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11.25.21 – Pausing to Reflect and Give Thanks

APFA Special Hotline

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Pausing to Reflect and Give Thanks

Another tumultuous year is in the books. COVID-19 and work-related struggles continued into 2021, yet we have much for which to be thankful. We all continue to do our part to protect our careers while ensuring American’s success.

The challenges we have faced since early 2020 are plenty, yet we have met each challenge head-on. We should always look towards the future, yet we should also engage in thoughtful reflection and acknowledge what we have accomplished over the past two years. None of our choices have been simple, and some have been agonizing. Airline employees have never faced such a prolonged crisis, and we should be proud of what Labor Unions accomplished while working together during a time of unprecedented crisis.

The last two years have been a blur of difficult choices and changes.

Pausing to Reflect: Since COVID-19 Began…

Early 2020

  • APFA consistently advocates for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for all our Flight Attendants to be available on every aircraft, for social distancing between passengers and crew jump seats, for thermal scanning in the airports, and to receive an immediate notification of Flight Attendants who have tested positive for the virus. Flight Attendants are aviation’s first responders transporting medical personnel and supplies into COVID-19 hotspots, and they need to be treated and protected as such. 
  • APFA collaborates with other Flight Attendant Unions across the industry to lobby for the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of 2020 (CARES Act). The bill contains protections for frontline workers as our nation deals with the crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Flight Attendants have been on the front lines of this pandemic conducting the important work of maintaining interstate commerce and transporting medical personnel and supplies. 


March/April/May 2020

  • APFA Negotiates the first of many Letters of Agreement with American Airlines to provide pay protection to those Flight Attendants who lost flying due to the emerging COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • APFA joins other Unions in the push for Personal Protective Equipment for employees to protect against the transmission of COVID-19.
  • APFA pushes for seat blocking to allow Flight Attendants more space near jumpseats on certain aircraft.
  • APFA negotiates a ‘No-Schedule’ Lineholder option to allow Flight Attendants to have a zero-line due to the 80% reduction in flying activity for the May 2020 bid month caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • APFA negotiates Paid Voluntary Leaves of Absence (PVLOA) offered in durations of 3, 6, 9, or 12 months to help mitigate a staffing overage caused by the pandemic.
  • APFA sends letters to Government leaders to push for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), social distancing, and contact tracing for Flight Attendants. 
  • APFA Government Affairs and other Flight Attendant Unions successfully move Washington to require masks for everyone onboard the aircraft, not just the Flight Attendants.
  • APFA continues to push for passage of the HEROES Act and advocates for a uniform federal mandate for aviation safety standards.


June/July/August 2020

  • APFA, in collaboration with other Labor Unions, aggressively pursues additional support from Congress. The Payroll Support Program (PSP) within the CARES Act successfully stabilized aviation workers and their families and prevented further strains from increasing unemployment on our economy. The most straightforward way to ensure this continuity was to renew the existing program in its original form and extend our job security into 2021. Click here to read the letter from President Hedrick to Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Leader McCarthy, and Leader Schumer.
  • APFA successfully delays the closing of the Raleigh/Durham and St. Louis Flight Attendant bases from November 2020 to February 2021 to avoid further holiday disruptions for Flight Attendants based at those locations.
  • Beginning with the October bid month, American announces reduced staffing on international wide-body and transcontinental flights to FAA minimums, plus one additional Flight Attendant. APFA disagrees with any reduction in staffing and later files a Presidential Grievance.
  • APFA, AFA-CWA, and TWU 556 Flight Attendant Unions send a letter to aviation leaders uniting against any concessions for our Members.
  • American Airlines sends Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) Notifications indicating Flight Attendant furloughs possible. Flight Attendant Unions across the industry continue to collaborate and lobby for an extension of the Payroll Support Program contained within the CARES Act to keep all Flight Attendants connected to their pay and healthcare.
  • APFA Negotiates a Voluntary Early Out Program (VEOP) and paid Extended Voluntary Leaves of Absence (EVLOA) to reduce involuntary Flight Attendant furloughs. VEOP includes a Retirement Health Reimbursement Account up to $150,000 and lump sum or extended payout options for those leaving American. EVLOA’s include continued healthcare and pay for leaves.
  • In response to Flight Attendant feedback, APFA negotiates Short-Term Leaves of Absence (STLOA) to further reduce involuntary furloughs.
  • APFA Government Affairs continues the push on Capitol Hill to extend the successful Payroll Support Program to end the planned involuntary furloughs. Flight Attendants across the industry email and call their elected representatives.  
  • APFA continues to negotiate pay protections each month to protect time lost because of the worsening COVID-19 pandemic.
  • American Airlines announces a furlough of 8,099 Flight Attendants as a result of staffing overages caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. APFA continues to advocate for an extension of the Payroll Support Program.


