Dear Flight Attendants,
Your AFA Negotiating Committee just wrapped up our fourth mediation session October 29-30, 2013. This session was held at the National Mediation Board (NMB) in Washington, DC, and overseen by federal mediator Victoria Gray. We were again joined by transportation economist Dan Akins as our financial advisor. Although we did not reach a tentative agreement (TA) on any sections this session and there is some distance between our positions, we believe there is a willingness on both sides to get a deal in the near future.
On Monday we were joined at the table by Alaska Air Group (AAG) Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Brandon Pedersen. He came to answer any questions we had about Alaska’s stock buy-back program and the recent decision to pay a dividend on AAG stock (NYSE: ALK). AFA believes that if senior management and the AAG Board of Directors are willing to direct significant funds back to the shareholders, our leaders should also be willing to reward their Flight Attendants in kind. Following the discussion with Brandon, management passed us a comprehensive proposal at the end of the day which made some movement toward our position.
We spent Tuesday morning in further evaluation of management’s proposal and in formulating our response. Pat Sims, senior mediator with the NMB, dropped by mid-day to talk about our negotiations and she stayed through the remainder of the day. After we returned from lunch we smelled a weird electrical smell and further investigation revealed smoke coming from the ceiling!
Luckily, our caucus room was filled with first responders and we successfully evacuated in under 90 seconds! (Okay, maybe we’re dramatizing the event ever so slightly.) Seriously, though, we did have to move to a different part of the building after it was discovered that the air conditioning motor had seized up and was smoking. That evening after all the excitement had passed we gave management a comprehensive response to their proposal.
As a consequence of the electrical issue, on Wednesday we were required to relocate to the Hamilton Hotel just down the street from the NMB. AFA Director of Collective Bargaining Clare Burt joined us for the bulk of the day. Mediator Gray met separately with both sides and there was some consultation about how to move the discussion forward. We had a small group discussion with Mediator Gray and the principle members of management’s team which seemed to put the talks back on track. We will continue that dialogue on a conference call early next week and expect to resume mediation in San Diego, CA, November 12-14, 2013.
In the meantime, we appreciate your supportive messages and the faith you show in your representatives at the table. It is a difficult job we are undertaking to better the situation for all of us. Please stay strong, stay informed and together we will prevail!
Your AFA Negotiating Committee – MEC President Jeffrey Peterson, Brian Tracy, Karina Cameron-Fetters, Jake Jones and AFA Staff Negotiator Paula Mastrangelo
“Five Bases, One Voice”