Yes. AFA is focused on reaching an agreement with APFA. It is a simple fix to work with AFA to use the leverage of the US Airways contract in order to achieve a better outcome for all 24,000 Flight Attendants. Bankruptcy is over. Flight Attendants rightfully deserve a process that will produce improvements and our fair share of the benefits of the merger we helped create. We are disappointed with the actions of APFA on Merger Day One to tell American Flight Attendants not to talk US Airways Flight Attendants. This doesn’t help move us toward solutions based in unity, and it certainly doesn’t help set the tone we want at our new airline. We will not allow this to deter us, however, from our focus on reaching an agreement. We know that is what Flight Attendants want and we will continue to work hard for it.
2. Is AFA collecting representation authorization cards from American Flight Attendants?
As MEC President Roger Holmin wrote to Laura Glading last week, “We will state once again that AFA is not running a card campaign. Clearly, there are individual Flight Attendants who are concerned about the unresolved issues on bargaining and representation. We do not control our members, or any Flight Attendants. In the absence of an effort on the part of leaders to reach agreement, Flight Attendants are drawing their own conclusions and attempting to take some measure of control over their future. We cannot allow this uncertainty to continue for them when we have it within our power to meet and resolve these issues.”
APFA actions on the day of merger closure make clear they are running a campaign to stamp out 65 years of representation and bargaining for US Airways Flight Attendants. This is wrong and it is against the law for the company to allow their union-busting messages to be supported by management. When management signed the Bridge Agreement/CLA with APFA they attempted to choose your representation and your contract. APFA, absent an agreement with us, became a raiding union that day. Instead of doing the right thing and working with us on an agreement they are continuing to undermine our collective bargaining rights. We do not believe this represents what the Flight Attendants at the New American want. We are hearing unity – not division. We will continue to promote unity, understanding that we may be forced to defend the rights of all 24,000 Flight Attendants though a representation election.
3. What is the Process under the Law for Workers to Choose Union Representation?
Did You Know it was a case that AFA Legal brought forward that affirms contracts remain in place in a merger regardless of the representative? A change in union representation does not change the terms of the contracts in a merger. The certified union representative is charged with administering both contracts until a new single agreement is reached. AFA has decades of experience with mergers and defending the rights of Flight Attendants. AFA Legal has attorneys who are recognized as some of the world’s foremost experts on labor law under the Railway Labor Act. AFA members have built these resources over the years to ensure we have expert focus on our work as Flight Attendants.
4. When will we start bidding for the $40,000 Early Out?
Our contract requires that bidding will begin within 30 days of merger close. We are working with the company to produce thorough communications on this and information will be released in the coming week. Bidding will begin just after the New Year.
5. Why are pre-merger American workers getting an equity claim?
The merger close is also the bankruptcy exit date for American Airlines. The employee groups were large creditors in the American bankruptcy because they were required to give hundreds of millions of dollars in concessions. The equity claim amounts relate to the size of the concessions given, but only return the value at a far reduced rate. For example, American Flight Attendants had to forfeit profit sharing, take cuts to health care, reduce certain work rules, dismiss former grievances and agree to other concessions in order to get the equity claim. This is a common practice when corporations exit bankruptcy. AFA members who have been through bankruptcy before will recall receiving an equity claim based on concessions and the value of the stock when the airline emerges from bankruptcy.
6. Are the American Airlines frozen pensions and retirement benefits secure?
Yes. American Airlines Flight Attendants and other workers will no longer accrue a pension benefit going forward, but the accrual to date is secure. The pension has been frozen and the provisions of that pension plan cannot change. American Flight Attendants will receive a defined pension benefit according to the provision of the plan, but they will not accrue any further benefits under the plan. Instead, American Flight Attendants will receive a temporary catch up contribution to their 401k accounts to account for a partial loss of the defined pension benefit. Since contracts remain in place regardless of the certified representative, union representation has no bearing on the security of these retirement benefits. American Flight Attendants can count on these retirement benefits.
Going forward, if we choose to utilize the leverage we have with both contracts, we can decide together to negotiate further improvements to retirement that would benefit all 24,000 Flight Attendants.
Q & A on the Status of Negotiations
1.) Was there a final Agreement between AFA and APFA reached this summer?
No. During the summer, AFA and APFA explored options to reach an agreement. APFA has published two documents which they claim somehow represented an agreement. The first is clearly marked “Points to Discuss” which obviously does not represent an agreement. The second is a document called the “Strategic Partnership Agreement” which they have published with a huge watermarked APFA DRAFT on the document. Simply put, there was no agreement.
