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9.09.15 – (LAA/LUS) – Telephone Town Hall Conference Next Week/Town Hall Q and A’s

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015 – LAA/LUS

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  • Telephone Town Hall Conference Next Week
  • Town Hall Q and A’s from August 18, 2015

Telephone Town Hall Conference Next Week

APFA National President Laura Glading and members of the Joint Implementation Resolution Committee (JIRC) and Joint Scheduling Implementation Committee (JSIC) will be hosting a Telephone Town Hall Conference on Wednesday, September 16th at 5pm Eastern (4pm Central/2pm Pacific). The telephone conference will consist of a short presentation followed by a Questions and Answers session, focusing on Contract implementation of the 2014 Joint Collective Bargaining Agreement (JCBA).

All members are welcome to join the call. The conference call-in information will be released shortly.

Town Hall Q and A’s from August 18, 2015

Q: When LAA and LUS Flight Attendants combine, I am concerned that there will be differences within the Preferential Bidding System. Specifically, cabin bid position and speaker position/ Purser assignment will be different from current LUS practice.  How can we ensure this will be done correctly, and all contractual language is followed?
A: The LUS PBS system and the PBS system in the JCBA are almost identical. At LUS, we have the same bidding parameters of positions, speakers, Purser/CSD going on right now.
There will be different rules, especially in the IPD world, but those changes are easily adaptable to this vendor and to this system, and all of those parameters in the system are being used at LUS and have been used from the beginning.
PBS has actually worked very well from both a technical standpoint and the standpoint of line awards. The main reason we’ve experienced difficulties at LUS is the company’s decision to have such high line values that skewed the distribution of pairings. We’re working on fixes for that as we speak, but PBS as a whole has worked as planned.
For clarity, or for people who may not be familiar, PBS is how you build and receive your initial schedule. Once that is complete, PBS is finished. It has nothing to do with anything else the rest of the month.  It only has to do with your initial schedule award.
After PBS is finished, we have ISAP.  ISAP and ETB are used to change your schedule after the PBS award. Those are very separate processes from PBS. 
Q: (LAA) I have a question about the Reserve system. When is it going to be implemented, and when will Reserves see the promised transparency?
A: We do not have a firm date for the JCBA reserve system to be implemented, because that implementation is dependent on other areas of the contract. The transparency outlined in Section 12.O of the JCBA will be available to reserve FAs upon system implementation.
Q:  (LAA) Being New York based, we have a lot of commuters. I have people asking me pretty regularly about the provision for the last live leg, the doubling up of trips, and the waiving of rest between trips. With a lot of commuters and high time flyers, people are quite interested in when that will be happening for us. Can you offer any updates?
A: We have discussed these provisions with the Company, and we’ve discussed possibly implementing these provisions within the next six months.  Some of them, such as double ups, will be discussed when we’re working on rescheduling (sequence pay protection, and last live leg).  It’s not too far off in the future.
These provisions are not dependent on other areas of the JCBA, so we are pushing the company to implement these provisions sooner rather than later.

Q: How are the talks going for LAA to receive the Company match for the Health Insurance? Also, when will we be able to transfer across LUS/ LAA bases?
A: The Presidential Grievance on VEBA Prefunding was filed, both sides arguments were heard and evidence was presented. We are currently awaiting the arbitration decision.
On the question of transferring to each others bases, the Company has only committed to Flight Attendant Operational Integration (FOI). We are continuing to work with the Company and explore any opportunities to transfer earlier than FOI.

