AFA Alaska Negotiations Update – December 17, 2020
Master Executive Council
In This Edition
- Updated Contract Negotiations Timeline
- Negotiations Delayed Until September 1, 2021
- Overview of the Railway Labor Act
Updated Contract Negotiations Timeline
1st round Negotiating Committee interviews – March & April 2020
Full pay scale increase of 2.5% – December 17, 2020 – This is the final full pay scale increase under this contract. A confirmation email from Employee Records to all Flight Attendants is expected in the next few days.
Revised “Early Opener” date – September 1, 2021 – Original Early Opener date: December 17, 2020. Negotiations may start on or after this date if notice is served by either AFA or management at least 60 days prior.
Amendable date – December 17, 2021 – Under the Railway Labor Act (RLA), the amendable date of a contract is generally the date on which the provisions of a collective bargaining agreement may be changed. Unlike under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), contracts under the RLA do not automatically expire and instead generally remain in force throughout negotiations and the amendable period.
Negotiations Delayed Until September 1, 2021
AFA leadership and Alaska Airlines management have agreed to hold off on engaging in negotiations until September 1, 2021. Both parties recognize that entering into negotiations during the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic would not be productive for either party. Consequently, the parties have executed a side letter of agreement amending the Early Opener date from December 17, 2020 to September 1, 2021 in Section 35 [Duration] of the Joint Collective Bargaining Agreement (JCBA).
Overview of the Railway Labor Act
The Railway Labor Act (RLA) was passed in 1926 to allow railroad union workers to resolve disputes with management while minimizing the potential for interstate commerce disruptions. The airline industry was folded into the RLA under Title II in 1936. The RLA was the first federal law guaranteeing the right of workers to organize and join unions and elect representatives without employer coercion or interference. The RLA makes it the duty of all carriers and their employees to exert every reasonable effort to voluntarily settle disputes. Negotiations procedures were historically contained in Section 6 of the RLA, which is why one often hears “Section 6” as a catch-all phrase for everything having to do with negotiations under the RLA. The RLA is currently located in 45 USC Chapter 8 Sections 151 – 188.
Who is Covered?
The RLA applies to freight and commuter railroads, airlines, companies directly or indirectly controlled by carriers who perform services related to transportation of freight or passengers and the employees of these railroads, airlines and companies.
- Avoid any interruption to commerce.
- Assist in the prompt and orderly settlement of disputes covering rates of pay, work rules, or working conditions.
- Assist in the prompt and orderly settlement of disputes growing out of grievances or out of the interpretation or application of existing contracts covering the rates of pay, work rules or working conditions.
- Ensure an unhindered right of employees to join a labor union (added in 1934).
- Provide complete independence of organization by both parties to carry out the purposes of the RLA.
“Minor” vs. Major” Disputes
Disputes are divided into two categories under the Railway Labor Act: “minor” (resolved via the grievance and arbitration process) and “major” (resolved via the negotiations process).
Minor Disputes: Grievances growing out of the interpretation or application of collective bargaining agreements (CBAs). – System boards of adjustment (often administered by a neutral third-party arbitrator) have exclusive jurisdiction over grievance disputes. A system board’s findings are conclusive, and any awards through this process are binding on the parties. Self-help (e.g., work slowdowns or stoppages, worker strikes or management imposed work rules) not allowed. (See “Arbitration in the Airlines Industry: System Boards of Adjustment” by Thomas J. Kassin and Sarah L. Fuson for more information.)
Major Disputes: Matters affecting rates of pay, rules and working conditions; and the creation or modification of the collective bargaining agreement between the parties. – There is almost total reliance upon collective bargaining for major dispute settlement. Self-help (e.g., strikes and imposed work rules) are permitted after negotiation and mediation procedures have been exhausted.
(Order is subject to change)
- Negotiations Under the Railway Labor Act
- Negotiating for Our Future
- Block hours vs. TFP
- Block or Better vs. Block Delay
- Incentive Pay vs. Productivity Premium Program (PPP)
- Inflight Team Leader (ITL) Pay vs. “A” Pay