Showing posts with label AFA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label AFA. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

ASA flight attendants ratify new three-year contract

ASA flight attendantFlight attendants at Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA) have a new contract. The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), the union representing ASA's flight attendants, announced yesterday that the flight attendants had overwhelmingly ratified a three year agreement.

According to the union, the new contract contains economic gains, as well as significant work rule improvements that will improve the lives of the hardworking flight attendants at ASA. In addition, the new contract will serve as a good building block for the next round of contract negotiations that will begin in three years.

“We are very pleased that this agreement ratified,” said Jeannie Babb, AFA-CWA Master Executive Council President. “It represents almost five years of hard work which could not have been accomplished without the commitment of the negotiating committee and the support of the flight attendants at ASA. We would like to also acknowledge the assistance that the National Mediation Board provided during the negotiations.”

[Photo Source]

Monday, July 14, 2008

Largest flight attendant union in the U.S. endorses Barack Obama for President

Barack ObamaThe Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), the largest flight attendant union in the United States, recently announced their support for Sen. Barack Obama in his bid to become President of the United States. Over 200 flight attendant leaders voted by acclamation to endorse Sen. Obama during AFA-CWA's 35th annual meeting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, according to a news release issued by the AFA.

More from the AFA news release:

The Board's resolution stated that, "In the coming years, many decisions that could reshape the face of aviation will be made while the chorus for unfettered global aviation ownership and service grows louder. Also, it is crucial that policymakers in Washington realize that the U.S. aviation system since deregulation has failed airline employees, communities and consumers. We are at a turning point and need a President who recognizes this struggle."

AFA-CWA remains committed to supporting political candidates of all parties. The only criteria is that the candidate support issues important to the flight attendant profession and the improvement of working women's and men's lives.

"While AFA-CWA strongly supports both Democrats and Republicans for offices that have an impact on the flight attendant profession, the record of the two candidates for President, on issues of importance to our industry and our profession, the choice is clear," added AFA-CWA. "We must choose the future for our profession that continues to value our work as front line responders and safety professionals in a strong and vibrant U.S. aviation system."
The AFA represents more than 55,000 flight attendants at 20 airlines. AFA is part of the 700,000-member strong Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFL-CIO.

[Photo Source]

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Flight attendant union protests Midwest Airlines pay cuts

AFA-CWA logoLate last month I reported that Midwest Airlines not only intends to reduce its flight attendant work force by more than half, but is asking those who remain on the job to accept massive cuts in pay and benefits. These proposals have infuriated the flight attendants at Midwest Airlines, and rightly so, since they already earn 19 percent less than flight attendants at other low fare carriers.

Last evening the flight attendants publicly protested these draconian reductions in pay, but it was not just Midwest Airlines flight attendants who participated in the event. Hundreds of flight attendants from 20 carriers joined in the protest as a show of solidarity with the flight attendants of Midwest Airlines.

The flight attendants -- all members of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), the union that represents Midwest Airlines flight attendants -- formed up at the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee and held a candlelight march to the Midwest Center. There they heard remarks made by AFA-CWA International President Patricia Friend, AFA-CWA Midwest President Toni Higgins and a guest from the Milwaukee Central Labor Council.

The AFA leadership explains the situation that prompted this public protest:

In June, in order to offset rising fuel prices and a failed business plan, Midwest Airlines management hired an outside consulting firm, the Seabury Group, to present the flight attendants with a proposal that included furloughing half the work force, over 55 percent pay cuts for those remaining and additional slashes to current work rules. AFA-CWA was given the proposal without any supporting information or documentation and told that, if not accepted, management would have no choice but to file for bankruptcy. After repeated requests by AFA-CWA, management finally supplied background on the proposal, however the information provided was inaccurate and incomplete.

According to the Seabury Group's plan, the proposed Midwest flight attendant pay scale was compiled by taking the average pay rate of flight attendants from smaller carriers and reducing the average by 15 percent. However, as management continued to insist that the concessions were "fair and equitable" for all work groups, calculations for management and non-union employee concessions were based on average salaries at larger, more profitable mainline carriers such as Southwest and Delta.

AFA-CWA has notified management of its intent to negotiate, but not under the current proposed terms. In 2003, Midwest flight attendants took concessions to help the company avoid bankruptcy. Shortly after the concessionary contract was signed, management rewarded themselves with pay restoration and increases, while flight attendants and pilots continued to work under the reduced wages and work rules.
Currently, Midwest Airlines flight attendants earn between $17,000 and $39,000 annually. Should the airline management's proposed pay cuts be implemented, the flight attendants would earn only $13,000 to $25,000 per year.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Midwest Airlines flight attendants call proposed concessions 'ludicrous'

Midwest AirlinesMidwest Airlines is seeking to reduce its flight attendant work force by more than half, and also wants those remaining on the job to agree to massive cuts in pay and benefits. This week the Seabury Group, an outside consulting firm hired by Midwest Airlines, presented this potentially devastating plan to the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), the union representing Midwest's flight attendants. The union called the proposed concessionary package "ludicrous."

The plan proposes to cut 217 flight attendant positions, meaning over half of the Midwest Airlines flight attendants would lose their jobs. Those remaining would be asked to agree to hourly pay rate cuts ranging from 34 to 56 percent, plus other concessions that would reduce their income even further.

The union leadership calls the proposed plan "ludicrous" because Midwest Airlines flight attendants already earn 19 percent less than flight attendants at other low cost carriers. The AFA points out that the proposed Seabury plan included no supporting evidence to indicate that Midwest Airlines flight attendants' pay is too high.