2.) Why was the APFA DRAFT “Strategic Partnership” proposal rejected as a framework by the AFA US Airways MEC?
With the concurrence of AFA US Airways President Roger Holmin, the US Airways Master Executive Council unanimously rejected the proposal. The document failed to address our concerns with the binding arbitration in the CLA, which APFA negotiated with Doug Parker. Through the CLA, management is attempting to use the merger as an opportunity to extract concessions from US Airways Flight Attendants. This would lower industry standards for Flight Attendants and squander an incredible opportunity for all 24,000 Flight Attendants after years of sacrifice – and as the industry rakes in billions. The proposal also failed to include an agreement to maximize our future potential by bringing our unions together to increase power for Flight Attendants and truly respect our two cultures in the merger.
3.) Why Does the Bargaining Process Contained in the APFA DRAFT proposal Not Work for Flight Attendants at the New American?
The agreement negotiated between Laura Glading and Doug Parker, with the American bankruptcy as the backdrop, uses the American Airlines Flight Attendant 2003 concessionary Agreement as modified by further concessions in the CLA as the base agreement. The problem with such an approach is it throws out the strong contract language and superior economic provisions of the US Airways Agreement.
The Draft Strategic Partnership proposal discussed briefly this summer allowed for some limited changes to bargaining such as a slightly longer timeframe and more input from US Airways Flight Attendants. But the backstop position if there was no agreement still was the CLA binding arbitration process with the industry-average standard and the CLA as the base agreement.
To truly get an industry-leading contract that contains the best of both contracts will require Laura Glading to break with Doug Parker and US Airways management and stand with us to demand an alternative to the CLA. The AFA contract provides this leverage and opportunity. AFA has repeatedly told both APFA leadership and US Airways management that the binding arbitration as defined by the CLA does not work for Flight Attendants. While we can understand why management does not care (they would love to eliminate the US Airways contract language), we do not understand why a union which claims to want to absorb 8000 US Airways Flight Attendants would want to impose concessions upon them.
4.) Why is APFA refusing to meet?
APFA is taking the position that the only option they will discuss is a framework which continues to use the process spelled out in the CLA. APFA’s entire message lately is that there was an agreement reached between AFA and APFA this summer. This would be like management saying because a proposal was rejected they would never negotiate again. If both sides were willing to seriously negotiate an agreement, we could lock ourselves in a room and finalize a deal.
The reality is we have real concerns with the CLA and focusing on an alleged agreement is a way of diverting attention from the substance of our dispute. Let’s focus on the real questions at stake: Which contract provisions on scope, vacation, and sick do we want to incorporate? How can we join together to prevent Doug Parker and US Airways management from using the merger to impose further concessions? What process do we need to truly achieve the best of both agreements? What could we accomplish through a true merger of our two unions? These are the questions we need to be discussing.
5.) Preserving Our Second Bite at the Apple
Earlier this year we ratified our contract to expand our job protections, increase pay and get a seat at the table to achieve a second bite at the apple. This merger is our golden moment. It’s our opportunity to bargain for additional improvements and the best possible contract at the world’s largest airline. Our contract provides the foundation and leverage to do that.
Our two airlines are joining together to create a more powerful alliance and we as Flight Attendants can do the same. We can maximize the leverage of our contract to achieve our fair share of the benefits of this merger. This is about the quality of our lives, total benefit package, safety in the workplace, work rules and longevity. Now is the time to work together to rebuild our careers.
We fought too long and too hard to let management throw out our contract and deny our opportunity for a second bite at the apple. We need an agreement for all 24,000 Flight Attendants that includes our fair share of the benefits of the merger.
6.) APFA Didn’t Know We Would Get a Contract with Leverage for More
We understand that APFA members have had a hard time over the last decade. Their union leaders tried diligently to negotiate a contract without result for four years. Then, they had to face additional concessions in bankruptcy. Within that context and the inability of APFA to reach an agreement with improvements, it is understandable that binding arbitration at an industry-average standard might sound acceptable. When the CLA was negotiated they had no idea AFA members would achieve a contract with leverage to achieve more. But we did. And now we need to work together to make the most out of it.
This is our time and we cannot allow management to use the American bankruptcy to define our future at the New American. We can do better together and we encourage all of us to focus on that.