Q: (LUS) My question is about PBS.  I was just looking at my line award for September, and when I initially bid, the cover page on the dashboard displayed the current target credit range for PHX at 78.30. When the system processed my bid, I noticed in my reason reports that it says the required minimum line credit value was 82.02. I tailored my bid based on the 78.30 that was posted.
Is the system awarding low time, at this moment, outside of the people that are on vacation and if so, is this causing the target credit range to creep higher?  
A: The Line Average is determined by dividing the total number of pairing hours by the total number of active Flight Attendants who will be line holders in the base. If every person were awarded exactly that same credit time, all pairings would be covered. Obviously, this is impossible to actually accomplish in awarding thousands of pairings with various credit amounts. In the end, this is just an average or benchmark number to start from and does not mean that everyone can/will be awarded exactly this amount.
Up until this point, PBS has awarded low time until it gets to a point that it can only cover the rest of the trips with the remaining FAs which has meant that when that time gets spread out across the remaining FAs, it forces a higher minimum line value.
The correction to this issue has just been approved and will be implemented in September for the October bid, and more communication will be released soon to explain the correction. Based on the available data on the correction, this idea and use of a Required Minimum Line Value and being forced to an unnecessarily high time will be greatly reduced if not almost completely eliminated.
Q: (LAA/LUS) Are we planning on hiring any more Flight Attendants this year?
A: We have confirmed some additional classes on the LAA side. Start dates are scheduled for September 21st, September 28th, and October 26th.
Additionally, we are awaiting confirmation on two additional classes this fall for the LUS side. More information will follow when those classes are confirmed.
Q: (LAA) When we received our good contract in 2001, the provisions of that contract were pretty much taken away from us overnight.
However, now that we have the JCBA, much of it is to be implemented in the future.  All we hear are excuses from the company as far as IT. It sure didn’t take that much time when they took everything away from us. I’m wondering why we have to wait so long for implementation of the full JCBA?
A: From Laura Glading, National President: That’s a very good question and I actually went back and looked at it. I negotiated those contracts you are talking about.  In 2001, I looked at the implementation and that wasn’t the one where there was a recount, in fact that contract unfortunately, ratified by a tremendous amount but on September 12th, 2001. We quickly forgot a lot of the details of that contract because obviously we were overtaken by the sadness of what happened the day before. The truth of the matter is, many of the items in that contract weren’t being implemented right away either.  It took a lot of time.
In 2003, we had the contract where we had all the concessions to prevent going to bankruptcy. They were able to turn a switch and take a lot of the things away from us and I know the vacation specifically was a really horrible thing to do.  They actually went back and took back vacation and the money away, but even so, some of the things from 2003 took a while to implement.  We’ve never been able to implement things immediately, whether it’s a good contract or a concessionary agreement to avoid bankruptcy.
This contract, by contrast though, is so different. Both of those earlier contracts were working off of scheduling and other provisions that had a long history in the LAA contract. Implementation of our JCBA is much more complicated, because it is a combination of two very, very different contracts, particularly in scheduling. You can see how long it took to implement joint work rules at Delta and Northwest, and, of course, they didn’t have any bargaining involved. Although there still is no JCBA at United/Continental, even those changes that don’t depend on a new contract have not been fully implemented.
It is taking a long time and I know this isn’t making things better for you. We’re just as anxious to get this thing implemented, but it does take time and we’re working, I promise you, as quickly as absolutely possible.
Q: (LAA) Base transfers, both mutual and vacancy, have been slow. I’m wondering what the future of LAX is, in terms of mutual and/or vacancy transfers, given the fact that they’re going to be expanding services to Sydney, Australia and Tokyo- Haneda. Are you able to shed some light on the slow movement of those transfers to the LAX base?
A: From Brent Peterson, National Contract Chair: Transfers right now are slow due to the fact that we’re not hiring. Of course we went through that stagnant period for ten years and then we got into the hiring mode. In 2013, and every month they were graduating new hires, they had to process the transfer list. The new hires stopped this past spring, and that was virtually the same time we saw the vacancy transfers slow. The mutual transfers continue to go on, but again that’s based on the ability to pair two people. Now that we look like we’re going to have some more hiring towards the end of the year that should help with the vacancy transfers, and in particular with the growth in LAX. There will clearly need to be transfers out there but they will be timed more closely to when that flying actually occurs. I do expect you’ll start to see vacancy transfers to LAX by the end of the year when that flying comes on line.
Q: (LUS) I’m from PHX and my question is regarding the sick calls out of all the bases as well as the most junior line holder. Is there a way the union and company are willing to work together and publish some kind of report every month regarding what the previous months sick calls and last known line holders were?
A: The sick call numbers will not be published to the membership.
As far as the last known line holder report, in a line bidding world, it was easier to show what seniority held the last line in each base. Now, with all the parameters available in PBS, such as ‘avoid reserve’, the last line built is not necessarily the most junior person able to hold a PBS built line.
Q: (LAA) With PBS, will we be able to Buddy Bid?
A: Yes, Buddy Bidding with PBS will be one of the parameters available to you.
Q:  (LUS) We were told with the PBS system that fewer reserves would be needed. In actuality, more reserves are being scheduled with this PBS system.  With line bidding at LUS, I was about thirty people from holding a line. With PBS, I’m way over 150. What is the reason is for that?
A: From the JIRC: The JIRC completely agrees with you, and it’s one of those issues that is being addressed.  Every single meeting we have with the company, we bring this issue to their attention. The whole point of PBS was to lower the number of reserves, and create more line holders.
The problem that we’ve run into is that in the first few months of PBS, the company wanted to be cautious and keep more reserves while we were adjusting to this whole new system, because it is a large change. Understandably, the company wanted to make sure that they had coverage for the operation. Additionally, there is a direct correlation with PBS implementation and the sick calls being on the rise. Because of that, the company feels they have to keep more reserves on to cover those sick calls, so that they do not have to cancel flights.
The company is also taking into account historical data, so they’re looking at coverage from last year and using that to give a baseline for where the reserve headcount should be. We don’t necessarily agree that looking at the historical data is the best way to staff, because the historical data involves a very different system.  
As you may know, APFA and the company have agreed to jointly utilize an outside consultant, Roy Everett, to help navigate the issues associated with PBS. There needs to be a balance of fewer reserves and adequate coverage, and we are working towards that solution as quickly as possible. Together with Roy, we are working on finding the best solution to this issue that balances the needs of the flight attendants and the company.

