Sunday, November 22, 2020
We continue to live and work in trying times. By now, we expected to see the rate of COVID-19 cases dropping; instead, we see just the opposite. Medical professionals and scientists guide us, and they are warning against holiday gatherings, which could affect air travel through the holidays and next year. Despite this news, we are cautiously optimistic that we are moving closer to a vaccine.
Centers for Disease Control guidelines are clear: masks, appropriately worn over the nose and mouth, help to curb the spread of the virus. Every day, Flight Attendants are tasked with enforcing this policy on board our aircraft. We are constantly faced with issues of mask non-compliance. We are spending much of our time de-escalating arguments to maintain a safe environment. Our work has become more combative, and relief cannot come soon enough. Thank you to each of you who keep this airline flying- you are essential workers, moving American through this challenging time, all while assuming personal risks during a worsening pandemic.
To be clear, American has a demand problem, not a labor cost problem, and we will not entertain discussions on concessions. However, the Company is using the pandemic as an excuse to worsen our work lives. Fatigue-inducing trip construction continues to be a significant issue, with multiple legs per day, unproductive sit times, and short layovers.
A few weeks ago, the Company decided to mix crews and sequences with narrow-body and wide-body flying. This violates the position bidding language, as outlined in the contract. This decision also affects position premiums, creates potential seniority violations due to lacking aircraft qualifications, and increases the risk of inadvertent slide deployments. After many discussions with the Company before the bidding process for December commenced, they were unwilling to alter the sequences. As a result of our pushback, the Company has recently agreed to stop constructing combined wide-body/narrow-body sequences until more discussions with APFA take place.
American has also implemented staffing changes, creating an unreasonable workload on IPD sequences, especially when demand returns, without any involvement from APFA. As a result, APFA has had to file yet another Presidential Grievance and will continue to fight to return to adequate staffing levels.
APFA has been successful in pushing off the return of a main cabin beverage service into 2021. With COVID-19 cases on the rise, the last thing we need is increased opportunity for passengers to remove their facial coverings on the aircraft. The battle for a safe environment on board is already challenging. We have kept this airline flying, and the care and treatment of the front-line employees should be this Company’s number one concern.
We still have 7,985 APFA Flight Attendants on involuntary furlough, many of which have lost access to healthcare, without the ability to pay for COBRA insurance at the exorbitant rates for which it is available. APFA, along with other Unions across American and the industry, will not let up until relief in the form of a Payroll Support Program (PSP) extension is signed. As we all know, this is not just an airline problem, but a problem across the United States and beyond. Cities across the country are returning to lockdowns. Small businesses hanging on by a thread will struggle to stay in business through the winter. Millions of Americans are losing access to healthcare for their entire families and are struggling to put food on the table. We need relief now. Please keep contacting your elected officials.
Earlier this month, we received news that the PHX crew base is still too large. The Company has been communicating about the need for a downsize in PHX since early 2019, and we were hopeful that attrition, leaves, and early outs would ‘right-size’ PHX without further disruption. We will continue to support our PHX colleagues and PHX APFA base leadership as they make difficult career decisions over the next few weeks.
We are encouraged by news of potential COVID-19 vaccines; however, we must remain vigilant about safety. The holiday months will surely bring more first-time flyers, and we are all battling ‘enforcement fatigue’ when it comes to mask compliance. We will double down on our Washington, D.C. efforts to push our elected officials towards a stimulus relief package. During this pandemic, you have played a key role in moving healthcare workers to hotspots worldwide, moving medical supplies from manufacturers to the front lines, and keeping the economy open. You will play an even more prominent role in distributing an approved vaccine by efficiently moving millions of doses and required medical supplies to reach every corner of the globe as quickly as possible. We are front-line, essential workers and should be treated and respected as such. APFA will continue to push lawmakers to ensure that Flight Attendants have expedited access to any approved vaccine.
For those of you who are still working, thank you. For those on an involuntary furlough, we will continue to advocate for your return to active status. For those of you on leave or who made the difficult decision to leave American, we wish you the very best in your future endeavors.
Please continue to take care of yourselves and each other.
APFA National President
Please remember, we have 7,985 involuntarily furloughed Flight Attendants at American Airlines.
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