March 2, 2013
Dear Flight Attendants,
The Master Executive Council (MEC) and the Negotiating Committee continue to hear rumors, confusion and frustration surrounding the provisions in the Section 12 Exchange of Sequences Tentative Agreement specific to Open Time. Many of the concerns focus on the stepped opening of trading by seniority quartiles, or the Quartile System. The intent of the new system is NOT about dividing us along seniority lines. It is about creating a system that is functional for all Flight Attendants. Understandably, upon initial view the Quartile System seems to penalize junior employees. However, the Negotiating Committee believes that is NOT the case when the entire system and all the changes are considered.
Let’s review the current Open Time system:
- Pre-funded with no less than 25% of FA base population in TFP of unawarded (undesirable) trips
- Opens with 12 days open for 24 hours, almost always “checker-boarded” to prevent repositioning of days
- In order to trade out of any of the days in a sequence, those days must be open in OT
- Management can close any day at their discretion
- If you want to trade a trip for another trip with less legs, there can only be a 3-leg difference
- OT is essentially closed and locked up 24 hours after it opens
The current OT system is broken. We can all agree on that.
Before we even discuss the Quartile System, lets look at the other improvement in the proposed Open Time system:
- No pre-funding of Open Time, so there will be more Lineholders who will have their lines built with these trips; this will also result in less Reserves. (There has been no contractual increase to the line average so everybody else should not be required to fly more to absorb these trips.)
- OT opens on the 15th (earlier than today) with NO days closed initially.
- FAs can simply DROP a trip into OT if the day of the trip departure is open without having to pick a trip up.
- All days of the trip (say a 4-day) do NOT have to be open, just the first day in order to drop the trip into OT.
- Concrete, contractual thresholds for closing an OT day (not management discretion).
- The only trips considered into the OT closing threshold are FA drops and coupon drops (coded TR and CP in eMaestro)
- If you want to trade a trip on a closed day, there is no 3-leg difference restriction like today
- If a FA picks up a TR or CP trip on a “closed” day, that day will reopen
- Complete transparency so you can see if a day is open or closed and why
Now let’s tackle the Quartile System…
**Once a quartile opens, it does NOT close**
The current system encourages Flight Attendants to trade their low-quality trips into OT and it quickly becomes clogged up with these trips and closes. By employing a stepped access to OT by seniority, it slows the process down and results in better quality trips being placed in OT first (because those trips are more likely to be awarded to more senior FAs). Then when the next quartile opens, those FAs get a crack at higher quality trips than they would have normally held or have access to in OT today. Finally, when the last quartile opens, the assumption is that even the Flight Attendants that quartile will initially have access to better quality trips in OT than they would have held on their lines or have access to in OT today.
We are not trying to restrict any one seniority range. The Quartile System is in place only for the first 4 days of the opening of OT (15th – 18th of the month prior). The new system allows for an orderly and rational opening of OT trading. Not the mad, dysfunctional rush that it is now.
We ask you to consider the changes in their entirety and to make your judgment based on all the elements of the new system and who this fits into the overall tentative agreement.
Your Negotiating committee – MEC President Jeffrey Peterson, Brian Tracy, Karina Cameron-Fetters, Jake Jones and AFA Staff Negotiator Paula Mastrangelo
“Four Bases, One Voice”