Hello, this is Tommie Hutto-Blake, president of APFA, and this is the APFA hotline for Friday, October 8th.
Before I begin to share the APFA week’s events I would like to proffer some thoughts to each and every member of our union. Today, I find myself the president of a union with many challenges. As AA flight attendants we have an employer struggling with a huge debt burden that without a doubt is growing with the current fuel crisis. As a union, following the latest recall of furloughed members, we will still have over 4500 members remaining in furlough status. As members, we seem to remain divided on a number of issues. Some of us are currently actively pursuing lawsuits against us – the APFA. These very active lawsuits are costing all of us hundreds of thousands of dollars each and every month. Both of the seniority integration (SIA) lawsuits and the concessionary bargaining (RPA) lawsuits are just beginning the most costly stages of these complaints – the discovery stage.
For a president that inherited these disputes – it is very frustrating to watch as our own members actively drain our treasury. I have prepared a legal update to be published in our next in order Skyword. This quarterly Skyword will be going to press next week and though as announced the main theme will be our right to vote, I urge you to read closely the printed update on all active law suits.
I do want to state – that whether you voted for me for president of our union or not – from the moment that I became our union’s president – I must take on the responsibility of representing the common interest of each and every member. And that means in theory there should be a dual responsibility. Each member has a responsibility of representing the common interest of the union. Simply put each of us remains responsible to the APFA.
Currently, the AA FAs are in need of a strong financially secure union to be ready at all times to protect and preserve our jobs, work rules and benefits (both current and future). Obviously, we also must have a financially secure employer to maintain these goals of our union. It is all of our responsibility to be a part of the solution to our current challenges – and not to be a part of the problem.
Personally, I would love to see an end to the current polarization within our membership. The “they and the them” of the voices in the field. We can have different viewpoints and debate the issues, without polarizing into unyielding positions. There is a common purpose for each and every one of us – a strong union and a strong company. I urge each of you to consider my thoughts.
Further, I ask each of you to ask yourself “how can I become a part of the solution”? The simple answer is – to pass on correct information to your FA colleagues. Call this hotline each week and encourage others to do the same. Tap into our Web site at least twice a month and encourage others to do the same. Read and carry your next in order Skyword once you receive it in the weeks ahead. Consider becoming an APFA InfoRep and being an official information representative for our union.
As a specific example, recently, we had one LAXI InfoRep who listened to galley gossip, wrote it down and sent it to co-workers where it has been circulating for weeks now. This e-message was full of incorrect information that has floated in -email land- for weeks now. If you become an InfoRep – your primary responsibility is to pass on correct information – make certain that your source is fact based – not political fiction.
It is my hope that we – the members of APFA and the Flight Attendants of AA – will begin to focus on our commons goals in the weeks ahead. We as a workgroup have huge challenges ahead of us. We can and will accomplish our goals and protect our futures – together.
This last week I sat and listened as an invited labor guest to the AA Fall management conference. I heard senior management inform field management that this company has immediate serious challenges. At the same time I watched those most responsible for the success of our company, attempt to both challenge and spark middle management to return to their areas of responsibility with renewed batteries to lead and spark the workers – like us – in this common purpose.
I must say I did feel that a labor voice was missing from conference. Though it was management’s gathering – in my opinion there should have been a more elevated “labor seat” at the table of this conference. I have shared my opinion with management and I assure you that I will continue to press for labor’s seat at the table both during crisis and during success.
And now please stay on the line for the remainder of this week’s hotline. Leslie …
Thanks, Tommie. Today is October 8th and this is Leslie with the rest of the APFA Hotline.
American Airlines noticed APFA that as of Thursday morning, among the 610 furloughed flight attendants offered recall, approximately 500 accepted the offer of recall effective November 17, 2004, and approximately 50 rejected the offer. Final numbers were not immediately available from the Company. The deadline to respond was Thursday, October 7, 2004, close of business. These Flight Attendants will begin training in October during one of four scheduled classes commencing October 20th and will report to base on November 17th. We welcome our furloughees back to the line and hope to see more recalled very soon.
