12.17.04 – (LAA) – AFA-CWA Candelight Vigil, Headquarters Becomes Smoke Free, Legislative Action Task Force, US Airways Reaches Tentatve Agreement

This is Cathy Lukensmeyer, APFA Treasurer. Today is Friday, December 17, and you’ve reached the APFA hotline.

This week’s highlight was the AFA-CWA Candelight Vigil and Rally in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. All four APFA National Officers, members of the Executive Committee, many Base Chairs and Vice Chairs and Flight Attendants from across the system joined with members of the TWU and APA, as well as other AAL employees, to support this effort. We met at a pre-arranged location to distribute signs and then walked together to Lafayette Park across from the White House to stand in unity beside our brothers and sisters from AFA-CWA. AFA-CWA President Pat Friend, several AFL-CIO leaders and APFA President Tommie Hutto-Blake delivered impassioned speeches. All appealed to Congress and the Bush administration to protect airline employees’ collective bargaining rights, retirement plans and health care benefits, especially during bankruptcy proceedings. Following the speeches, several hundred protesters, including members of most major airline unions, marched to Freedom Park chanting and carrying signs. We want to thank our fellow APFA members for showing their support of AFA-CWA and we will continue to monitor events at United and US Airways closely.

The last hotline update from the Treasurer’s Department was April 2004, my first month in office. Since that time we’ve accomplished a lot. We have reduced our liability insurance premiums by over $75,000 for this year. We have collected over $65,000 from our insurance carrier for outstanding claims on past legal bills and we are challenging and pursuing an additional $290,000 in both unpaid and/or denied claims. We have issued refund checks to over 500 flight attendants that were due for overpayment last year. And, we are aggressively pursuing dues arrears monies. Since taking office, we have collected nearly $200,000 in back dues. We are currently looking at the legal ramifications of posting the names of those flight attendants who don’t pay their fair share on the APFA website. We will keep you advised on our progress. As if July 1, 2004, your dues reduction took effect. Subsequently, the APFA annual budget has been reduced by over $600,000. In spite of the reduction in income, the business of running the Union must go on, and I’ll admit, it has been quite a challenge. Many capitol improvements have had to be addressed. Here are a few of our ongoing but necessary expenses:

As of January 1, 2005, APFA Headquarters will become a smoke-free building. To accommodate our workers and visitors alike in the winter months, an infrared heating lamp has been installed on the back patio. The former smoking room inside the building is now being reconfigured as much-needed additional office space. Per fire department code, our parking lot has been repaved and re-striped and our door-locking system replaced. And, most importantly, we are finally in the process of phasing out seven-year-old computers that were crashing on a regular basis. So while the Treasurer’s department is aggressive in collections, bringing money back into the Union, we are at the same time conservative in what money gets paid out – while still taking care of the routine upgrades needed to finally bring us into the 21st century.

And now, stay tuned for the rest of the APFA hotline. Rick…

This is Rick Musica, IMA Vice Chair and member of the Legislative Action Task Force, with the rest of the APFA Hotline for Friday, December 17, 2004.

On Tuesday, December 14th, APFA leadership and activist members assembled in Washington, D.C., at an AFA-CWA sponsored rally to show support for UAL and US Airways employees and to protest the announced intention by the executives of these companies to use the bankruptcy courts to abrogate existing contracts and terminate existing pension plans. Despite the frigid temperature, we had an outstanding turnout and we’d like to say thank you to those APFA members who braved the elements and marched from Lafayette Park to Freedom Square. The Rally was attended by hundreds workers from across America. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and other union leaders spoke of the challenges we face collectively as an industry as airline executives continue to force the brunt of concessions on the backs of employees. APFA President Tommie Hutto-Blake joined with AFA President Pat Friend in calling on Congress to “Get to work”!

Also in Washington this week, I joined Jill Frank, APFA Retirement Specialist, and Joan Wages, APFA lobbyist, on their third day of working the Hill. Our focus this week was the hot issue of future pension legislation. Pension reform will be a huge debate as the 109th Congress returns in January. Side-by-side the discussion of pension reform is the need to overhaul the current bankruptcy laws in our country. Labor must place pressure on elected Congressional representatives to create new laws to focus on the interest of workers’ rights to have equal protection in the bankruptcy courts. We have much work to be done in 2005 in Washington and APFA needs more members to get involved. Our hottest issues will be pension and bankruptcy reform, Flight Attendant fatigue, and security training. I urge you to step up to the plate and be a part of our legislative action. We will address this and more in the winter edition of the Skyword to be mailed by month’s end.

