A Message About Current Events
Nearly constant bombardment of disturbing news lately
The Master Executive Council (MEC) recognizes there has been a nearly constant bombardment of disturbing news lately. The COVID-19 pandemic and the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor have touched every one of us in some way or another, and we are all struggling to process the enormity of the situation. Flight Attendants are feeling understandably anxious about their safety, health and financial security and for those they care about.
Impact of recent events on our black sisters and brothers
We would be remiss as union leaders if we did not acknowledge that our black sisters and brothers are understandably feeling particularly impacted by recent events. An injury to one is an injury to us all, and AFA will continue to defend our members’ rights, safety and freedom. We can and must do better as a society to achieve true racial equality. Black Lives Matter!
Juneteenth and Pride Month
June brings the celebration of Juneteenth and also is Pride Month. AFA’s mission is to unite Flight Attendants and promote equality for all regardless of race, color, creed, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. We also recognize the increased discrimination that black and brown LGBTQ+ Flight Attendants face.
Discrimination undermines our country
Discrimination of any kind undermines the strength of our country. We must work together to protect the rights that should belong to every human being. We stand up for fairness and equal opportunity for all.
Planning for the Future
Future staffing discussed by management
Alaska Airlines management hosted an all-employee webcast yesterday morning (AAG SSO required) during which the subject of future staffing was discussed. CEO Brad Tilden and President Ben Minicucci also sent an email message (“An update on our airlines from Brad and Ben”) to all employees shortly thereafter. Flight Attendants want to know how the data translates into implications for future staffing, and we’re here to help.
All indications are that management has been very transparent with the entire employee group, but keep in mind that any projections for future demand, revenue, capacity, block hours, etc., are all based on continually shifting data. These figures are potentially highly variable depending upon numerous factors that are too complex to anticipate with absolute certainty, and the forecasts become less certain the further into the future one goes. The following analysis is the MEC’s “worst-case” assessment based on management’s projections, so actual results may vary.
We’re going to cut through all the statistics, underlying assumptions and calculations by going straight to our assessment. The MEC does not feel at liberty to explain our methodology at this time because we do not wish to disclose data that could unintentionally provide a competitive advantage to other carriers. All that being said, we have vetted our calculations and feel confident in our conclusions—or as confident as we can be given all the caveats.
Q4 2020 staffing
Beginning on October 1, Alaska Airlines will possibly need 35%-50% less Flight Attendants systemwide—at least temporarily.
Summer 2021 staffing
Alaska Airlines will possibly need 20% less Flight Attendants through summer 2021 and for an indefinite period of time thereafter. Presumably, the other 15%-30% of Flight Attendants (i.e. from the initial reduction of 35%-50% in Q4 2020 above) would be brought back to active service by next summer if the 20% holds true.
Potential furlough mitigations
However, that does not mean the aforementioned percentages of Flight Attendants will be involuntarily furloughed. The number of actual involuntary furloughs could be much less depending on potential furlough mitigations such as extended leaves of absence, voluntary furloughs, et cetera. For example, there are more than enough Flight Attendants currently on Staffing Adjustment Leaves—over 3400 FAs and 55+% in June—to prevent involuntary furloughs if the staffing reduction were to be applied today.
AFA and management began discussions regarding early retirement back in March, and the parties have scheduled regular meetings starting next week in an effort to achieve an attractive “Early Out” package and explore other furlough mitigations as soon as possible. AFA will also continue to press Congress for additional payroll support programs and other legislative relief.
The following “worst-case” assessment is based on the assumption of no furlough mitigations, which is quite simply not in the realm of possibility. At least some Flight Attendants will inevitably take extended leaves, voluntary furloughs and perhaps early retirement (if the parties agree to an Early Out package), all of which will reduce the potential number of involuntary furloughs. This information is provided only in order to give everyone a better sense of the theoretical scale of anticipated staffing reductions.
A forced 20% staffing reduction would hypothetically affect system seniority numbers 4780 to 5975 and occupational seniority dates March 2017 to August 2019. A 35% forced staffing reduction would hypothetically affect up to system seniority number 3884 and an occupational seniority date of March 2015. A 50% forced staffing reduction would hypothetically affect up to system seniority number 2988 and an occupational seniority date of May 2012. Again, AFA will work with management to mitigate the number of Flight Attendants who may be involuntarily furloughed.
Section 18 Reduction in Force
One of the key provisions that will potentially benefit Flight Attendants is the right to recall under Section 18 Reduction in Force. Flight Attendants are kept on the seniority list and have the right to be recalled in seniority order for up to five years. The MEC encourages Flight Attendants to familiarize themselves with Section 18 over the coming months.
Some Flight Attendants have asked about the status of upcoming contract negotiations. The contract is amendable in December 2021, but negotiations may start one year prior to the amendable date if notice is served by either party (AFA or management) at least 60 days prior to December 17, 2020. The MEC completed first round interviews with potential Negotiating Committee candidates in March and April. However, the bargaining ‘landscape’ has significantly changed in the past few months. In consultation with AFA Collective Bargaining, the MEC has decided to hold off on moving forward with second round interviews for now. We will provide another update on the issue no later than August.
Lots of sobering information to absorb! As your direct representative on the MEC, your LEC president is available to answer questions or concerns that you may have. Contact information for your respective LEC president can be found by clicking here.
Your MEC – Jeffrey Peterson, Brian Palmer, Linda Christou, Matt Cook, Terry Taylor, Mario de’Medici, Melissa Osborne, Tim Green and Brice McGee