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Monday, August 22, 2016
Last week, I addressed the membership to offer some background on how the current Hard 40 Letter of Agreement (LOA) came to be in its present form and to explain why I asked the Executive Committee to bring it to you for a vote.
Since that time, APFA has learned that some material facts were not entirely made clear during the negotiating process, leaving us to conclude that the LOA we brought before you is not reflective of an agreement reached through general principles of good faith bargaining.
Back in March 2016, under the prior administration, a meeting was held between the Company, Attorney Joe Burns, and the Joint Scheduling Implementation Committee (JSIC) to resolve certain outstanding issues. According to the JSIC, the understanding at that meeting was that Sec.9.D.1.a. of the JCBA was to include the ability for Flight Attendants to accrue sick and vacation in a bid month in which they are not available to the Company for at least fifteen (15) days, so long as they attain forty (40) or more hours by the end of the month. However, the JSIC and the Company did not solidify this understanding by putting it in writing in a signed LOA.
Currently, there is no explicit language in the Red Book or JCBA that allows for the accrual of sick or vacation in a bid month in which a Flight Attendant is not available for at least fifteen (15) days. A mere understanding of an exception is no guarantee that it would be enforceable without a signed LOA.
When we published the first round of Hard 40 Q & A’s that affirmed the exception for accrual of sick and vacation in an inactive month under the JCBA, this exception caused a great deal of confusion– and rightfully so. It directly conflicts with Sec.9.C.1.a. and Sec. 8.A.3. of the JCBA that specifically state a Flight Attendant must be available for at least fifteen (15) days in a bid month in order to accrue sick and vacation.
We immediately consulted with the JSIC to confirm their understanding. They maintained that the “intent” of the language in 9.D.1.a. provides the means for Flight Attendants to accrue sick and vacation in a month in which they are not available for at least fifteen (15) days as an exception to the language found in Sec.9.C.1.a and Sec. 8.A.3.
In order to put to rest the resulting confusion, we approached the Company for further clarification, but their interpretation was different than that of the JSIC’s. They maintained that there is no “intent” with section 9.D.1.a and that under the JCBA, a Flight Attendant would accrue sick and vacation only if s(he) is available for at least fifteen (15) days in a bid month. Sec.9.C.1.a. and Sec.8.A.3. support the Company’s position in both the Red Book and JCBA.
Last week, after further discussions with the Company, they referred to the notes from the March 2016 meeting. Those notes confirmed the intent to uphold the exception for sick and vacation accrual in the JCBA; however, this would need to be clarified in the form of an LOA.
It is APFA’s contention that the Company’s initial differing position from that of the JSIC affirms the necessity for strong, clear language when it comes to negotiating any agreement, and that verbal agreements based on intent should be backed up in writing.
After consulting with the APFA Board, we have decided to delay sending the current Hard 40 LOA to the membership for ratification until the agreement clarifies the language in the JCBA concerning the exception for sick and vacation accrual and, at the very least, incorporates this same provision into the Hard 40 LOA.
In the meantime, rest assured that APFA is committed to bringing you an agreement worthy of your consideration.
APFA National President