The Buy on Board Task Force has met twice internally over the past week working with the Vice President’s Dept. and APFA’s expert from the 777 Presidential Arbitration, to complete the testing of a survey that will be mailed to all members who’ve worked a Buy on Board flight. Our goal is to have the survey mailed out early the week of Oct. 11th. This survey is meant to address the workload and staffing issues associated with the Buy on Board product. We will keep you updated with our progress.
As a reminder, annual health benefits open enrollment began last week and ends the 31st of October. APFA would like to remind those Flight Attendants who have other medical/dental coverage and do not plan to fly 420 hours annually to waive coverage under the Medical/Dental plan. Be sure to verify that you have actually selected the option: -Waive Coverage- for your 2005 enrollment on JetNet. This is the only time of year most employees will be able to opt out of health benefits.
The rumor mill remains fairly controlled this week, however, the old Seniority Rumor seems to don a new outfit once a week. This week, a letter was posted in the St. Louis Operations area from an unknown source that included part of the Seniority Integration Agreement language and appeared to have been signed by Tommie. No such letter was sent by Tommie related to any assurances that TWA will be gaining any seniority. The only item addressing Seniority of ALL APFA members is included in the Collective Bargaining Agreement – and the only item addressing TWA-LLC Seniority specifically is contained in the Seniority Integration Agreement that was unanimously ratified by the APFA Board in April 2001. Just a friendly reminder: there will be no alterations or settlements to this agreement by APFA. It is in the courts.
We’re planning to print Skyword next week. It addresses the importance of YOUR VOTE. As a reminder, please be sure to register to vote. As most of you know, the APFA Executive Committee has endorsed John Kerry as its Candidate for President. Please review the endorsement letter on the APFA Web site to learn why APFA believes he would be the best candidate to protect our jobs. We’re not telling you who to vote for – we’re telling you whom we’ve endorsed. Whatever your decision, please don’t forget to vote.
With jet fuel hitting an all time high this week, we are urging all Flight Attendants to visit www.apfa.org, click on the -lower fuel prices- link and write Congress. APFA supports American Airlines efforts to lower jet fuel costs. Just six years ago, jet fuel was $10 a barrel. Today, it hovers at $50 per barrel.
APFA also encourages all members to visit the CapWiz link and encourage your representative and Norman Mineta to award the Chicago to Shanghai, China flying to AA, as clearly, this will mean more jobs for our members. Again, you will find this link on www.apfa.org.
The response to the new downtown layover hotel in Paris has been overwhelmingly positive. From meeting the crews upon arrival to having guided walking tours at 1715 each evening, the hotel is really trying to show us how much they appreciate our business.
A hotel review was conducted this week for the LAX short layover hotel and several properties were visited. The Hotel Department hopes to pass along the good news of a new hotel as soon as the contracts are finalized.
We understand the frustration some of you are feeling about the JFK short layover relocation hotel. We are taking all possible measures to procure a new hotel as quickly as possible to replace the temporary short layover hotel for JFK as it appears the strike at the regular hotel may be lengthy.
The Company has agreed to place the pink hotel-debrief forms in the purser packet. Should you have any write-ups please see your purser to get a form and drop it off in the APFA Lockbox so that the Hotel Department may act quickly on any issues that arise.
In the typically dismal industry news this week, we have a little more bad news to share: USAirways and Delta employees discovered that they will not have company-paid health benefits after they retire. Analysts are predicting that Delta may file Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection by the end of the month. Further, the pilots who are in bargaining with Delta have stated they will only agree to pay cuts if the company promises to protect their pension plan in the event of bankruptcy.
Please remember that we have 4541 furloughed flight attendants as of November 18th and 20 of our members on military leave serving in the armed forces.
Thank you for calling the APFA Hotline.