Dear Flight Attendants,
Your Negotiating Committee, along with transportation economist and AFA subject matter expert Dan Akins, will meet in Seattle this coming week (Dec 10th– 12th) for the sixth mediation session with Alaska Airlines management. Once again the session will be facilitated by federal mediator Victoria Gray with the National Mediation Board (NMB).
During our last mediation session in San Diego, much discussion (without much progress) was focused on pay guarantees for unproductive pairings (aka “rigs”). For example, the four (4) TFP minimum per duty period is the only rig we currently have in our contract. AFA is determined to improve the pay for unproductive pairings—such as those with long sits, long layovers without appropriate credit or low-time trips which span several calendar days. Unfortunately, management has been adamantly against expanding rigs—even with a longer duty day.
Not only do rigs guarantee a certain amount of pay for time on duty, rigs are also an “incentive” for management to build efficient and productive pairings. Once rigs are programmed into the pairing optimizer program, the system will attempt to improve efficiency by minimizing those unproductive factors in our schedules. No more wasting our time sitting in airports or hotels without pay; or if any of those unproductive factors remain, then we’ll get paid appropriately! There is no question Flight Attendants don’t mind working—but we want to be paid for all the time when we’re on the clock and away from our homes.
Since our last mediation session much research, study, and consideration has been given to rig potential by both management and AFA. Many thanks to mediator Gray for her efforts in making this happen! Consequently, certain parameters and constraints were agreed upon by both parties to create a comprehensive rigs analysis. This rig study entails having the pairing optimizer build sample pairings from several months from this year.
We anticipate much of this session will be focused on evaluating the sample pairings to determine the benefits and possible disadvantages of rigs from both AFA and management’s perspective. Plus, there’s always the issue of cost and how rigs might affect the overall package. (It always comes down to the money at this stage of the game!)
We’re hoping to have a productive week and that management will give their undivided attention to negotiations. Due to last-minute uncertainty with this session as a result of the rigs study, the parties were forced to change meeting plans. We were unable to lock in the downtown Seattle arrangements not knowing if the rigs study would be completed by the scheduled date and now everything is booked. So…we’re meeting at a less desirable location for focused effort—the Labor Rooms in the Alaska Airlines Flight Operations building. Thankfully, management has thrown ample resources at the study and we’re looking on track for Tuesday.
Since we are meeting on Company property, management could easily be distracted with attempts to multi-task at their regular jobs. So we call on their team to resist all distractions! Now that we are well past two years of actual negotiations (and eighteen months past the amendable date), we’re all anxious to put this struggle behind us! We also call on management to reward us with a far past-due contract which recognizes Flight Attendants’ professional contribution to the phenomenal success of Alaska Airlines!
Your Negotiating Committee – MEC President Jeffrey Peterson, Brian Tracy, Karina Cameron-Fetters, Jake Jones and AFA Staff Negotiator Paula Mastrangelo