You have reached the APFA weekly HotLine update for October 25, 2008. This is Frank Bastien, National Communications Coordinator.
The Fall 2008 APFA Board Convention, the first under our new APFA leadership and since the start of negotiations, concluded Wednesday night October 22 after two days of business. Negotiations strategy was discussed at length, with the Board coming together in unity to develop an aggressive plan to achieve an agreement with American by May 1, 2009, the one-year anniversary of our contract’s amendable date. It is clear, however, that our collective success depends on you, the membership: your commitment, your involvement and your support.
We are facing the greatest challenge in our Union’s history. American will spend huge sums of money to keep the 2003 contract in place, at our expense, while rewarding top management every year with undeserved bonuses. Your Board agrees that this is unacceptable, that we cannot allow American Airlines management to brush us aside.
We are facing a company with virtually unlimited funds, which has shown no conscience in sinking those funds into keeping employees down, with substandard wages and unreasonable scheduling. In the face of such a challenge, the Board unanimously agreed to authorize a referendum be sent to the APFA membership in early 2009 requesting an increase in APFA dues, to build our resources as we fight to regain what weíve lost.
The proposed increase would amount to $2.50 per paycheck, while providing a “snap-back” a reduction of $2.00 per month ñ three months after a new contract is ratified. More details about the referendum dates and procedures will be announced once finalized. Watch for a letter from the APFA Board of Directors coming to your home soon.
This is a campaign we can win, if we stand together as we have so valiantly in the past. Many of you remember our successful strike 15 years ago. We won that fight, and we can win this one, with solidarity.
Your APFA Negotiating Team reports that the scheduling subcommittees from both sides have continued talks over Article 10, Reserve. The subcommittees heard a presentation from the Horizon programming group. This group is working with American to develop an enhanced crew scheduling/crew tracking system that will eventually replace FOS. Additional meetings were planned for this past week. The compensation subcommittees also have met and signed off on two additional articles: Article 14, Seniority List and Article 33, No Strike-No Lockout. Neither party had any changes to these articles. The subcommittees have also exchanged proposals on Article 5, Uniforms and Accessories, Article 12, Filling of Vacancies and Article 19, Leaves of Absence. Those discussions are ongoing. Internal meetings for the subcommittee were scheduled for this past week. Remember that your APFA Negotiating Team can be contacted directly via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Company has rethought its poorly-received and recently-announced decision that Perfect Attendance passes would expire at the end of this year despite earlier promises that they would have no expiration date. This policy change brought a louder than normal chorus of protest from employees in every work group who depended on the Company keeping its promise when they terminated the issuance of Perfect Attendance awards several years ago. In a turnabout, the Company has relented and revised its scheme, now planning to ìsunsetî the passes at the end of 2009, while revising its process of using the passes in order to meet its goal of ticketless travel. Maybe they can use the extra time themselves to review their basic English grammar and properly define the phrase: ìÖ do not have an expiration date for use.î
Check the Wings Foundation website at www.wingsfoundation.com for the latest events and Wings Rep contact information for your base.
Remember there are still 1,184 of our members on furlough and awaiting recall. And thank you for calling the APFA HotLine.
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In other business during the Fall 2008 APFA Board of Directors Meeting, DFW Flight Attendant Liz Geiss was elected to fill vacant Ad Hoc position #5 on the Executive Committee.
In industry news, a second week of airline earnings reports brings similar news to last weekís. United Airlines reported a loss of $779 million for the 3rd quarter of 2008 ñ the months of July, August and September. Northwest Airlines reported a loss of $317 million for the same period. US Airways reported an $865 million loss while Alaska Airlines recorded a loss of $86.5 million. Low cost carriers JetBlue and AirTran reported losses as well. JetBlueís loss amounted to $4 million, while AirTranís was $107 million. Fuel costs of one sort or another are blamed again for the losses, but in the topsy-turvy world of airline economics, it is the declining cost of jet fuel that is bizarrely responsible for the bulk of the industry red ink.
