Dear Flight Attendants,
A short while ago, AFA was alerted by our members of disturbing reports emerging from Lihue. It all started out innocently enough: yesterday Managing Director of Inflight Operations Ron Calvin shadowed a crew over to Lihue in order to observe various aspects of the service. This was in response to a conversation between Ron and one or more San Diego-based Flight Attendants that took place at the SAN First Anniversary Party and Inflight Social on April 1, 2014. During that conversation several concerns were discussed and Ron was challenged to get on a plane and witness for himself the issues.
Ron flew over to Lihue and once there took several Flight Attendants from multiple crews out for dinner and drinks. For the record, the Master Executive Council (MEC) has voiced concerns with Inflight management’s impending plans to periodically shadow Flight Attendants around the system. The MEC only recently learned about this program because of reports directly from the line. We found out about it because a particular supervisor discussed elements of the program with line Flight Attendants. Details of that discussion were in turn translated back to AFA leadership.
AFA vehemently objected to union leadership being cut out of communications on such an important change to practice. The MEC was assured that the program was still in development and not finalized. Inflight management informed us they were initially planning to direct each Inflight supervisor or manager to shadow one crew per month as an observer (not as part of a check ride or initial operating experience [IOE]) and would stay at the remain overnight (RON) with the crew. An offer of an expenses-paid meal and up to two alcoholic beverages per Flight Attendant would be made. Some of you might be thinking this sounds like a nice offer and others that this is the latest craziest thing you’ve ever heard from management!
We were assured the communications gaffe would not be repeated and that the program was not ready for roll-out. The MEC intended to address the issue with our membership shortly, but this was put on the back burner so we could focus on a few other pressing projects. Those would include completing officer elections in Council 39 Portland and Council 19 Seattle (polls close this Friday the 11th), selecting the second round Negotiating Committee, rolling out the follow-up negotiations survey and getting back to the negotiations table as soon as possible.
Then management threw the MEC another curve ball by publishing the “New Sick Leave Communication” on April 1st, so we were forced to deal with that first. Since then we’ve communicated about the next system-wide solidarity effort on May 20th (so Flight Attendants could bid for the day off before bids close tomorrow) and we are working furiously in the background to begin the negotiations survey. The first of several communications about the negotiations survey should be out tomorrow.
Lo and behold and much to our surprise we were informed hours ago that Facebook was lighting up with reports of Ron himself doing exactly what the MEC was assured would not happen yet: Inflight management shadowing Flight Attendants and taking crews out for a meal and cocktails. By the way, Ron was the one who personally told MEC President Jeffrey Peterson just the other day that the program was not in play. Yet it is Ron who has become the first unofficial “Inflight Shadow” without mentioning a word to AFA until after the fact.
How is this in keeping with the “open and honest two-way communication” that Inflight management seems so interested in establishing with Flight Attendants?! Oh, wait. Maybe they do not mean open and honest two-way communication with your duly elected union representatives!
We wonder what the Department of Labor would think about this approach? Or considering that we are in Section 6 negotiations under the Railway Labor Act, what about the National Mediation Board? Call us a bunch of silly Flight Attendants but it doesn’t take a genius to understand this probably isn’t a very productive way of conducting labor relations or moving towards a ratified collective bargaining agreement.
Oh but it gets even better! Ron also performed Flight Attendant duties on the flight over to Lihue despite the fact that he was not performing a check-ride or an Initial Operating Experience (IOE). Not only is this a clear violation of Section 3.D of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (Scope of Agreement) but Ron directly admitted in a phone conversation with MEC President Jeff Peterson earlier this afternoon that he did it. Unbelievable, right?! What conclusions should one draw from that???
So…where to go from here? Once the MEC clears through several other necessary communications in preparation for negotiations the week of May 12th, we will publish a communication dedicated to the “Inflight Shadow” program. In the meantime, AFA has filed a contractual grievance alleging a violation of Section 3.D. We use the term “alleging” because that is the technically correct term to use at this stage of the grievance. However, an admission by the violating party doesn’t leave much wiggle room in our opinion. A link to the grievance is found below.
On behalf of the Flight Attendants in the service of Alaska Airlines as represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, the MEC calls upon Alaska Airlines management to immediately sustain the grievance and to communicate a meaningful message of good faith to our members in response to this series of unfortunate but preventable events.
Your MEC—Jeffrey Peterson, Brian Palmer, Yvette Gesch, Becky Strachan, Laura Masserant, Cathy Gwynn and Sandra Morrow