APFA weekly HotLine update for Friday, March 19, 2010
- AMR bargaining: the refrain is the same
- AA’s Flight Attendant cost accounting: number one on the fiction list
- Good Faith bargaining is not a one-way street
- Our airline’s future prospects? Depends on which AMR is speaking
- Mark your calendar. Informational Road Show schedule announced (calendar)
- British Airways Flight Attendants set dates for weekend job actions
BARGAINING IMPASSE: AMR BUSINESS AS USUAL?
As scheduled shortly following the breakdown of talks on March 3, APFA President Laura Glading met the three-member National Mediation Board on Tuesday, March 16 and presented APFAís request for release into a 30-day cooling off period, at the end of which the union would be free to strike. Commenting on the request afterward, Glading noted: ìIt is impossible not to see the unfortunate cycle of bargaining that has developed at American and which has become an almost inevitable feature of our company’s history. So many requests for release have been filed by APFA and other unions at AA over the past decades that one should be permanently etched in the wall at the NMB, just waiting for the union name and date to be filled in.”
With the TWU requesting release on the 11th, APFA on the 16th and with the Pilots’ talks seemingly in an endless holding pattern, one has to wonder: just what is an airline without Flight Attendants, Pilots and Ground Workers? Centreport is the answer, of course. And that would be enough if all the business traveler or vacationer expected from the fare paid were fancy headquarters buildings in Ft. Worth full of junior accountants and lawyers intent on extracting every penny from those actually providing the service this company sells.
Said President Glading, “Flight Attendants, Pilots and Ground Workers have invested their lives in this airline, rescued it from the brink of bankruptcy in the 2003 AMR bailout and deserve better than to be treated like just another threat to the undeserved bonuses filling executives” bank accounts. Fact is, AA Flight Attendants love their jobs. We have been here through good times and bad, building and supporting this airline, rescuing it when we’ve had to. We do not want to strike. But we will do what is necessary.”
Following President Gladingís meeting with the National Mediation Board, a teleconference was held for the press to explain APFAís request for release and to brief business reporters on some the more spurious contentions inherent in AAís view of the Flight Attendant world. APFA’s Chief Negotiator, Team Counsel and Economic Analyst were on hand with President Glading to illustrate just how little managementís proposals recognize our workforce and how self-serving their unusual methodology is for conducting cost analysis compared to any normally accepted and customary means.
More importantly, we showed how management’s view of the past extends only so far as suits their disingenuous goals. Their numbers and charts clearly fail to recognize the Flight Attendant bailout of AMR which so gutted our contract.
We at APFA have most assuredly not forgotten the nearly seven years we have endured so far under the RPA and are in no way blind to the fact that management’s proposalsóeven at the end of the proposed contract length and even not counting the huge increases in healthcare costs they want to shift to the individual-still leave us far below our pre-bailout rates. Including their proposed increases in healthcare costs means only concession on top of concession. It is unfathomable that they would expect our members to take further cuts.
GOOD FAITH BARGAINING: CAN AMR LEARN?
In responding to several press reports of potential job reductions which could result from productivity gainsóa top-ranking goal of management-as well as the scheduling changes desired by APFA members, President Glading confirmed that normal attrition in the first few years of any new contract would be the only acceptable route to job reductions arising out of new work rules.
Said Glading “As we have made clear to our members, APFA has made proposals for scheduling efficiencies which would move toward meeting the company’s stated productivity goals, but which would also fulfill what our members have told us they either desire or would consider a fair trade for other improvements. Some of these changes would reduce the number of Flight Attendant jobs on the one hand while other proposed scheduling changes would increase jobs.
“Throughout this process, we have been adamant that any net job reduction cannot and will not result in involuntary furloughs; it will only be achieved through the course of normal attrition. Additionally-and most importantly-it is tied to the company’s meeting our overall needs for improvement in total compensation, work rules and benefits.
“Good faith bargaining is a concept we at APFA understand fully and have demonstrated,” Glading continued. “We have not asked for the moon and the stars. We back up our proposals with verifiable numbers and reasoning. It is AA management that chooses a path of maximum resistance.”
THE TWO FACES OF AMR
What is particularly galling in these talks is the two-headed nature displayed by management. One head looks forward, smiling, presenting a rosy future to Wall Street investors, the government, and AA customers. The other head at the negotiating table, frowning, looks only to the past where itís all doom and gloom and crocodile tears.
The smiley-faced head touts American’s plusses, like the recent DOT nod in favor of the oneworld, Trans-Atlantic antitrust immunity (ATI) application, or the cementing of our long relationship with JAL and pending ATI in the Trans-Pacific market. Through press releases it speaks in glowing phrases like:
ìEmployees and other stakeholders are expected to benefit from the airlines’ improved competitive position and financial stability,î (Feb 12) and
“The joint business also is expected to Ö contribute to job security for its employees,” (Feb 15) and
“[Approving the ATI] is in the best interests of the traveling public, our company and our employees, as obtaining immunity will help us toward our goal of creating a stronger and more financially stable American Airlines for the long term,” (Feb 15)
But at the negotiating table, the frowning-faced head rears up, crying poor and clinging to the past when it comes time to make good on years and years of promises, and to begin to pay back the handouts that rescued AMR in 2003.
