Tuesday, February 16, 2021
2020 was a year of unprecedented challenges- we witnessed a precipitous drop-off in travel demand, the likes of which have never been seen before. We were dealt blow after blow: mask enforcement, furloughs, displacements, base closures, leaves and early retirements, decreased quality of trip construction, and staffing reductions. As we move into 2021, there is renewed hope that travel demand will return as vaccinations continue.
Recently, I, along with our dedicated Government Affairs Representatives Lori Glattly and Allie Malis, have had a number of opportunities to speak with Washington Leadership. On January 28th, our Government Affairs Representatives, along with Susan Wroble, ORD Base President, had a call with Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and communicated our concerns about the disjointed rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines. While some states seem to be distributing the vaccine with greater ease, other state officials are suddenly realigning the recommended Centers for Disease Control and Prevention priority list as they see fit. Consequently, Flight Attendant priority as Essential Workers varies by state. We made it clear that Flight Attendants wishing to be vaccinated should maintain priority in Tier 1B.
Contact your Governor here to urge them to maintain Flight Attendants vaccine priority in Tier 1B. We are not able to maintain physical distance onboard the aircraft, and vaccine access should be provided to us within the Essential Worker category to ensure air travel is as safe as possible, facilitating a faster return of passenger demand. APFA National and Local Leadership have sent letters to their Governors in an effort to expedite vaccine availability.
On January 29th, APFA and APA hosted a Zoom conference with Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Flight Attendants were able to pose comprehensive questions about a Payroll Support Program (PSP) continuation, mask enforcement, and vaccine issues. You may view the conference on the APFA Government Affairs webpage.
On February 5th, I had an opportunity to speak with recently confirmed Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. During the call, we were able to touch on the importance of a PSP extension through September, vaccine issues, mask compliance problems, and the importance of a comprehensive ‘No-Fly List’ to further address threatening and abusive behavior on the airplane. Secretary Buttigieg is legitimately interested in the concerns of Union members, and we will keep in close contact. As a follow-up to our conversation, I sent a letter outlining some of the many issues we face as First Responders and Essential Workers. Read the full letter to Secretary Buttigieg here.
While we are beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel, vaccine availability and distribution issues continue to hamper the much-anticipated return of travel demand. As a result, we once again are faced with a possible staffing overage. WARN notices have been distributed to 4,245 APFA members, with a possible furlough date of April 1, 2021.
APFA Leadership has been working to mitigate any possible furloughs, both with the Company and in Washington, D.C., and will continue to work with our fellow Unions across the industry to ensure that aviation workers are included and protected in President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. Thanks to the tireless leadership of Representative Peter DeFazio (OR-04) and other leaders who serve on The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, aviation workers are included in the relief plan as Congressional debates continue. While this is encouraging, the fight for additional relief and protection is not over, so please continue to contact your elected representatives to urge them to support the legislation.
While much of our work navigating the pandemic continues to focus on Washington, D.C., we continue to work together with our Base Leadership on many issues, some of which include:
- Continued pay protection Letters of Agreement for COVID-19 cancellations.
- Improved COVID-19 removal protections for Flight Attendants that must quarantine mid-sequence.
- Upcoming APFA Virtual VEOP/ EVLOA-2 Townhall to address questions for interested Flight Attendants, along with VEOP/ EVLOA-2 most Frequently Asked Questions.
- Continuing work on solidifying the intent of the JCBA language with regards to Scheduling and Reserve.
- Creating a Flight Attendant specific letter to assist with accessing the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Preparing a financial reform initiative for APFA.
- Offering support from our Contract and Scheduling Departments for the primary round of 2021-2022 Vacation Bidding.
Continuing the fight towards workplace equality and inclusion for all, I would like to pause to recognize Black History Month, a time to reflect on Black Americans’ contributions to full equality regardless of race or gender identity. We have much work to do on the road to full equality, and APFA is committed to continuing the conversation. At the Board of Directors Convention in March, APFA Leadership will create the first APFA Diversity and Inclusion Committee to support and encourage diversity at American and the communities in which we reside. If you are interested in being considered for this Committee, please fill out the online form here.
It has been one year since the pandemic turned our personal and work lives upside down. We commit to continue the work to protect your jobs, safety, and health to the best of our ability.
Thank you for taking the time to catch up. Please take care of each other and fly safely.
APFA National President