Representing the Flight Attendants
of American Airlines

Representing the Flight Attendants of American Airlines

06.17.05

Today is Friday, June 17th – this is Tommie Hutto-Blake with the APFA Hotline.

This week your APFA national officers met with the officers of TWU and APA – as well as Gerard Arpey and his staff. Among other things, we reviewed the financial results of AMR’s 2nd Quarter thus far, reviewing the summer projections and finalizing our joint pension statements for our June DCA 22nd Hill Day. As you know, jet fuel has again climbed quite close to April’s record numbers. In fact at one point this week the market rate reached $58 a barrel. No one has a crystal ball to show us what the summer outcome will be. What the industry and Congress are about to see next week, though, is that AA – its unions and employees – are seeking another path as we try together to bring this proud old airline back to profitability.

Though oil prices have a direct correlation to AA’s bottom line – it is a factor over which labor or management has no control as it relates to our company’s future growth or decline. What we do have control over, however, is our strategy toward the way we project ourselves as a company. Internal debate regarding important employee issues is healthy. Taking our internal debate to our customers on board our flights is destabilizing. Protecting the future of our company and our employee base must remain our focus.

This is a risky and new approach – clearly different than any in AA’s history. American Airlines and its unions have a chance to write a new labor/management chapter. What we are observing on other airline properties is a management/labor-relations model that is broken. What is certain is a new course must be set on our own property . . . if we are to be successful.

Next week we hope to get the attention of the industry, Congress, and our country. If you are not with us in Washington, D.C., on Lobby Day, I urge you to pick up a copy of USA Today on June 22nd. The people of AA have begun our campaign to have our voices heard.

It is time to stop this horrible cycle of broken promises and begin to rebuild our airline together. As a workgroup, the Flight Attendants at AA have made huge sacrifices and we have great stakes in the future success of AA. As your President, it is my opinion that it is time to take some risks – to try a new path – with the potential of being the industry leader once again. We have a lot to gain if we can forge this new path – together.

Without labor involvement I do not believe that our company will return to a profitable future. I am firmly convinced that the support of the employees is paramount to our Company’s success. The workers of AA need to be convinced with solid examples that the management and labor leadership have a committed plan that includes protecting the future of both the employees and the company. I can assure you that it is in our best interest that the APFA leadership embarks on this constructive path.

I believe, in the end, that employee morale will be the biggest competitive advantage AA will have in this dog-eat-dog industry of ours. Morale cannot be noted on a balance sheet . . . but in our industry, it is a priceless commodity. Next week in Washington, we plan to show Congress that AA and its workforce have a collective goal to protect our pensions – not terminate, nor freeze – by giving us some new legislative rules so that AA can continue to fully fund our plans as we move beyond our current challenges.

Again, being proactive brings risks. I say having a strategy and working to seek solutions brings with it personal investment and pride. We welcome your activism to this process. We encourage your suggestions, your concerns, and your input. This is our company and our union that we want to restore to health. Both of these organizations are at risk without a plan of action. You can chose to stand on the sidelines and complain or criticize or you can choose to give your time, energy, and actions toward more positive solutions. I urge you to get involved and share your energy.

I will close my portion of tonight’s hotline with a very simple statement made a long time ago by Margaret Mead – “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed individuals can change the world, indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

And now please stay on the line for the remainder of this week’s hotline. Leslie,

This is Leslie Mayo, National Communications Coordinator, with the rest of the hotline for Friday, June 17.

Please remember our 4,194 furloughed flight attendants and the 12 APFA members serving full time in the armed forces. The reduced number of furloughed flight attendants takes recent attrition into account.

The summer issue of Skyword was mailed out this week and should be reaching you shortly. Be sure to turn to the center section for your We’re Restless bagtag inserts and your “When Do I Go Illegal” chart.

The Fly-in to Washington, D. C., is set for June 22. Members of all three unions on AA’s property, along with other AA employees and management, have volunteered their time to lobby on Capitol Hill for pension reform that will allow American to keep defined benefit programs in place. We look forward to seeing all of you who signed up for this event next Wednesday. Remember to wear your uniform.

