Saturday, October 16, 2021
FLIGHT ATTENDANT ASSAULTS
Flight Attendants continue to regularly face resistance from customers regarding safety requirements. APFA has been engaged in doing all we can to ensure legislation is passed to protect crew members on board our aircraft. It is more important than ever that you file CERS reports and be as explicit as you can, including the explicit language that customers have used while speaking with you, regardless of how distasteful it may seem to write it in an official company document. At times, these incidents merit that a flight attendant consults with the CIRT and debrief to help with any personal difficulties these incidents present. Please always reach out to both EAP and CIRT and discuss these incidents. CIRT 800-998-8194. EAP: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The issues surrounding the latest federal mandate for vaccination have caused a lot of anxiety and confusion. Our national team continues to engage the company on any new policies or directions the company is taking concerning the federal mandate. Any further information we get, we will pass along. I want every flight attendant to know that Penelope and I are here to represent and protect every flight attendant. As your officers, we act on your behalf without judgment or any bias. It is not a secret that the topic can be somewhat controversial, but that will not be the case when we are advocating for your interests. Unfortunately, this is a topic that we must handle with caution in order to comply with federal laws and labor laws. If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to APFA HDQ at 817-540-0108, ext. 8103, or email@example.com. You may also contact either one of us. Those of you that would like to disclose your vaccine status to the company can do so via this link: https://www.aa.com/vaccinestatus
On September 30, 2021, management sent out an email message to all flight attendants about the beta test of “The Value of Connect”, which the company hopes will focus on reconnecting with us as team members. New York was the worst-hit city when the pandemic ravaged the United States. The pandemic did not lessen our troubles as flight attendants. Instead, we now come to work in a hostile environment where customers assault us and defy FAR’s daily. The contract violations are worse than they have ever been. Line holders are treated like reserves, with absolutely no consideration or apologies. Flight Attendants are now left with an app to book their own hotel rooms. The company has thrown its hands up regarding its contractual obligations. We go to our yearly training, and sometimes we are told that the hours we spent completing our web-based training were loading incorrectly, and as a result, we need to go back and do it all over again.
In good faith, many of us disclosed our vaccine status to the company, and two weeks later, we were told that those of us who did so have no protection under contact tracing.
Pay discrepancies are left to Direct Connect, which takes anywhere from 5-7 days on a good week, and generic responses leave us with more questions than before we filed it. Here in NYC, we had a state of emergency declared by both the city and state during the two hurricane events this past summer, but it was just another day in Skyview, with zero communication or direction. It wasn’t enough that APFA filed a Presidential Grievance about the attendance policy, the company doubled down by fighting it with an arbitrator and now trying an already failed program that disrupts a relationship already built with an FSM. In NY, it explicitly puts two people in charge of over 1,000 flight attendants each, just for attendance. The attendance program that was just put in place has been tried before, only to fail. Remember the uniform that made many flight attendants sick? Well, the company forced us to stay in it for a long time, which brought about the fiasco of having to buy our grey replacement pieces, while at the same time many flight attendants were still in the toxic uniform, which garnered over 5,000 reports by 2020. I am just giving you some of the most recent issues of the past 5 years, in which the company had many opportunities to show us a “connection”. This “Value of Connect,” although denied by management when I questioned them, is, in my opinion, nothing more than an attempt to directly distract us and sabotage the union’s initiatives to engage the membership during the negotiations process. The company has ample room to show good faith and include APFA in this “connect” time; however, the antics are not new, and labor has dealt with corporate maneuvering for decades. If the company wants to connect with us, they can start by reinstating our pensions or returning the interest earned in our retirement health accounts that they pocketed in bankruptcy in bad faith. Better yet, an excellent way to connect with flight attendants would be to uphold their contractual obligation to provide us safe and secure lodging, instead of leaving it up to an app (BizHero). I could go on about ways we can feel connected.