APFA President Tommie Hutto-Blake will continue her base visits in New York and Boston this month. On Wednesday, December 22nd, Tommie will be at LGA from 0800 to 1100 and JFK from 1400 to 1700. On Thursday, December 29th Tommie will be at Newark from 0500 to 0800. On December 28th, she will visit the Boston base in the afternoon and again the following morning. BOS times will be announced next week. These visits have resulted in some very productive discussions. Please take some time either before or after your trip to visit with your Union President if at all possible. Several regularly scheduled APFA base meetings and Reps-in-Ops days can be found on the APFA website, under calendars at www.apfa.org. Please visit our website regularly to confirm all goings-on at APFA.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced the crewmember self-defense training dates for the first quarter 2005. This training program will enhance security training and enable Flight Attendants to develop a higher level of competency in self-defense tactics. Classes are limited to 24 volunteer crewmembers per site. The course duration will be 24 hours over the three-day period with approximately 85% hands-on training. Class participation is free for crewmembers; however, travel, lodging and meal expenses are the responsibility of the participant.

TSA, in partnership with the American Association of Community Colleges, has expanded the class to nine community college locations on the following dates.

January 11-13, 2005
February 15-17, 2005
March 15-17, 2005

If you would like to enroll, you may find more information about these courses at www.www.apfa.org and www.aaflightservice.com.

The first-ever APFA leadership summit invitations went out this week to all former National Officers and all candidates from the 2004 National Officer election who are dues-current. This summit will be held at APFA Headquarters Tuesday, January 11, beginning at noon. If you’ve received an invitation, please respond by December 31, 2004.

From the Contract Department: The company has notified APFA that approximately 240 Flight Attendants may find themselves in an overpayment situation due to the fact that they used more PVD’s in 2004 than they will actually accrue. Flight Attendants must be paid a minimum of 420 hours during the calendar year or an average of 35 hours per active month during the calendar year in order to accrue sick and vacation time. If you have used PVD’s during 2004 and have dropped below your vacation accrual threshold, you may want to consider picking up time in order to meet your threshold and avoid an overpayment. Your HISK contains the information concerning your threshold and paid hours for calendar year 2004.

Also, please remember that uniform points do not carry over from one year to the next. Be sure to order any uniform items using your 2004-point allotment prior to the 31st of December.

And from the Scheduling Department: Please make sure you are compensated properly if you held a report early/stay late assignment per the bidsheet. You must submit a claim through HICLAIM to be paid ground time. It’s not automatically credited. Please refer to the Contract, Article 3, Section J.1&2.

In industry news, on Thursday the AFA-CWA Negotiating Committee for US Airways Flight Attendants reached a Tentative Agreement with their Company. The union’s Master Executive Council is still reviewing the concessionary package and details will become available once that process is complete. Earlier, a strike vote was tallied and 5,200 US Air Flight Attendants voted to strike if their company was successful in abrogating their contracts in bankruptcy court. The last time an airline contract was successfully abrogated in court was at Continental in 1983.

On Tuesday, the Air Line Pilots Association reached a tentative concessionary agreement with United Airlines. The union’s Master Executive Council will not release any of the details until the package is reviewed. The deal must still be approved by the rank-and-file before taking effect.

United also imposed cuts on its non-union employees effective January 1. Salaried employees will receive a 4% pay cut, management cuts will be 6% and UAL Officer’s pay cuts will be 8%. The top seven executives will receive 11% less in pay. These temporary pay cuts will, of course, be restored when United exits bankruptcy; however, the labor agreements will remain concessionary.

Yesterday Continental also unveiled wage and benefit cuts for its management and clerical employees. The $48 million cut will take effect February 28.

That’s it for this week. Thanks for calling the APFA Hotline and I hope to see YOU on the Hill!

Please keep our 4,541 furloughed members in your thoughts as well as the 20 flight attendants currently serving full time in the armed forces.

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