The very maneuvers that were praised and encouraged several months ago as oil prices were skyrocketing ñ namely fuel hedges, locking in the price of fuel today for deliveries in the future ñ are now being blamed for the poor results. Even Southwest, the undisputed king of hedging, had to write down the value of hedge contracts, many of which now cost airlines more than the present rate for fuel as world oil prices plunge. What other business than the airline biz suffers huge losses from rising oil prices, and huge losses from Ö falling oil prices!
The APFA Health Department has the following advice concerning your life insurance selections during Benefits Enrollment. This year you will be seeing two separate elections for Basic and Voluntary Term Life Insurance. Previously, Basic and Voluntary Term Life Insurance were combined and listed on the enrollment form as Contributory Term Life Insurance. The Basic Term Life Insurance is a contractually negotiated benefit which provides term life insurance coverage of 2 x pay up to $70,000 at no cost to the employee. The Voluntary Term Life Insurance is optional coverage which employees may purchase over and above that which is provided by the company. There is a default election for the voluntary coverage which is based on the level of coverage you had for 2008. Please review both of these coverage elections carefully to make sure that you have a clear understanding of your options. If you prefer not to take the voluntary term life insurance, you may elect to waive this coverage. Please contact a health rep at APFA headquarters if you have any questions. Email: email@example.com or call headquarters extension 8301.
The enrollment period for your 2009 benefits runs through October 31. An HI6 message issued recently by the Company is important enough to be repeated here:
U.S. employees who submitted their 2009 benefit elections, and then made subsequent changes on or before Monday, Oct. 13, should access the Benefits Service Center to verify that their current elections are accurately recorded on their Benefits Election Summary. While initial elections were saved, follow-up changes to benefits and dependent information may not have been recorded. Corrections to the Benefits Service Center have been made, but anyone who made changes after submitting initial elections should revisit the Benefits Service Center and verify changes. Employees can make changes to 2009 benefit elections as many times as they want before the enrollment deadline of midnight, Central Daylight Time Friday, Oct. 31, 2008.
The APFA Health Coordinator strongly advises all Flight Attendants to carefully review information regarding their 2009 Health Benefits enrollment arriving in the mail and available on the benefits section of Jetnet. Unlike in prior years, the company has contracted with additional plan administrators. Depending on your plan and your address, you may see a change to your default administrator. Additionally, the Point-of-Service plan (POS) permits you to choose another of the three administrators at an additional cost. If you are accustomed to allowing your choices to carry-over from the previous year without going online to complete your elections, you may find yourself with a new plan administrator for 2009. Donít be caught unaware. Review the benefits information and make an informed choice.
There is a change from what was announced previously regarding the procedure for those who opt out of benefits coverage. If you opted out of coverage for 2008 and fail to make an election for 2009, your opt-out status will carry over into the new year. This information supersedes what we had been advised and what was announced in earlier HotLines. The Health Department recommends that all Flight Attendants actively make an enrollment selection this year and not depend on rolling over to the default choices. Additionally, it is always a good idea to print a copy of your completed enrollment form for your records.
Do you know where you will be on Election Day? Absentee or early voting is the way to ensure your voice is heard in the upcoming U.S. National Elections. To find out how to vote absentee or vote early in your state, call or visit the website of your local election board, or go online to any number of informational websites. One recommended site is www.longdistancevoter.org linked to from our main page. This site can assist you in applying for an absentee ballot or casting an early vote in the event you may be away from your polling place on November 4.
Speaking of voting, in a resolution passed September 15 during the second quarterly meeting of 2008, the APFA Executive Committee unanimously endorsed Illinois Senator Barack Obama for U.S. President in the upcoming national elections. In a letter to the Senator, President Laura Glading stated: “Your work as a community activist, Illinois State Senator and U.S. Senator has demonstrated your commitment and support of the issues that are critical to the economic prosperity of workers and working families.” In a national press release announcing the endorsement, President Glading declared “On every issue important to Flight Attendants Ö Senator Obama has been in our corner. From protecting health and safety in the workplace to fighting for U.S. jobs to preserving Medicare and Social Security and advocating a fair and just tax policy for working families, Senator Obama is on our side.î You will find a link to the Obama endorsement press release on the APFA website main page.