Q: (LAA) Boston bid sheets are as ugly as 70’s shag rugs. Why are there more ORD turns then DFW turns not all of us live minutes away from the airport. Also, the way our lines are built with a 4am sign in (I have to get up at 2am to make that sign in and if I were to take public transportation have to get up earlier) then throw an all nighter in the middle of a 3-day trip getting back to Boston late at night to do it all over again in one day. That one day off is screwed because you get home after midnight and you have to go to bed at 7pm in order to get any sleep for the 4am sign in. I personally have developed serious health issues from these schedules.  I personally have developed serious health issues from these schedules they need to change asap. Why are the bases that we are flying into not doing these all nighters or out of base laying over in Boston not doing the 1st flights out of Boston like they use to? 
A: Not only have departure times moved to earlier times, but more “all nighter” flying is scheduled in the LUS model of operating the airline. Additionally, not every flight operates every day, as they have in the past. This means that the sequences are affected and mostly in a negative way, so far. APFA is working with Crew Resources to address these issues and even hired an outside expert to evaluate how the sequences are being built. The JCBA should provide relief as well. Section 11, Hours of Service, provides for increased layover rest and reduced maximum duty days in many cases.

Q: (LUS) I’m a Flight Attendant based in CLT. I listened to the company conference call a few weeks ago about scheduling issues, and my concern is that it seems that there is a pilot overseeing the creation of trips LUS trips. He mentioned on the call that the reason there are fewer one and two day trips is because the flight crews are staying with the planes.
I myself have yet to be on a trip where I’m not changing planes. Is there a flight attendant involved in overseeing the creation of trips, especially the lack of one and two day trips? Didn’t we agree to separate from the pilots to increase our flexibility?
A: You’re referring to Chip Mayer. Chip has been doing the crew planning job for quite awhile now.  This is nothing new. There are contractual limits to the number of plane changes that can occur in any given duty period, and we’re making sure that the company abides by those limitations.
This is one of the things that we’re focusing on with Roy Everett- pairing construction and length, how can we make it better, and what input we can provide that would improve the pairings for the flight attendants.
As we separate from the pilots, the goal is to see a more effective, productive use of our time on duty. We’re going to start the separation from the pilots beginning for the most part (with the exception of transatlantic) as early as October of this year, and I think we’ll see a change in pairings.
Q: (LAA) PBS on the LAA side; is that due to begin with the actual vacation, new vacation period in 2017 and will that be a January start date or May start date? 
A: There is no firm date for LAA PBS implementation at this point. It looks more like LAA PBS implementation will be around May 2017 rather than earlier in 2017. We don’t have a firm date at this point as to when it will be implemented, but will be sure to keep the membership apprised as the date nears.

