Today is Friday, September 23, and this is Jill Frank, Retirement Specialist, with the APFA Hotline.
For the third week in a row, APFA leaders joined American Airlines executives, members of the Allied Pilots Association (APA) and the Transport Workers Union (TWU), our lobbyists and a number of consultants to deliver a critical message to lawmakers on Capitol Hill. We are encouraging Congress to adopt legislation that includes American Airlines in any airline-specific provisions. We want the same interest rate and amortization period to fund our pension plans as some distressed carriers would get but without having to freeze our plans. Collectively, we pointed out that at AA labor and management are all on the same page on this very important issue. We asked that legislation be crafted that would recognize our efforts. It’s our belief that many of the meetings we’ve had with Senators, Representatives and their staffs have been productive and that our message is reaching them.
Currently there are two bills in the Senate and one in the House regarding overall pension reform . The process is that the majority and minority leaders of the respective committees in both the House and Senate will review these bills and ultimately pass them to the floor of each branch of Congress. There they must be passed by the full body. At that point, the leadership from both branches have to agree in Conference before any new law is passed on to the President.
Time is of the essence in this effort. We must convince Congress that our requests come from all of the employees at American Airlines, not just our team on the Hill. The best message to an elected representative comes from a constituent, someone who lives in the state or district from which that person has been elected. This is where we need your help. Some of the most influential Senators and Representatives on this subject are from states where we have very few members. We have composed a sample letter and a suggested phone dialogue to assist you. Both will be available on the APFA website or by contacting APFA Legislative Representative Rick Musica at extension 8109 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
We believe that this important legislation may take shape soon so the time to act is NOW – it is your future benefit we are trying to save and we need your help!
The states whose Senators need to be contacted are:
OHIO Offices of Senator Mike DeWine
MONTANA Offices of Senator Max Baucus
IOWA Offices of Senator Charles E. Grassley
WYOMING Offices of Senator Michael B. Enzi
On a different but related topic, there is currently a rumor circulating that it is somehow more beneficial to retire now if you are eligible rather than wait until the time you may have been planning to go. Certainly, things are in a state of flux at this moment. However, the decision to retire is a huge one and the correct time to do so is an individual decision that needs to be made by each FA, in conjunction with his or her family, financial advisors and a host of other factors. There is NO universal time or plan. It is irresponsible to suggest that anyone give up a job in this time of economic uncertainty if he or she is not ready.
For one thing, if the worst were to happen and our pension plan was turned over to the PBGC, their maximum pension amounts are age based and apply even if you are already receiving your pension. The PBGC maximum is $45,000 per year at age 65. The older you are when they begin paying your benefit, the higher the amount. Should the worst happen and you are still employed, you can at least remain that way longer so that your benefit wouldn’t be subject to as much of a reduction.
APFA has gone to great lengths to educate our members and representatives about pensions. There are trained reps at every base and at headquarters; they know where and how to get information. Please use these resources, stay informed on our joint efforts and help APFA to defend our pension – for without a pension, our career dissolves into the job it once was.
Now here’s Denise Pointer, DFW InfoRep, with the rest of today’s hotline.
This is Denise Pointer, DFW InfoRep, with the remainder of the APFA hotline for Friday, September 23.
Please continue to keep our 4,126 furloughed Flight Attendants and our 12 co-workers who are serving full time in the military in your thoughts.
The Fall 2005 Skyword went in the mail this week and should be reaching your mailbox shortly. Included in this issue is an opinion card on theSpeaker Reduction Test currently underway. Be sure to fill out and return your survey card either by U.S. mail or an APFA lockbox no later than October 32, 2005.
On Wednesday of this week, the presidents of the APFA and the Allied Pilots Association presented a letter signed by the leaders of both unions and the Transport Worker’s Union Locals 513, 541, 542, 565, 567 representing more than 50,000 employees of American Airlines, to Congressman Chet Edwards of Texas, asking for his support in maintaining the Wright Amendment , limiting flying out of Love Field. In part, the letter stated, “The net effect of repealing the Wright Amendment could be devastating to American, our employees, and the other 268,000 Texans who rely on DFW Airport for employment…A recent study predicted that repeal of the Wright Amendment would cost DFW up to 200 flights per day and 21 million passengers a year. If American, and other airlines are forced to move assets to compete with Southwest out of Love Field, it will dilute revenue, increase noise, increase airspace congestion, strain the assets of American, and put hundreds of jobs at risk.” The fulltext of the letter is available on the APFA website at www.www.apfa.org.
