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March 5, 2015
Over the past ten days I have heard from several LUS Flight Attendants who are frustrated and angry about the problems they’ve experienced with the implementation of the new scheduling systems. American’s performance here is inexcusable. The Company has known for months that the new programs – PBS, ETB, ISAP and reserve assignments – had to begin operating in February. Other than PBS, nothing worked as planned. ETB crashed on both February 19 and 20 and significant problems remain. American still hasn’t distributed the 79-page manual that explains how to use the ISAP program. The instruction guide for Reserve days off wasn’t provided until February 23, leaving Flight Attendants no time to learn how to trade days off.
Your frustration about this debacle is my frustration, particularly when I was told in September that the delay in PBS was a one-time event, and that everything would be ready to go in February. Back then while PBS may have been nearly completed, it could not be put in place because the Company had made little to no progress on the ETB or ISAP. Over the next six months I spoke regularly to the Company and each time was assured that the February deadlines would be met. During this period I worked closely with Mike Flores, who as a member of the JIRC Committee, had devoted the past year to the implementation of PBS, and understood as well as anyone how the other programs should work.
Mike told me that he was apprehensive about the Company deciding to discard the ETB program that LUS Flight Attendants had been using, and instead to start from scratch to build a new system. His concerns were ignored. Unfortunately, the Company chose to reinvent the wheel, one that has now proven to be flat. Equally disturbing was the fact that each of these programs, despite being interrelated, were being constructed in separate silos. As a result they would not have the necessary capacity to interact with each other.
If our concerns were to be addressed management had to appoint a project manager who had oversight and responsibility for implementing all the scheduling programs. We first recommended this last fall and although we suggested it again and again, management never made the appointment. Without it, there was no point person who could ensure accountability and adequate reporting of progress and problems.
Is there anything more we could have done? I don’t think so; not when you have a management that never hinted that implementation would be delayed, was insistent that in February the new systems would operate smoothly, and would not address some of our key concerns.
When everything went awry I immediately contacted the Company and spoke with Mike to find out how quickly the problems could be fixed. I also renewed my demand for a project manager and again explained that this individual must know the status of the work on all programs, understand how these systems interact, devise an achievable timetable for their completion, and work closely with APFA so that it is fully and accurately informed about all aspects of the scheduling project. Also, I have scheduled a meeting next week with the APFA LUS representatives and the Company to identify the specific reasons for all the failings surrounding implementation, and to discuss how these problems can be avoided in the future.