be acceptable for these duties while ensuring the Flight Attendant conducting the check-ride did not determine another Flight Attendant’s (probationary or otherwise) employment status;
- How would such a Flight Attendant be selected and compensated (including wages and benefits) for the check-rides; and
- If a Flight Attendant transferred into management in order to accomplish these check-rides and then returned to the collective-bargaining unit shortly thereafter, how would that transfer be accomplished?
During the months of discussions leading up to the settlement, Flight Attendant trainers presented a very compelling case advocating the benefit to all parties if they were allowed to conduct probationary check-rides. AFA and Alaska Airlines management ultimately agreed, which resulted in the June settlement. A sideletter of agreement amending the Contract was part of the settlement. Most provisions of the settlement dealt with administrative concerns and were effective immediately upon date of signing in June. However, the accompanying sideletter went into effect today.
The language of the sideletter does not directly affect the vast majority of Flight Attendants, but in order to be as transparent as possible AFA is providing a public version of the settlement agreement and the sideletter for review, linked below. Please note that going forward AFA will draw a distinction between a “check-ride” and a “probationary observation.” A check-ride is a performance audit conducted by Inflight management while observing a probationary or non-probationary Flight Attendant performing her or his duties on the aircraft. The practice defined by the settlement will henceforth be known as a probationary observation and shall be conducted by a Flight Attendant trainer (or “probationary observer”). Probationary observers are not supervisory personnel and do not have the ability to discipline another Flight Attendant. In order to minimize confusion amongst the customers and crew, a probationary observer will not wear the Flight Attendant uniform while conducting a probationary observation. However, all probationary observers will remain Flight Attendants and shall retain the ability to bid for a schedule and fly in addition to all the other rights afforded them under the Contract.
The Master Executive Council (MEC) officers wish to thank the Flight Attendant trainers who have performed probationary observations while the grievance was active. It is an understatement to say that it was not always easy for these probationary observers while AFA and Alaska Airlines management worked through the issues. The MEC lodged a contractual grievance with management in order to reach clarity regarding the practice of probationary observations by collective-bargaining unit members. The grievance was never about those who chose to perform this valuable function for probationary Flight Attendants. The MEC officers have been and remain fully supportive of our Flight Attendant trainer sisters and brothers—whether performing probationary observations or other training-related work.
AFA acknowledges Megan Brown, Robyn Garner, Chris Ratowski, Lyn Montague, Maya Anderson, and Sally Rudolphi for their dedication and patience. AFA also wishes to highlight Megan Brown’s invaluable assistance with negotiating the settlement. Megan, Robyn, Chris, Lyn, Maya, and Sally have laid a very solid and now contractually-supported foundation for future probationary observers. Thank you, ladies!
Your MEC – Jeffrey Peterson, Terry Taylor, Yvette Gesch, Melanie Buker, Laura Masserant, Cathy Gwynn and Sandra Morrow
“Five Bases, One Voice”