Dear AFA: January 04, 2013

Date: January 4, 2013
Type: Dear AFA

Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen and welcome to Dear AFA.  A democratic, Member driven Union of Flight Attendants for Flight Attendants. Today is Friday, January 4, 2013 and this is Denver Council 9 Volunteer, Allen Ward reporting.

Profit Sharing Special Election Action Required

As provided for in the Letter of Agreement reached early last year between AFA and the company, Flight Attendants will be given the ability to determine how they will receive their Profit Sharing payment. The company has completed the necessary programming to provide Flight Attendants the ability to designate how they wish to receive their annual Profit Sharing payment. 

Flight Attendants have the option to receive their Profit Sharing as a tax-deferred payment to the Direct Contribution Plan (401(k)), and/or on an after tax basis into a Roth 401(k) plan account, and/or cash or in any combination thereof.

Now is the time to act if you intend to direct any money into your Retirement Accounts.  Elections to direct money into your 401(k) must be on file no later than 2359 Central Standard Time on January 22, 2013.

Flight Attendants who do not make a special election for their Profit Sharing will receive the entirety of their Profit Sharing payment as taxable cash compensation. Profit sharing cash compensation is subject to applicable taxation and withholding which for U.S. taxpayers is at the federal supplemental (higher) rate. Additional information can be found on our website.

Payroll Tax Increases 2 Percent

On Tuesday, Congress reached a compromise on the Bush-era tax cuts that address some, but not all of our concerns. Unemployment benefits have been extended for one year, prevention of a scheduled 27% Medicare cut has also been averted and changes to Social Security were availed. Your efforts in contacting your representatives played a vital role in this success.

One significant fall-out from the compromise bill is the failure to extend the payroll tax cut, which results in a permanent hike in payroll taxes for everyone beginning January 1, 2013. As of this year, everyone will now pay a 2% higher payroll tax. The employee share of Social Security withholding has increased from 4.2% to 6.2%. While this will result in less take-home pay, the additional amount collected will support the system of which we are all a part.

As a result of the discontinuation of that tax suspension, United will complete their programming of the new tax rate in their computers prior to issuing the January 16 paycheck. Payroll will also make an appropriate tax adjustment on our January 16 check for all employees who were issued any payroll checks since January 1, 2013. As with all financial matters with United payroll, we encourage you to carefully scrutinize your pay records and deductions to verify they are accurate.

Reserve Vacation Pay Settlement Checks

We recently reported on the settlement of MEC 5-12 and have agreed to resolve the Contract violation reducing the Reserve guarantee resulting from the improper application of vacation to Reserve schedules.  Reserve Flight Attendants who were on vacation beginning April 2012 through January 2013 and whose Reserve Line, showed a reduced Reserve minimum guarantee, due to the company reducing their guarantee as a result of vacation will receive a separate adjustment check.

In making the determination of how individuals were impacted, the company was able to go back and compare the original value of the Reserve minimum (78) to the reduced value of the Reserve minimum after vacation was applied to the schedule for the specific month involved. This difference represents the number of hours for which Flight Attendant were paid. This value (or difference) was calculated for each month in which a Flight Attendant was on Reserve and had a vacation.
 
In determining the amount of money to be paid, the monthly difference was multiplied by the applicable hourly rate of pay for the schedule month involved. For those Flight Attendants still progressing through the pay scale, the hourly rate of pay might be different between months. 
 
In addition, the cumulative total of the hours for all of the months involved was multiplied by $1.93 – the rate of pay for Reserve override.

Following discussions with United Payroll, the company has determined that payments will be processed in the following manner:

Reserves who had vacation in April 2012 to November 2012 were paid in a lump sum by a separate paycheck on January 3, 2013. 

Reserves who had vacation in December 2012 will be paid via a separate paycheck to be issued mid-January.

Reserves who have vacation in January 2013 lines of flying will be adjusted to reflect a Reserve minimum guarantee (78) unreduced by the application of vacation. (As a clarification, the 78 hour Reserve minimum can be reduced by without pay absences including ANP, GWOP and DAT.)