Q. (LUS) Code 59 is new to us, we are at a standstill in this regard. According to the Information on Code 59, only the Capt can enter this claim-first by coding it into the flight computer and claiming it by calling into the Chief Pilots office. The continuing problem seems to be that our pilots are arbitrarily effected by claiming this additional time which would explain why they have either claimed total ignorance of Code 59, don’t have a reason to do it (a reserve Captain), or tell us it has not gone into effect yet. What I do know, for certain, is that they are more concerned about remaining legal for their trip or their next trip and their in lies the conflict of interest. They will manage credited time as best fits their needs. This is very arbitrary to have one group command control over the pay/compensation of another labor group – don’t you agree?
A: There are many assumptions in this question- that pilots might time out, that they may be on reserve, etc. We don’t necessarily agree that pilots are arbitrarily affected by this, it’s not just the Captains pay, but the other pilots too. What we can tell you is that LAA has had this in their contract for quite sometime and their pilots claim it regularly. We do have the disadvantage that it cannot be claimed automatically at LUS. Until the ACARS units are harmonized throughout the system, LUS Pilots will still need to contact their Chief Pilots office to file a claim.  RFD (Ready For Departure) is usually the code pilots are using to claim and they know they need to include the Flight Attendants names and numbers on the form.

Remember actual Code 59 situations include:

  • ATC delays at gate
  • Delay at gate awaiting pushback, powerback, or taxi out due to airport congestion or as a result of congestion on ramp from deicing operation at  gate
  • Aircraft  deicing,  and
  • Maintenance performed after departure from gate, but prior to takeoff without a return to the gate
Delays due to a mechanical at gate do not qualify for Code 59. We recommend that until ACARS can accept claims directly, have a discussion with your pilots. If  they fail to claim it correctly, you will need to contact your local representatives. 
Q: (LAA/ LUS) Does the company still plan to have a dynamic flight scheduling system (i.e. trips on certain days or for certain holidays)? If so, are we still anticipating bottom heavy December flying?
A: Yes, we will see an increase in flying in the second half of December. LUS continues to increase holiday flying, and in a variable way, as they have historically at LUS. Here at LAA, they have been telling us they are continuing to slowly roll out implementation of this type of scheduling. This December, we will see about a ten percent increase in the second half of December.
The total dynamic flight system that we’re talking about here is not something that’s unique to American, and this is something that all the carriers are starting to implement. They’re changing up the equipment on same flights on different days, and they’re not always operating with daily frequency. This affects pairing/ sequence construction. Variables like this are instituted to capture revenue on certain higher travel days, and reallocate larger aircraft or cancel frequencies on softer demand days.
Q:  (LAA/ LUS) Where are we with our talks with the Company on a new attendance policy for both LAA and LUS?
A: The company has asked for input from the APFA Vice President’s office, but has not communicated a roll out date. As soon as we have more information, we will be sure to pass it along.

Q: (LUS) Has there been any success for LUS for the new lowered ETB times and can they be lowered even more to possibly 4:15am or such? Follow up question, why does it take PBS 2 days to award results for following month?

A: The 6:00am opening of the EBT matches the contractual language. The JIRC and the Company will continue to work to implement the contractual ISAP/AIL and ETB closing time of 9:00pm. This is an area where we will proceed with caution in order to avoid any more unnecessary disruptions. We also feel that the contractual time of 2 days for PBS to award is currently required to ensure accuracy and minimize mis-awards.