September/October/November 2020

  • APFA Flight Attendants, AFA-CWA Flight Attendants, and members of the TWU and IAM begin a series of #ReliefNow events at key Senate offices around the country in support of a clean extension of the Payroll Support Program.

#ReliefNow- DFW

  • APFA joins other Unions at a rally in Washington, D.C. to continue to fight for those facing furlough through an extension of the Payroll Support Program.  
  • Weeks of Action continue to push for aviation worker relief. In the press release, President Hedrick states, “The political games must stop now. This is not public service. Our citizens are struggling. On October 1st, thousands of U.S. aviation jobs will disappear unless Congress and the White House compromise immediately. These are our lives and our livelihoods. When our nation is getting back to work, over 75,000 aviation workers will be turned over to a weak job market or unemployment insurance. Washington: Save our jobs. Keep us flying. Let us propel the nation’s economic recovery. Negotiate a stimulus bill. Extend the Payroll Support Program before it is too late. We will NOT accept inaction.”
  • APFA continues to stand against racial injustice. Labor Unions have always been and must continue to be at the forefront of these conversations.  
  • Aircraft staffing changes challenged by APFA.
  • Congressional Flight Attendant Champion Peter DeFazio continues to push for a Payroll Support Program extension to keep our furloughed Flight Attendants on the payroll and connected to healthcare.In her statement, Speaker Pelosi states, “As relief for airline workers is being advanced, the airline industry must delay these devastating job cuts.”
  • APFA opens an Unemployment Resource Page and hosts Town Halls to assist Flight Attendants with the complex process of filing unemployment and challenging denials.
  • APFA continues Weeks of Action to push for a Payroll Support Program extension to bring our furloughed colleagues back to active status as quickly as possible.


December 2020

  • APFA applauds service animal safety enhancements.
  • Congress passes an emergency relief package that will return the jobs of tens of thousands of furloughed aviation workers and provide much-needed relief to Americans across the country. This was a Union-led effort. Together, Labor Unions (APFA, AFA-CWA, TWU, APA, ALPA, CAPA, IAM, IBT, SWAPA) ensured that Congress did not hand over a blank check that lacked worker protections. Instead, the government support will directly preserve our jobs and our healthcare through March 31st, 2021.


January 2021

  • APFA addresses the violence in Washington, D.C., which threatened Flight Attendants’ safety and other passengers on flights into and out of our Nation’s Capital. Updates on what APFA is doing to protect Flight Attendants follows later in the week.


Press Release: American Airlines Flight Attendant Union Committed to the Safety and Protection of Our Flight Attendants on and off the Aircraft.

  • APFA announces the first-ever APFA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee via a resolution passed at the Board of Directors Meeting last fall, continuing our commitment to support equality and racial diversity both in our workplace and in the communities in which we reside.
  • APFA highlights the unprecedented rise in Flight Attendant assaults and disruptions across the industry.  
  • President Biden enacts a federal mask mandate, providing necessary backup for Flight Attendants who encounter passengers refusing to comply with airline policies. Public transportation is a shared space, and we welcome this executive order, which is, frankly, overdue.
  • APFA co-hosts a Q&A session with Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to ask questions about a Payroll Support Program extension, aviation security, and other issues affecting aviation’s frontline essential workers.
  • APFA addresses the possibility of another round of Flight Attendant furloughs as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to suppress travel demand.


February 2021

  • APFA joins other Labor Unions to push for a further extension of the successful Payroll Support Program in light of continued suppressed travel demand and the threat of more involuntary Flight Attendant furloughs. 
  • APFA negotiates another Voluntary Early Out Program (VEOP) and additional Extended Voluntary Leaves of Absence (EVLOA) to help address the continued staffing overage caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  
  • APFA continues to support the fight against Human TraffickingTraffickers often target the Super Bowl. Flight Attendants are in a unique position to report traffickers and save lives.
  • APFA continues the push to make the COVID-19 vaccine available to Flight Attendants in the highest category possible. 


March 2021

  • APFA continues to support an extension of the Payroll Support Program to keep all Flight Attendants connected to pay and healthcare.
  • APFA Leadership passes seven resolutions at this year’s Annual Convention to ensure APFA’s financial health and achieve full transparency. 
  • APFA celebrates the extension of the Payroll Support Program.

This was a Union-led effort,” said Julie Hedrick, National President of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA). “By standing together, Labor Unions ensured that any financial assistance from the government-protected frontline workers. The PSP funding directly preserves our jobs and our healthcare for another six months. APFA members and our Union brothers and sisters have worked really hard for this. APFA members alone sent more than 70,000 messages on the PSP to Congress this year. We showed up, we wrote letters, we tied up phone lines, and blasted social media. And our efforts were successful.”

