This week will mark the start of merger negotiations with management. The Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) will attend AFA negotiations training in Seattle at the beginning of the week. The JNC is comprised of three Flight Attendants appointed by the MEC: two Alaska Airlines Flight Attendants, Jennifer Wise MacColl and Lindsey Steele, and one Virgin America Flight Attendant, Jamie Cogen. MEC President Jeffrey Peterson is chairperson of the committee and AFA Senior Staff Negotiator Paula Mastrangelo rounds out the committee as the professional negotiator. After training and preparation early in the week, the first meeting with management will occur on Wednesday and Thursday.
This initial session will be confined to discussing transition issues necessary to combine Flight Attendants at each carrier into one employee group and covered by a single collective bargaining agreement. The occasion will also provide an opportunity to get further details from management on merger plans and updated timelines and to reaffirm AFA’s position that we are looking for targeted improvements. However, discussing specific improvements will not be a subject for this first meeting and will be addressed later.
Keep in mind that merger negotiations are a different process than regular negotiations. These talks are not under the jurisdiction of the National Mediation Board or Section 6 of the Railway Labor Act, and neither side believes that the entire contract is open for discussion. Discussions will focus on a short list of items, and all the provisions in our Contract (pay raises, etc) will continue in force.
What are some of the transition issues necessary to merge the two Flight Attendant groups?
- How VX FAs will transition to the uniform and how uniform points will translate.
- How sick leave will be converted.
- How transition (aircraft differences) training will be accomplished for AS and VX FAs.
- Attendance policy – how points will be handled for past occurrences for VX FAs.
- Ensure that VX FAs get credit for “time served” on probation and are not subject to another probationary period on the Alaska side.
- Confirm that the VX FAs will retain their vacation slots.
- How 401(k) plans will be transitioned.
- …and more.
There are many items that must be carefully considered so VX and AS Flight Attendants will be on equal footing in relation to the many provisions in the Alaska contract. The Joint Negotiating Committee and management will work to define the scope of transition issues that must be addressed. Again, the parties will take up this task before discussing improvements. We know you will be very interested in knowing more about AFA’s bargaining objectives and potential “improvements,” but it is too early in the process to discuss those in a meaningful way. Once the JNC completes talks this week and defines the strategy going forward, we will provide you with another update.
Your MEC – Jeffrey Peterson, Brian Palmer, Linda Christou, Lisa Pinkston, Laura Masserant, Cathy Gwynn, Melissa Osborne, Tim Green and Brice McGee
Your JNC – MEC President Jeffrey Peterson, Jennifer Wise MacColl, Jamie Cogen, Lindsey Steele and AFA Senior Staff Negotiator Paula Mastrangelo