BASE GRIEVANCE – DIRECT CONNECT
Your local leadership and your ADR base Council reps have patiently tried to adjust to the lengthy delays we see trying to attend to various issues with pay involving Direct Connect. We know those dreaded words, “File a Direct Connect claim,” can cause anxiety. It is not easy for us either. While, per the department of labor, Management only has to provide “a mechanism to communicate” pay issues and decisions/resolutions, we find that APFA, as your bargaining representative, is being left out of the discussion. Section 30 of our contract outlines the dispute resolution process, implementation/training, and the timeliness needed for its success. Once a NoD or Notice of Dispute is filed, it should reach its conclusion within 30 days. Unfortunately, your local leadership is finding that the lengthy communication process between Direct Connect and the FSM, sometimes lasting several weeks, prevents us from receiving a determination and moving forward with the NoD process. We believe this is because Direct Connect effectively eliminates APFA from the process and find that to be a violation of Section 30 of the JCBA.
On October 13th, 2021, your base president filed a Base Grievance with Senior Management at LGA, alleging just that. Although Direct Connect is an entity that deals with all employee pay issues, we believe that the flight attendant workgroup, working under an agreed-upon contract, requires special conditions due to the JCBA. Going forward, we will be seeking a change in how you and your bargaining agent interact with Direct Connect. The Base Grievance process is a lengthy and extensive process your local leadership has decided to take on. We will update you as the case progresses. We have several cases to work off, but as you know, data is king, and more data to show the problem exists is what we are looking for. Therefore, we need your help gathering information. We are looking for incidents where Direct Connect has responded to Flight Attendant’s claims by quoting contractual language. We are also looking for examples where the Direct Connect response took longer than two weeks. If you have had either of these experiences, please forward that information to firstname.lastname@example.org with the title Direct Connect.
The annual benefits enrollment began yesterday and end on November 5th. Please take a good look at the options and use all the resources available to have all your questions answered. Click Here for the 2022 Annual Enrollment Cheat Sheet
PERSONAL DAYS OFF – PO
The attendance policy affords flight attendants two contractual PO’s a year for personal emergencies. Any other PO’s granted are at the discretion of your FSM. Please always discuss whether a PO is chargeable or not with your FSM and make a note of this. We find instances where PO’s are granted, and no record is created, leaving the flight attendant with more points than expected. FSM’s are there to support and advocate for us. Please always discuss your reasons without disclosing personal medical issues.
Although the company keeps the Comply365 Destination Specific section of the tablet updated with any self-quarantine requirements to countries we fly to, I continue to meet with the company to find ways to approach these governments in easing up these restrictions. We begin service to DEL and now have a long layover in SCL. I will be sure to send you an update as soon as I have more information. What is in place today can change at a moment’s notice. Please always check your tablet, and when in doubt, reach out to us.
COMMUNICATION WITH OFFICERS
It is challenging to keep up with messages that do not come via our official APFA email. We want to use Facebook messenger, but it simply is not productive when we have so many emails to go through. We may not see your message if you try to communicate with us by any unofficial means. Please use our APFA email addresses to communicate any union business with us. It is the most secure way to communicate with us.
NEW ADDITION TO TEAM NEW YORK
I am excited to welcome Meilan Smith to Team New York. Meilan will assist the council with our New Hires, and essential communication has long been needed to simplify the role a union plays in a member’s everyday life at work. Meilan has experience in various aspects of the LGA base council, and I know she will be an asset to our team. She may be reached at email@example.com.
We live and work in challenging times, but when we support one another, we can get through anything. I know the struggle many of you must deal with when left stranded with no hotels and short of your pay when the company fails to follow our contract, but with communication and information, we can raise the bar. Every day that I serve New York, I do so with pride, and you will always have my commitment to represent you with all I have. Penelope and I have formed a team, we still have work to do, but we are well on our way.
Please fly and stay safe, taking care of one another, always.
Christian M. Santana
APFA LGA Base President
APFA LGA Base Vice President
Proud to Represent New York-LGA