Dear AFA: April 23, 2013

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Reported by Karen Hall

  • TSA Delays Knives on Planes
  • California Class Action Settlement
  • Calling ONSL Within Eight Hours of Departure
  • 787 Update
  • ATC Delays

Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen and welcome to Dear AFA, a democratic, Member driven Union of Flight Attendants for Flight Attendants.  Today is Tuesday, April 23, 2013 and this is Karen Hall, MEC Membership Engagement Chairperson, reporting.

TSA Delays Knives on Planes

Late yesterday, relenting to mounting pressure and opposition from our coalition of Flight Attendants, the TSA announced they will postpone their decision to allow small knives back onboard our aircraft until we've been provided an opportunity to be heard.  MEC President Greg Davidowitch addresses the developments in a letter today.

California Class Action Settlement

We have received notice that a settlement has been reached involving Flight Attendants and United Airlines in the state of California.  The proposed settlement, achieved through legal mediation, addresses the alleged violation of two of California Labor Code statues.  These statue sections 204 and 226 addressed the timeliness of payments and the information that must appear on an employees' pay stub. 

The complaint, filed on October 4, 2011, seeks civil penalties.  United denies all of the allegations, and rather than risk litigation has agreed to settle the issue.  The terms of the settlement, which still require judicial approval would provide the 4,236 Flight Attendants who were employed as a Flight Attendant at any time from October 4, 2010 to February 19, 2013 in California.  Eligible Flight Attendants who have worked out of LAX or SFO will receive a notice of the settlement from the claims administrator for the lawsuit and should follow the instructions.  A final hearing on the matter is expected to take place at the end of July 2013.

4,236 Flight Attendants are eligible for payments from a $925,000 pool, however lawyers and other fees will reduce the overall fund prior to distribution for those in the class.  The settlement provides for attorney fee's approximate to one-third of the amount of the fund.

As a reminder, AFA filed a Grievance MEC 6-11 in December 2011 stating our position that the company "has not properly paid Flight Attendants for work performed for United Airlines pursuant to the Collective Bargaining Agreement."  In addition to other criteria MEC 6-11 seeks:

"Five (5) hours of flight time credit for pay purposes for anguish and turmoil associated with failure to provide accurate, timely compensation, the undermining of employee/employer relationship for any affected Flight Attendant."

Our MEC Grievance is pending in the System Board.  Our Legal department is reviewing the settlement information and we will provide additional details and information when it becomes available. 

Calling ONSL Within Eight Hours of Departure

Recently, we've heard reports that some Flight Attendants have been receiving phone calls from from supervisors regarding calling ONSL within 8 hours of scheduled departure. 

It is reported, these supervisors are reminding Flight Attendants of the "9.N.2. responsibilities," referring to our Contract which states: "When a Flight Attendant is unable to take her/his flight, she/he will notify Inflight Scheduling in not less than eight hours, except in an emergency, before the flight is scheduled to depart, and will in any event give as much notice as possible". 

To be clear, you should advise the crew desk as soon as you realize you will need to place yourself ONSL.  If you know you will be unable to work, you should call as early as possible, in advance of the 8 hour timeframe.  However, if you do not know you will be unable to work, or become ill within the 8 hour period prior to departure, you should call the crew desk and notify them of your absence in accordance with the 9.N.2. requirements.

If your supervisor makes a notation in your work history or otherwise documents your absence as it relates to 9.N.2. you should contact your Local Council by filing a Local Council Worksheet on our website.

We have filed MEC Grievance 4-13 on this issue and expect the case to move to the System Board.

787 Update

This past Friday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved the fix developed by Boeing for the 787 aircraft.  Boeing has dispatched technicians around the world to make the necessary changes, which are expected to take about 5 days per airplane to complete. 

Following the FAA's ruling, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chairman Deborah Hersman said, "We are looking for lessons learned…that can be applied to emerging technologies".  United has previously stated the expect to return the 787 to their schedule effective May 31, 2013.

ATC Delays

As expected, the furlough of Air Traffic Control (ATC) personnel related to the sequestration has begun to create significant delays and cancellations throughout the U.S. aviation industry. 

EWR, LAX and LGA are among the hardest hit so far, with LGA having 53% of its flights delayed on Monday.  Over the past two days, more than 600 flights have been cancelled and 12,000 flights have been delayed nationwide. 

In order to not compromise safety, the FAA has developed a plan to increase the distance between aircraft in flight, use more circuitous routes between destination points, and in some instances delay aircraft on the ground.  These measures are to address the problem of having fewer ATC personnel handing the same number of aircraft in the air.

These delays are having an impact on United's operation as well.  As the federal cuts continue to impact the FAA, we should be expect delays and irregular operations to continue.  Our Contract provides protections for us and flexibility to the company to continue operations.  Carry your Contract at all times, and always ask the Contract Section being used for changes to your schedule from the crew scheduler if you are contacted.  If you believe there is a discrepancy, report it to your Local Council for follow up.  The Contract Education page of our website contains a number of articles on reassignment, irregular operations, order of assignment and drafting to assist you.

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