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8.02.06 – (LAA) – Buyout of PacifiCare by United Healthcare, Reserve Utilization, Personal Leaves of Absence, Pension Bill

This is Leslie Mayo, National Communications Coordinator, with the APFA Hotline for Wednesday, August 2, 2006.

APFA News:
From the Health Department: APFA met with the Company on July 27th regarding APFA members in California who have been impacted by the buyout of PacifiCare by United Healthcare (UHC). UHC is still in the process of negotiating with doctors to ensure improved access to health care providers. An additional 90 negotiators have been implemented in the area to try to expedite the process and avoid any disruption in care. Currently, if your doctor has not signed a contract with UHC, they will be considered an out-of-network doctor until such time that a contract is signed. The best way to stay apprised of your doctor’s status is to call the 800 number for UHC.

The company tells us that as of July 27th, there were 300 claimants who may be impacted by the buyout. Through negotiations, UHC is hoping to reduce this number. At this time, APFA does not foresee a reduction in benefits. Our health care benefits and costs remain the same. The only down side to this buyout would be if your doctor does not sign on with UHC. So far UHC reports that the previous network had 310 hospitals. So far, there are 330 hospitals in the new network which is a six percent improvement in access to hospitals. The previous network for Physicians was 41,000; the new network contains 43,600 doctors. Contracts are still being negotiated for additional doctors and hospitals. The Company states that there are two areas that still have sparse coverage and are targeted for expedited contracts; the South Bay area and Truckee.

APFA welcomes any feedback from our members related to this buyout and any disruptions it has caused you or your family. Please call 817.540.0108, ext. 8290.

From the Scheduling Department: An expanded reserve utilization range buffer will apply for the first 10 days of August. This means that the buffer for considering reserve preferences will be +/- 25 hours, instead of +/-6. APFA did receive some complaints regarding preferences not being honored in July, but the complaints applied only to dates outside the expanded-range window. This would support the idea that the larger buffer will help. Also, don’t forget to be realistic in your requests. If your base only has early departures, you are not likely to have a PM2 preference honored.

The reserve co-terminal test expanded to two new airports effective August 1st. PBI will be considered out of Time-Accrued Reserve System (TARS) order for the base of MIA, and BWI and IAD will be considered at the DCA/DCA-I bases. SJC and EWR continue to be processed for the SFO and LGA/JFK bases. Be sure to enter your co-terminal preference for day-before assignments and add yourself to the short call reserve list for day-of coverage. See the Reserve Preferences article on the Scheduling Department page for the entries. Don’t forget that paper legalities apply to carry-over vacation trips. A reserve or line Flight Attendant is legal for an assignment 1:15 after scheduled arrival of the vacation trip for Domestic F/As, and 1:30 for International F/As. Don’t forget that HISEND can now be used for MU and Option II. The HISEND message must include specific parameters (like “7+hour turn-around with sit time less than 2 hours, departure prior to 09:00, return no later than 18:00, etc) or specific sequence numbers. If you want to be called in the event that your request cannot be honored, clarify that in the message. If Crew Schedule awards a trip prior to 1900, the trip is considered confirmed and the Flight Attendant is responsible for the assignment. If you have been released from a DHD on origination, you should verify that your TAFB is calculated correctly. Contractually, you will be paid TAFB one hour prior to scheduled departure of the first working leg.

From the Contract Department: The Company is proffering three-month Personal Leaves of Absence (PLOA) for the contractual months of September through November. This proffer will close at 0730 Central Time on Wednesday, August 9. Awards should be posted by the close of business on August 11. You will find the ballot to proffer on the Flt. Svc. Web site’s home page. Once a PLOA is awarded, it may only be rescinded through the hardship process. Therefore, ensure you are willing to accept the leave if you choose to bid for one. Since this leave is greater than 30 days, if you want to maintain your health benefits you must make contributions, and prefunding and any other benefits or insurance you have elected also require contributions to maintain. You should receive a Leave of Absence Rules and Instructions letter in the mail soon after your Leave begins. However, to avoid any disruption or cancellation of benefits you can locate this letter on Jetnet’s Leave of Absence section. PLOAs should be available at most bases except BOS, DCA, DCA-I, LAX-I and SLT. Keep in mind that Occupational seniority (aka bidding seniority) accrues for the first 180 days, Company seniority accrues for the first 90 days and Classification or pay seniority does not accrue on a PLOA. If you are taking consecutive Leaves, accrual is measured from the start of the first leave.

From the Retirement Department, please be sure to keep up with your prefunding payments while you are off payroll. Some Flight Attendants are losing their prefunding and it is next to impossible to get it restored. If you take any type of leave or have not received a paycheck due to dropping trips, be sure you contact employee services at 800.447.2000 to verify how/when you are obligated to pay.

Legislation Update
Pension Bill:
The House passed HR 4 last Thursday that included much of the pension conference report language. Delta and Northwest succeeded in getting favorable language to suit their specific needs; however, because both American and Continental’s plans are not frozen, language to suit our needs is currently found only in the Senate bill. The House left for August recess on Saturday and the Senate is still in full session trying to resolve this matter. Both houses of Congress must ultimately pass on the same language.

H.R. 4 went to the Senate which is in session this week. APFA, AA and other labor groups on the property are calling for fair treatment in the bill. H.R. 4 has been linked to a tax bill that will come first. The pension bill will follow. Many variations on these two bills exist since they have been linked, so we are not asking for a specific “fix” – we simply want equal treatment comparable to the other airlines. In explaining the events on the Hill regarding the airline provision language now in the Senate, one of DFW’s major newspapers misreported AA’s intentions to freeze its employee pension plans earlier this week. This is simply not true. AA issued the following statement on Jetwire to all employees on Tuesday: “AA is not seeking to freeze its employee pensions. American and its employee unions are committed to working with member of Congress to seek passage of the most favorable pension legislation possible.” APFA representatives continue to work closely on this matter.

Industry News: United Airlines posted its first quarterly profit since the year 2000 on Monday. UAL, the parent company announced a profit of $114 million bringing to date the total collective profit for the five largest US carriers to $1.25 billion.

Bankruptcy Watch: The Flight Attendants at Northwest rejected a second T/A under bankruptcy as negotiated by their new union – AFA-CWA – which led the company directly down the route of imposing the first failed T/A of March 1, 2006, as authorized by the Bankruptcy Court. The vote was 45% Yes and 55% No. AFA-CWA and Northwest management both state their interests lie in reaching a compromise. AFA is preparing its newest members for CHAOS strikes throughout the system beginning as soon as August 15th.

The mechanics at Northwest will resume talks with the company on August 16th following one year of no negotiations. The company says it will retain all permanent replacement workers on payroll.

Fuel Watch: As of Monday, July 31st, a barrel of crude oil cost $74.40, up .65 cents from last Wednesday’s price. The crack spread price was $16.64, up .36 cents from last week’s price. This brings the cost of one barrel of jet fuel to $91.04 – up $1.01 from the price of jet fuel a week ago.

One year ago August, the price of a barrel of crude was $64.99, and the crack-spread price was $13.70. The total for one barrel of jet fuel a year ago was $78.69, about $13 less than the price of a barrel of jet fuel today.

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Please remember we have 3,895 APFA members on furlough and ten members serving the military full time. That’s it for this week. Thank you for calling the APFA Hotline.

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