The AFA Alaska-Virgin America Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) wrapped up our tenth merger negotiations session last week January 24-25 in Seattle, WA. We are now in our eleventh session this week and are currently meeting with management today (January 29) in Seattle.
Representing management: Vice President of Alaska Airlines and Virgin America Inflight & Call Center/Guest Services Jeff Butler (last week), Managing Director of Labor Relations Elizabeth Ryan, Virgin America Manager of Labor Emily Kimmel and Virgin America Supervisor of Crew Pay Peter Silberstein.
As mentioned in the prior merger negotiations update, the parties reached tentative agreement on several important comprehensive proposals the week before last. The parties continued to close out the remaining open items last week and our efforts resume this week. Based on progress in recent sessions, the JNC is comfortable reporting that we have made substantial progress towards achieving a comprehensive agreement.
Consistent with AFA’s policy, there is no comprehensive Tentative Agreement (TA) until all provisions have been finalized. Once all items have been agreed between the union and the company, the JNC would then present a full text TA to the Master Executive Council (MEC) for approval. In turn, MEC approval consists of the MEC voting whether to release the TA for membership ratification.
Now that Alaska Airlines has achieved Single Operating Certificate (SOC), it is not surprising that Virgin America (VX) Flight Attendants are very concerned over not yet being brought up to the Alaska pay rates. AFA completely agrees that VX FAs should have been at the Alaska pay rates long before now. In fact, AFA advocated for full Alaska pay rates for VX FAs when AFA first achieved representation back in April 2017. (See the April 28, 2017 “[VX] Virgin America Flight Attendant Wage Increase” update for more information.) Be assured that AFA and management have been actively discussing our membership’s expectation that VX FAs receive equal pay.
The JNC is scheduled to meet in Seattle the entire week next week (February 5-9) as a final push towards completing a TA.
Your JNC – MEC President Jeffrey Peterson, Jennifer Wise MacColl, Jamie Cogen, Lindsey Steele and AFA Senior Staff Negotiator Paula Mastrangelo
Keep in mind that merger negotiations are a different process than regular negotiations. Discussions are focusing on a limited list of Flight Attendant priorities. All the provisions in the AFA Alaska contract (scheduled pay raises, etc.) will continue in force for pre-merger Alaska Airlines Flight Attendants; all the provisions in the Virgin America work rules will remain in effect for pre-merger Virgin America Flight Attendants unless modified and/or superseded by the AFA Virgin America letters of agreement.