Negotiations Update January 15 – 17, 2013
Dear Flight Attendants,
We just completed another week of talks at the Alaska Airlines Flight Operations and Training Center in Seattle, WA, and are satisfied to report that we have reached a tentative agreement in Section 8 – Hours of Service and Section 10 – Scheduling. Our sincere thanks to Flight Attendant and former Crew Scheduler Erik Velez for once again joining us this session as our scheduling expert! Both sections contain some very nice improvements. Sections 11 – Reserve, 16 – Sick Leave/On the Job Injury, and 27 – Association Business were also discussed this session. The parties also agreed to devote an entire meeting to discuss looming IT issues which would arise as a result of the changes we are negotiating in our Contract, and that meeting was very informative and helpful. Below are some of the highlights from this week:
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Section 8 – Hours of Service
[Like Sequence] In addition to all the changes we have already reported out, we finally reached accord on the definition of “like sequence.” As we all know, we are awarded a schedule and we plan our lives around it. The time we return to domicile important and the current contract provisions on reassignment, move-up and rescheduling were confusing and inconsistent. We achieved a uniform provision, “like sequence,” that will apply to all situations except 10.T Pre-Cancellation, which will remain unchanged. We also negotiated a pay penalty which will provide a disincentive for the Company from extending the “footprint” of your sequence. Under the “like sequence” provision, you may be reassigned and you have to be back to domicile by the end of the last calendar day of your original sequence—just like today. However, if you return to domicile 4 or more hours later, then you will receive a 1.5x premium for all flights into or exceeding 4 hours, prorated, with a minimum of 1 TFP at premium pay. Additionally, if the reassigned sequence contains 4 or more flights than the original assignment, the same premiums will apply for the TFP value of the 4 or more legs. Finally, the like sequence must be a single sequence—in comparison to the practice today in which you may be given multiple sequences on the same day or days as the original sequence.
[Contactability] Importantly, we reached agreement on “contactability” language. Flight Attendants cannot be denied boarding or exiting hotel vans, check-in at hotels, etc., pending contacting Crew Scheduling. Additionally, if you are contacted by Crew Scheduling while off duty on a layover, you may return the call or wait until the start of your next duty period – AT YOUR OPTION. However, if you choose to answer the call or call back, then you are required to accept the assignment. This is an important protection and should help curb some of the abuse we have all heard about or experienced. If you are contacted while on duty, you must return the call as soon as possible. [RON Rest] While we did not succeed in our bid to increase our 10 hour remain over night (RON) rest, we did significantly improve the penalty provisions. Currently, almost all RONs are at or exceed 11 hours rest. However if your RON rest is reduced below 9:30, then you will be paid 2.5x for the remainder of the sequence. This is an improvement in the penalty start (currently it begins at 9:00) and also to the actual premium in terms of pay and duration (it is 2x pay until you receive legal crew rest today).
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Section 10 – Scheduling. We eliminated the “Min Bid” preference. This option was causing confusion and setting false expectations for FAs. A very small number of FAs were actually receiving this award. Often senior FAs preferencing “Min Bid” would be awarded a higher time line than more junior FAs who had not had that preference. Senior FAs who bid appropriately will still be able to achieve the same result as preferencing for a “min bid” today.
We improved the provision for non-revving FAs to be asked (at their option) to work a flight if they are listed. If you accept, the flights will be paid at 1.5x and the Company will return you to your original destination if that is your desire. The Company has also agreed to publish the PBS Coverage Report (formerly known as the Unstacking Report) to ensure greater transparency.
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While settling Sections 8 and 10 was significant progress in these talks, there remain items still unresolved in several open sections.
12: Exchange of Sequences – Parameters governing Open Time still remain to be resolved.
14: Vacation – We are seeking an extra week of vacation (42 days) at 25 years.
16: Sick Leave/ OJI – Determining how the two sick leave banks interact.
22: Expenses – We are seeking an annual bump in per diem that would happen automatically each year in addition to the increase we have already secured.
29: Profit Sharing and Retirement – 13.5% 401(k) match, similar to the pilots’ retirement plan.
30: Training – We are still fighting for a minimum 4TFP for travel days to training. This is important for FAs based in PDX, LAX and SAN, assuming such training is conducted in Seattle.
Section 27: Association Business – There are several items that are holding open this section.
Section 32: Attendance Policy – There are several items that are holding open this section.
Hotels: We are apart on the concept of short and long layover hotels being in different locations.
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IT Meeting and Issues. Thursday morning was spent with management’s negotiating team and members of Alaska’s IT department to begin discussions on the programming and software changes necessitated by anticipated new contract provisions. This move was initiated by management, and it is a prudent step because in the TA’d sections to date, we have made some major changes which involve programming. Of course, none of that is implemented until AFA members ratify a full Tentative Agreement. But it is important to get ahead of the curve as implementation may take some time. A couple of hurdles we all face is the age and antiquated nature (!) of the current software systems and the fact that programmers are committed for the remainder of this year on making changes to accommodate the new pilot rest rules – FAR 117 (“flight time, duty time”) – which will become effective January 2014. We reviewed a list of changes that would be needed and worked on initial prioritization. These meetings will continue.
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In the near term, we will get into the remaining sections: Section 21 Compensation, Section 23 Insurance, Section 3 Scope, and Duration. These are very important and contentious sections. They go to the very heart of the negotiations struggle: money. So far, negotiations have gone reasonably well and we have been able to get a lot of our issues addressed.
However, soon the intensity of the talks will ratchet up as we put money on the table. Alaska Airlines has been a very profitable carrier for years and Flight Attendants have significantly contributed to that profitability. Management has made smart decisions in guiding our Company in this very turbulent industry and economy. They should continue their smart moves by recognizing the value that Flight Attendants bring to the Company and reward that contribution appropriately.
As we move into this stage of negotiations, it is imperative that ALL of us stay informed and unified. Check out the latest negotiations video update on our You Tube channel (or www.alaskamec.org) and the other resources linked below in ‘References’. We are fighting for improvements for our nearly 3,000 Alaska Flight Attendants and we must speak with one VOICE. Our next session is February 5-7. We may add additional days at the end of February if schedules permit and progress warrants it. As always, if you have questions or comments, please fill out a VOICE Comment Card or you can send an email to email@example.com.
Your Negotiating Committee – MEC President Jeffrey Peterson, Brian Tracy, Karina Cameron-Fetters, Jake Jones and AFA Staff Negotiator Paula Mastrangelo
“Four Bases, One Voice”