Q: (LAA) My question involves layover times. We seem to be working sixteen hour days with ten hour layovers more and more. What can be done in the future to ensure we receive adequate rest?
A: There are two different paths that we’re trying to take on this issue. First, we continue to push for fatigue language. Right now, we’re back to the FAA Reauthorization Bill, and we will re-launch our lobbying efforts as soon as Congress returns to Washington D.C. We have also found a friend in the Senate, Mazie Hirono (D-HI), who passed some legislation for pilots due to the tragic Colgan Air crash in Buffalo, New York. It’s just a matter of fairness, equity and safety, and we continue to push and we will not stop. We don’t care how long it takes. We will not give up this important fight.
With regard to getting better trips at the bases, it’s a matter of running these optimizers. That is precisely why we have a consultant to help us find solutions for improvements system wide.
In the JCBA, we will see some increase in rest. LAA will go from a nine hour scheduled for domestic and NIPD to nine a half hours for trip construction. We also have IPD rest of fourteen hours, which is an increase from ten and a half hours.  There is some relief in the JCBA, and the ‘Hours of Service’ implementation looks like it will be coming next year.
Q: (LAA) What is being done with the 40-hour scheduling limitation? Are we in discussion with the Company about this?
A: We are in discussions with the company. We have to get them to agree to eliminate the provision, and then it will go out for a membership vote. The Crew Resource team is largely LUS, and LUS has always had a 40 hour scheduling limitation. The discussions continue. We hope to reach agreement and get the information to you as quickly as possible.

Q: High time turns, we had them in LAX, lost them on the snap back agreement. I believe they return with the JCBA. Since the infrastructure has been in place in past, what are we waiting for? Why haven’t they returned?

A: You are correct that it will take programming for FOS to recognize that sequences with over 8.59 flying time, two live legs (excludes deadheading) and a 14 hours scheduled day, are legal. This programming for the provisions in JCBA Section 11.E , Hours of Service are scheduled to be implemented next year and when they are, those turns can be allocated again.

Q: I am hearing on the line that passengers and crew aboard the 787 are exposed to far more radiation than in traditional aircraft. That is the ones with metal skins. Is there any truth to this? Are European crews being scanned for radiation exposure before flights because of this danger?

A: We have reached out to British Airways Union regarding BA and 787 Exposure. According to their response, they have had positive feedback on how much better working crews and passengers alike, feel on those flights. The European carriers have conducted many studies on radiation. UK operators do monitor crew and frequent flyers to ensure they are in required limits. There is no evidence yet that the 787 increases exposure.

Q: (LAA) What is being done to address the problems we are facing with hotel allocations, unsafe properties, and all the relocating we have been experiencing?
A: Members from the APFA Hotel Department and the National Officers have met with the Company to address the hotel issues we are facing at both LUS and LAA. It is important to know that the company signs a contract with each hotel, and changing hotels often cannot be accomplished overnight.
It is very important to continue to write up any unsatisfactory experiences so that our Hotel Representatives have the documentation they need to pass on to the company. Hotel reps can be reached at
Q: (LAA) There seems to be sequences where the pilots and the flight attendants go to different hotels with the same layover time (specifically Boston and Chicago). What can be done to ensure that flight attendants are receiving the same hotels when they have the same layover times as the pilots?
A: From Kelly Gambello, Hotel Chair: I receive the hotel allocations for all the cities where we have multiple hotels. Boston and Chicago are two of those cities, and the allocations are done based on the layover leg. If we have, say, four hotels in a given city, the company looks at the layover and the room caps at the hotel.  The longest of the long will go to the longest downtown hotel -up to that room cap at that hotel. They then work back from there to the shortest layover. The shortest of the short layovers will be at the closest airport property up to the room cap.
There were some issues where pilots were scheduled for the same layover as the FAs, but went to a different hotel. This had to do with the FAs being scheduled on an international sequence, and thus had different ‘de-brief’ times, affecting the layover time and consequently triggering a different hotel.
APFA National Officers, as well as Hotel reps continue to meet with the company to discuss and resolve hotel issues. Please be sure to keep APFA apprised as situations arise.


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