Congressman Michael C. Burgess, a strong proponent of DFW and the Wright Amendment, will host a Town Hall Meeting in Denton, TX , this Saturday, September 24, 2005, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. The Congressman will address important issues affecting the community, with the Wright Amendment as one of the most urgent issues and it is essential to express our continued support for his efforts to fight repeal. The meeting will be held at the Denton ISD/C.H. Collins Athletic Complex, Banquet Room at 1500 Long Road (1 block west off FM 428/Sherman @ Loop 288) in Denton.
In addition, on Monday, September 26, DFW Airport CEO Jeff Fegan will make a presentation to the Westlake, TX, Mayor and Board of Aldermen. Mr. Fegan will be addressing the group on the importance of the Wright Amendment with the goal of getting the city to pass a resolution to show their support for preserving the Amendment. The meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. at the Westlake Municipal Complex, 2650 JT Ottinger Road, Westlake TX, and AA employees are encouraged to attend to show their support.
From the Scheduling Department: APFA and AA Crew Schedule have worked together to come to a resolution regarding PVD’s granted for trips with one duty period that touch two calendar days. Previously, when a Flight Attendant requested a PVD for a single trip (one duty-period) that touched two calendar days (for instance a turn that departs JFK at 15:00 and returns at 00:30 the following morning), and he or she had several of these trips scheduled in a row, one in the series could not come off by itself. All of the trips in the series had to be removed by a vacation day or mini-leave. Beginning September 15th, AA implemented a procedure to remove just an individual trip as requested. The removal will be with a Code 13 when the PVD or ER is granted, then, the day the trip departs, the V6 or ER code will be input. This positive change should allow you to use your vacation days more effectively.
From the Contract Desk: The Atlanta satellite base will open as a test beginning with the contractual month of October. Please do not bid or pick-up an ATL sequence unless you plan to fly it. In addition, when searching open time, we encourage the use of the N4D entry, as it is the only entry that will identify the origination and termination airport if it is other than MIA. The full entry is N4D/base city//date. The Flight Attendants who live in ATL have put a tremendous amount of work into preparations to become a satellite-test base. We applaud their efforts and wish them success.
Syndicated columnist Debbie Schlussel published a scathing review of the latest airline movie, “Flight Plan,” this week, berating the portrayals of a Flight Attendant and Federal Air Marshall as terrorists. She called this an outrage in the face of the heroism of Betty Ong and Amy Sweeney, whom she called heroes for calling ground crews, identifying hijackers rather than calling their own families to say good-bye. She also decried the portrayal of the other non-terrorist Flight Attendants as arrogant, cold, uncaring, lazy and rude.
APFA’s PR specialist,Lori Bassani, is quoted in the article saying, “ The portrayal of flight attendants in this movie demonstrates an insensitive and flagrant disregard for the very real challenges facing the front line of defense (the flight attendants) on any aircraft in an emergency situation. Should there be another 9/11, it would be critical for the cabin crew to have the support of their passengers, not the distrust that this movie may engender. Our fellow crewmembers who perished in the line of duty deserve more respect. ” Schlussel calls for a boycott of this movie. We couldn’t agree more – boycott this film!
In industry news this week, bankrupt Northwest Airlines has announced plans to lay off 1,400 flight attendants by January. The airline, which is negotiating pay cuts with employee groups, says Flight Attendant furloughs will start in late October.
Delta said it will cut 9,000 jobs as part of its restructuring plan. The carrier will also lower employee pay and change its network. They wants to lower costs by $3 billion a year by the end of 2007, in addition to a previous cost-savings goal of $5 billion a year by the end of 2006
Industry analysts have said that bankruptcy filings and the possible termination of their pension plans by NWA and Delta will help the two bankrupt carriers cut costs and will put more pressure on AA and Continental to reduce costs as well. Analysts did point out, however, that American and Continental have strong hubs, fuel-efficient fleets and the ability to lower costs further.
That’s it for this week. Thanks for calling the APFA hotline.