RATCHETING UP THE PRESSURE
APFA members have more than proven their worth to this company and their dedication to seeing it thrive. APFA’s Negotiating Team has made great strides at the bargaining table in attempting to fix the many scheduling ills at AA with proposals reflecting our members’ desires, but which also move toward meeting the company’s goals. Our Team has the experience and skill to know how to solve the problems we see day-in and day-out on the line, whether in sequence and bid line construction, reserve or any of the other myriad facets of our work lives we know first-hand, not just as some numbers on a spread sheet.
But as President Glading stated in Tuesday’s press conference: “The closer we get, the more reasonable the proposals are looking, the further the company moves away.” With each step we take toward an agreement which suits our needs for improved wages, benefits and work rules, and which we clearly prove is both reasonable and responsive to management’s concerns, the AA Team makes more demands with proposals that are simply not ratifiable. Moreover they leave our Flight Attendants even worse off than today. They do not want to give anything that will cost AA one single dollar, ignoring the $1 million per day ($2 billion to date since the bailout) that Flight Attendants have banked and from which we now demand just rewards.
Taking our battle to the next step-in a vicious cycle AA management is solely responsible for and clearly addicted to-APFA will send out a strike authorization ballot to members and set a schedule of system-wide, informational road shows.
It’s been often said that the best deterrent to an actual strike is the threat of one. So it is important to note that a strike authorization is not a decision whether or not to actually strike. But it is the chance for every member to show that management cannot simply hold out their empty hands when it’s time to bargain for a contract while clutching at every opportunity to sweeten their own salaries and bank accounts on our dime.
Following are the planned dates for the base road shows (download calendar here). The time for each meeting is 11 AM to 2 PM. Locations are to be determined:
DFW – Monday, April 12
BOS – Tuesday, April 13
NYC – Wednesday, April 14
RDU – Monday, April 19
DCA – Tuesday, April 20
STL – Wednesday, April 21
ORD – Tuesday, April 27
LAX – Wednesday, April 28
SFO – Thursday, April 29
MIA – Monday, May 3
DFW – Tuesday, May 4
BRITISH AIRWAYS UNITE UNION SET TO STRIKE
The Unite union representing the Flight Attendants at oneworld sister carrier British Airways, has set two strike dates: a three-day strike beginning Saturday, March 20 and a four-day strike beginning Saturday, March 27. These follow the overwhelming support of industrial action in two different ballots to their membership and after talks with the carrier have repeatedly broken down.
Predictably, management has claimed the union’s strike against the carrier is unjustified and purports that an increasing number of cabin crew are defying the union’s call for a job action and have offered to work. BA CEO Willie Walsh has also stated that it has lined up 60 other airlines willing to “partner” with it and carry stranded passengers. That only raises the questions, (a) why are back-up airlines needed if so many scabs or other minimally-trained replacements are offering to work, and (b) does anyone really think these other airlines are there for any other reason but to collect the fares from the passengers stranded by Mr. Walsh’s actions? I guess they expect that to be quite a number. (cha ching!)
See APFAís letter of support for the fight of our sisters and brothers at Unite on the National Officers page of APFA.org (or click here).
PHONE WATCH CAPTAIN RECRUITING VOLUNTEERS
APFA’s National Phone Watch Captain, DFW Flight Attendant Jackie Phillips, is seeking volunteers in the DFW area to help be a part of APFA’s Phone Watch. Should we reach the stage of needing to ramp up this service to provide vital information to our membership, we will need many volunteers. If you can offer some of your time for a four hour shift at APFA Headquarters as a Phone Watch volunteer, please send your contact information, name, employee number, phone number and email address to: email@example.com. A Representative will contact you in the coming weeks, as we get ready to open Phone Watch, to inform you of available shifts.
DEADLINES: SECONDARY VACATION BIDDING; RECALLS TO JFK
The APFA Contract Department issues reminders for the following deadlines:
- VACATION: Secondary Vacation Bidding ñ Tuesday, March 23 at 0800 CT
- JFK RECALL PROFFER: up to 160 Flight Attendants ñ Friday, March 26 at 1000 CT
The ballot for the recall proffer is found through the Crew Resources link on the Flight Service website.
DOMESTIC TRANSFERS: PREFERENCES PURGED
Based on an increased number of Flight Attendants rescinding their preliminary domestic transfer requests, we reached agreement with Crew Resources to purge the domestic transfer list. This list was purged on March 18, 2010. If you do desire a domestic transfer or mutual transfer then you must re-enter your transfer preference. Out of consideration for your fellow Flight Attendants, please only add your name to the list if you are interested in accepting the preliminary offer of domestic mutual transfer or regular transfer. If you add your name to the list and later change your mind, please remove your transfer preference to ensure as many of our members as possible can get to their desired base. The next round of domestic mutual transfers will be paired from the domestic transfer requests on file as of 0830 Central Time on May 4, 2010. If you are interested in accepting a domestic mutual transfer please ensure your preferences are updated by that time.
CHICAGO RETIREMENT BRIEFINGS
APFA Retirement briefings, presented by IDF Flight Attendant, Patrick Hancock, are scheduled for Chicago on the following dates/times:
- March 24 at 9:00 AM and 12:00 noon
- April 27 at 2:00 PM
Briefings last approximately two hours and will be held in the Flight Service Conference Room on the lower level ops area at K19, across from the FYI Center. Discussions include pension selections and retirement benefits, including insurance and travel. To get the most out of these helpful and popular seminars, print out and bring your personal pension estimate and plan calculation formulas from Jetnet. Flight Attendants from all bases are welcome to attend and no reservations are required.
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Remember that there are currently 1,363 members on furlough and awaiting recall.
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