The company expects the automation will be correct for the February 2013 lines of flying.  Such that there will be no reduction to Reserve minimum guarantee.   

Payroll was able to issue checks to all affected Flight Attendants who had vacation in April 2012 to November 2012 on January 3, 2013. (Total payments were made based on the methodology described above.)  Payments were made in the same manner (direct deposit or paycheck) by which you receive your regular pay.

In the event you believe you have not been paid the correct number of hours based on the reduction to your Reserve minimum guarantee following the application of vacation, please contact your Local Council Office for assistance. Please be prepared to provide specific information that supports your assertion that an error has been made. Research will be conducted to determine if an error was made and any necessary corrections will be made by the company.

Changes to 2013 CQ

Beginning this month, United will be implementing changes to the 2013 Continuing Qualification (CQ). United has added a second day to CQ for training for the B737 and customer service.

Reserve Flight Attendants whose seniority fell below the Senior Designated Reserve in 2012, and whose CQ 'must go' or 'due' month was in October, November or December (2012), will be subject assignment to a 1-day B737 and Customer Service Training. This new day-two training will be scheduled between January through September 2013 (except February) and is in preparation for the arrival of new Boeing 737 aircraft to be flown by United Flight Attendants. At this time, Flight Attendants domiciled at international locations will not be scheduled or required to attend this new day-two of training.  

Also beginning with the CQ 2013 program, Flight Attendants will no longer see a Unimatic entry log indicating that the CQ computer based training (CBT) has been completed. Instead, Flight Attendants will verify completion of their CBTs by going to the United Learning Network (ULN) home page, and clicking on the "MyTranscript" button. 

Additional information concerning 2013 CQ changes can be found in United's CQ packet. 

Errors with the 2013 Uniform Points Allocation

Some Flight Attendants are reporting that they are having problems with their 2013 uniform point allocation.  The source of this problem is not immediately clear.
 
The company is aware of these isolated problems. Management will be working with Cintas to determine the exact cause of the issue(s).  In the interim, if you don't see your 2013 point allotment in the Cintas system when you sign in, management is recommending that you "hold off" on ordering any optional accessory items until the discrepancy with your uniform points balance is resolved. You are encouraged to "shop", even to add items to the cart. Do not complete the checkout process. We received some reports that Flight Attendants were encouraged to place the order using a credit card to supplement the missing points. Following review by management, Flight Attendants are to be discouraged from providing their credit card information to the Cintas representative unless it is their specific intent to purchase uniform items.  Contact your supervisor for assistance in resolving any discrepancy in your uniform points balance.

Hurricane Sandy Hardship Withdrawal Option

On November 16, 2012, the Internal Revenue Service announced that qualified retirement plans would be able to make loans and hardship/unforeseeable emergency distributions to victims of Hurricane Sandy and members of their families who live or work in the disaster area. In addition, the six (6) month suspension of contributions normally in effect for participants after taking a hardship distribution will not apply. 

In order to be eligible for this withdrawal, Flight Attendants must certify that your principal residence or your place of employment on October 26 was located in a covered Hurricane Sandy disaster area or that you have a lineal ascendant or descendant, dependent or spouse which had a principal residence or place of employment on October 26 that was located in a covered hurricane sandy disaster area and you or your lineal ascendant or descendant, dependent or spouse experienced a financial hardship caused by hurricane sandy. Also to be eligible you must have exhausted all reasonably available financial resources, including your spouse's financial resources, to meet this need. 

Please keep in mind the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may ask you to substantiate your reason for this withdrawal and it will be your responsibility to properly account for this distribution on your income tax returns. 

To review the disaster areas that are listed on the IRS website please visit http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/Help-for-Victims-of-Hurricane-Sandy

For more information or to request a loan affected Flight Attendants should contact Fidelity Investments at 800-245-9034.

That's all for this evening!  Thank you for calling.  Remember: One Airline. One Contract. Building Our Future Together!

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