Dear Flight Attendants,
Let’s talk about frustration. The Master Executive Council (MEC) is very much aware that you’re frustrated with negotiations. Believe us, the leadership is frustrated, the Negotiating Committee is frustrated…we’re all feeling it. In one week we will have been negotiating for two full years and we’re all beyond ready to have a new contract. Unfortunately, we can’t reach a tentative agreement (TA) until management makes more movement towards our position on several key issues.
This past week the MEC met with CEO Brad Tilden, COO Ben Minicucchi, VP Labor Relations Shane Tackett and VP Inflight Services Andy Schneider. During that meeting AFA leadership made it very clear to management of the importance a 10 ½ hour duty day and pay guarantees (rigs) are to the Membership. Management was naturally somewhat surprised to still be talking about rigs because the Negotiating Committee withdrew rigs (out of frustration) at the end of last session. The MEC expressed AFA’s desire to continue discussions on rigs but this time with AFA input into the vetting process. This would include full access to the pairing optimizer and selection of parameters, pairing months and costing data.
The parties engaged in an open and honest dialogue but did not walk away with firm commitments on either side. AFA left management with a challenge: to view rigs as just another line item with a defined cost rather than continuing to be “philosophically opposed” to these important pay guarantees. It seemed like a lot of talk without concrete results, but we’ll see.
So where to go from here? We keep on keeping on of course! And, as we have been saying, it’s time to turn up the heat! Please mark your calendars for a day of solidarity actions at strategic Flight Attendant domicile airports throughout the system on Thursday, December 19, 2013. More information regarding planned picketing on this day to follow. We will also be asking Seattle Flight Attendants or Flight Attendants on a Seattle layover to participate in a respectful showing of support for the Negotiating Committee on Tuesday, December 10th; this event will be in conjunction with the first day of mediation in Seattle.
Finally, there are troubling rumors on the line about Flight Attendants planning their own unsanctioned solidarity actions in the coming weeks. We absolutely can’t go there and here’s why: AFA and Alaska are currently engaged in contract negotiations under the Railway Labor Act (RLA). While in negotiations neither party can legally engage in any concerted activity—the Union cannot strike or engage in job actions, and management cannot unilaterally change the existing collective bargaining agreement. Individual Flight Attendants who engage in concerted activity will almost certainly be subject to potential discipline up to and including termination of employment. It’s just not worth it!
AFA is committed to the process under Section 6 of the RLA and by law cannot support, encourage or condone any job action by its members while we are in negotiations. If the parties cannot reach agreement on a new contract, AFA will use all available legal means—up to and including CHAOS™—to leverage its members’ solidarity into seeking the best agreement in the airline industry. But that time has not yet arrived.
Until then, AFA asks that you vent your frustrations by attending the events on December 10th and/or 19th if possible. Sign up for participation by filling in the easy form located here: http://alaskamec.org/solidarity-signup. (It’s unnecessary to sign up again if you have recently contacted your LEC president regarding solidarity opportunities.)
Additional questions or concerns? Go here: http://alaskamec.org/contact-us/.
Your MEC – Jeffrey Peterson, Terry Taylor, Yvette Gesch, Melanie Buker, Laura Masserant, Cathy Gwynn and Sandra Morrow