April 2021

  • APFA secures pay protection for partial and full sequence 737 MAX cancellations. These pay protections are similar to those used for the COVID-19 cancellations.
  • APFA Leadership pushes back on the full return of onboard service to retain limited customer touchpoints as the pandemic continues. APFA is also successful in keeping alcohol out of the main cabin to curb the surge of Flight Attendant assaults.


May 2021

  • APFA applauds the extension of the federal mask mandate. We are grateful that TSA Administrator David Pekokse and FAA Administrator Steve Dickson continue to understand the importance of having government backing to enforce mask compliance on the airplane.
  • APFA secures Letter of Agreement to compensate for Pre-Departure COVID Testing.
  • APFA joins AFA-CWA and TWU 556 in the push to include aviation workers in the Illinois Sick Leave Act.

APFA, TWU, and AFA-CWA Flight Attendants meet with IL State Representatives in Springfield, IL


July 2021

  • APFA files a Presidential Grievance against American Airlines to address the never-ending violations to JCBA Section 6 (Crew Accommodations). 
  • APFA Leadership and the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) were proud to stand in solidarity with the Massachusetts Nurses Association as they continue the fight for safe patient care and respect for the essential workers who selflessly care for our health everyday!


August 2021

  • APFA attends DFW infrastructure meeting with Department of Transportation Secretary Buttigieg and Texas Congressional Leadership. President Hedrick uses the opportunity to discuss additional Flight Attendant issues ranging from 10-hour minimum rest rule implementation to the alarming uptick in Flight Attendant assaults.
  • APFA and other Flight Attendant Unions successfully lobby for another extension of the federal mask mandate onboard the aircraft. Air travel is shared space, and some of our passengers, including children, cannot yet get vaccinated. As long as COVID-19 infection rates are high, air travelers will continue to be best served by a clear and consistent federal mandate across the industry.
  • APFA Flight Attendants participate in evacuation flying as The U.S. Department of Defense notifies American Airlines that they have activated Stage 1 of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF).


September 2021

  • APFA selects the Committee Chairs for the APFA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and begins to host virtual meetings.
  • APFA honors the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. APFA Leadership is present in locations across the country, including New York City, Washington, D.C., Grapevine, TX, and Shanksville, PA. Flight Attendants participated in ceremonies across the country, including Boston, MA, San Diego, CA, and Tempe, AZ.


  • APFA plants the 9/11 Survivor Tree Seedling at APFA Headquarters to serve as a permanent remembrance of those lost during the attacks on 9/11 and to tell a continuing story of survival, resilience, and hope.
  • APFA Flight Attendant Teddy Andrews testifies testifies before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation on the topic of Air Rage. Read Teddy’s full testimony here.


ORD Air Rage Town Hall- 9/29/21

October 2021


November 2021

  • APFA negotiates the opportunity for up to 300% pay associated with Holiday Peak periods and Perfect Attendance as well as Positive Space commuting for the upcoming busy holiday travel season as an acknowledgment of the struggles Flight Attendants have endured flying the line over the past 23 months. 
  • APFA ensures that solutions to the rise in passenger disruptions and Flight Attendant assaults remain top of mind for airlines, the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration. President Hedrick sends letters to Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Buttigieg and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to continue pushing for a federal “no-fly” list.


Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic

  • APFA conducts over 35 virtual Town Halls on issues including Involuntary Furloughs, Displacements, Unemployment, Reserve Survival, Retirement, Leaves of Absence, Early Out Programs, PBS Bidding, Involuntary Furlough Returns, Negotiations, and Base Closures.


…Giving Thanks

None of these accomplishments would have been possible without an engaged Flight Attendant membership. Flight Attendants have spent the better part of two years contacting their elected representatives to ensure all members remained employed and connected to health benefits. When 8,000 of our colleagues were furloughed, our calls for Congress to take aggressive action only intensified. We have endured so much: furloughs, base closures, displacements, verbal assaults while enforcing mask compliance, and physical assaults seemingly out of nowhere, to name a few.

With renewed optimism, we see a light at the end of the tunnel. We are witnessing the world reopening, reconnecting with friends and family, and helping our customers feel safe and comfortable as they return to travel.

The list of accomplishments above is long. Be proud of what you, as Union members, have accomplished over the last two years.

We are thankful for our collaboration with Labor Unions across the industry– our voices are amplified when we stand together and push towards common goals.

We are thankful for your support, and we wish you good health and happiness throughout the holiday season.

With thanks and gratitude,

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