APFA would like to remind you that if you encounter problems with co-workers, our Professional Standards representatives are there to help you resolve the issue. Please contact them rather than going to management over issues that arise on the airplane. These individuals are trained to deal with sensitive situations and their intervention may provide vital assistance to someone. If you involve management, they will take action, which can include discipline or termination. Please allow Professional Standards to handle the problem.

From the APFA Contract Department: based on Flight Attendant feedback and subsequent discussions with the Company, when bidding to hold a transcon flight, Flight Attendants will no longer be required to hold the AFS qualification. This training will still be available but it is now strictly voluntary. Also, in order to reduce the time Flight Attendants spend holding on the phone for the Training Support Desk, enrollment times will be staggered by base. This applies to self-enrollment as well. This will NOT affect the number or availability of class slots allocated to each base.

Regarding the upcoming Speaker Test beginning with the July bid month – take note: First, in order to provide greater flexibility for those speakers serving reserve, there will no longer be separate reserve lines published for language. This will provide a balance for all Flight Attendants serving reserve. And second, in response to the concerns that the reduction in speakers on board may affect service and/or safety, if a language-qualified Flight Attendant bids and holds a galley position, it will not be considered to have fulfilled the language requirement for that flight. This is a continuation of the practice as it is today. It will help ensure that a language-qualified Flight Attendant is more likely to be available in the aisle if needed.

In rumor control this week, there was an overwhelming interest in an alleged incident on board an aircraft reportedly involving a Union Representative. These rumors have caused an interest so great that I found myself wondering how we could generate the same amount of interest in the real issues that impact our futures as Flight Attendants like Pension Reform, lobbying Congress on fatigue and record-high fuel prices.

For those of you with an interest in the “facts” of this particular situation, as with all Flight Attendant issues that come to the attention of the Company and APFA, they are required to remain confidential and should not be reported in detail to the membership. As the APFA Constitution states in Article II,3,C, “All members of the APFA shall have the right to individual privacy.” Additionally, every single American Airlines Flight Attendant deserves the same level of equal representation and confidentiality from their union.

As I mentioned earlier, Professional Standards is the best route to take when you feel compelled to report an issue. Writing your issue up to the company has always been an inappropriate way to resolve issues between our members.

In industry news this week, the government assumed control of the first of four pension plans it intends to take over from bankrupt United Airlines. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation took control of the account representing 36,000 ground workers, a spokesman for the agency said. At termination, the plan had $1.3 billion in assets and $4 billion in promised benefits for a total under funding of $2.7 billion. The government says it will insure about $2.1 billion of the shortfall.

Northwest Airlines announced this week its intention to charge employees an annual fee for travel benefits. Starting in July, workers will pay $50 per year per person to participate in the employee travel program. Northwest executives have said the fee is necessary to offset costs related to the non-revenue travel.

Despite strong union opposition, a bankruptcy judge on Thursday approved a plan by US Airways to create a severance package for about 1,800 management employees. The airline argued that it needs an incentive to prevent managers from leaving the company prior to the airline’s anticipated merger with America West. Theoretically, the payments could total more than $50 million if every eligible employee received them. The company estimated that up to one-half of management could eventually be eligible for the payments; U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Stephen Mitchell estimated that the program would likely cost $20 million to $28 million.

Jeff Miller, a spokesman for the Communications Workers of America, which represents reservations agents and other passenger service employees, reported that more than 2,000 CWA members signed a petition opposing the severance packages. US Airways unions said that it is a slap in the face to reward management after labor groups agreed to steep pay cuts to keep the airline afloat.

Alaska Airlines reached a tentative agreement on a four-year contract with its 700 aircraft mechanics this week. Louie Key, regional director for AMFA, said he was pleased with the proposed pact, which “provides job security language and wage increases that are unique in the current industry environment.”

That’s it for this week. Thank you for calling the APFA Hotline.

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