In response to the proposed plan, Dory Klein, President of the Midwest Airlines unit of the AFA stated:

"This proposal is insulting, irrational, and fails to be fair and equitable. Midwest flight attendants are currently working under concessions that were negotiated five years ago in order for management to have the resources they needed to return our airline to profitability. Since that time, management has failed to create a viable business plan. It should be their responsibility to carry the burden of restructuring, not the flight attendants'.

"We have made repeated requests to review management and non-contract employee concessions, but have not received this information, which is particularly critical in light of what happened during our last round of concessions in 2003. Shortly after we took pay and work rule cuts, management gave themselves a pay increase and restored the concessions from all other non-union work groups."
The union leader said, "As we wait and see what the future holds for Midwest Airlines, we will continue to do everything we can to protect the careers of Midwest flight attendants."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Details of the United Airlines Flight Attendant 'Early Out' Program

United AirlinesLast week, United Airlines announced plans to retire 100 aircraft, end its low-fare Ted service, and cut over 1,000 jobs. In conjunction with those plans, the airline announced that it will offer "a one-time opportunity for eligible flight attendants to voluntarily separate from the company." Known as the Early Out Program, the voluntary separations will be made available for up to 600 senior United flight attendants.

The United Airlines announcement about the Early Out Program summarizes:

Flight attendants who are at least 45 years old and have at least 15 years of flight attendant service with the company as of August 1, 2008 will be eligible to participate. Participants will be entitled to severance payments based on years of service and retiree travel benefits.
Sounds potentially attractive on the surface, but is this a good deal for senior flight attendants or not? The answer is, "It depends."

Mostly it depends on whether the flight attendant has another source of income to rely on, and access to affordable health insurance coverage.

The present Early Out Program is based on a collective bargaining agreement reached between United Airlines and the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), the union representing United's flight attendants. The details of the Early Out Program have been made available on the public section of the website of the United Master Executive Council (MEC) of AFA:
  • Eligibility
    • Flight attendants aged 45 or greater, and with at least 15 years service are eligible for the Early Out.

    • Flight attendants aged 55 or greater, and with at least 15 years service are eligible for retirement, plus the Early Out.

  • Early Out Severance Pay will consist of $500 for each year of service as a Flight Attendant up to 25 years ($12,500 cap). Total pay is distributed in 12 equal installments beginning January 2009.
    • Example: 18 years of Flight Attendant service equals $9000. This would be paid out at $750 per month, before taxes, for 12 months.

  • Travel Benefits - retiree travel pass benefits provided for all Early Out participants.

  • Life Insurance will be provided only for those who enter retirement at the time of the Early Out.

  • Medical Insurance will be provided for those Early Out participants who also retire, but not to those who are too young to do so. The latter will be able "to purchase COBRA for continued medical coverage for 18 months at the full cost of the insurance and administration."
United Airlines flight attendants who meet the age and length of service criteria for the Early Out Program would have been employed by the airline prior to and during the carrier's recent bankruptcy period. That means that they had their company pension plans terminated in 2005. At that time, United Airlines defaulted on its pension obligations, and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) took over pensions for workers at the airline, including the flight attendants.

Federal regulations limit the amount of pension payments the PBGC can make -- an amount far less than the original pensions -- and by law, that amount is further reduced if the worker retires early, i.e., before age 65. As a result, many flight attendants at United have since felt that they had no practical choice but to continue working until their 65th birthdays. To do otherwise would put them in serious financial straits.

In light of that situation, it seems that the current Early Out Program will be attractive mostly to those who already have a substantial second income, or whose spouses' or partners' income and health care benefits are sufficient to support them.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Flight attendant union files charges against Delta Air Lines

AFA-CWA logoThe Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) has filed formal charges with the National Mediation Board (NMB) against Delta Air Lines alleging that the carrier's management illegally interfered with a recent union representation election among Delta's flight attendants. The allegations "include substantial evidence that Delta flight attendants were denied a free and fair election due to management's aggressive tactics aimed at defeating union representation."

In February of this year, a majority of Delta Air Lines flight attendants signed cards indicating that they wanted union representation. This was the first step in the unionization process. The second step was an official election to determine union representation, a process which ended on May 28.

Under the rules of the NMB, which supervises such elections, 50%-plus-one of all those eligible to vote must do so in order for an election to be certified. In the recent election, only 40% of eligible Delta Air Lines flight attendants cast ballots, thus even though the vast majority of those votes favored the AFA, the election could not be certified.

In a statement issued by the AFA, the organization's International President, Patricia Friend, said, "Delta flight attendants were denied the opportunity to freely participate in this election without being intimidated by management and heavy-handed efforts to keep them from gaining a voice. A majority of Delta flight attendants wanted the opportunity to have an election and they deserve an election that is free and fair. We now look for the NMB to stand up for that right and hold Delta executives accountable for their actions."

The AFA has charged that Delta management acted illegally to suppress the union vote, leading to the less-than-majority turnout, and the subsequently nullified election result. The AFA says:

If the NMB finds sufficient evidence that illegal interference occurred, it can set a new election. AFA-CWA is asking for a new election with a balloting procedure that will limit the effects of any further illegal conduct by Delta management. By rerunning the election using a 'Laker' Ballot, flight attendants will be permitted to vote "Yes" or "No" for AFA-CWA representation. In the previous election, flight attendants were discouraged from participating in the voting process as only the "Yes" votes were counted, thereby automatically counting those who did not vote as "No" votes.
Meanwhile, Delta's plans for a merger with Northwest Airlines are moving forward. Northwest's flight attendants already are represented by the AFA, and they have expressed an intention to stay with the union after the merger is complete.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Delta flight attendant union certification election results

Poster in a Delta Airlines crew lounge urges flight attendants to rip up their union ballots.Balloting for the election to certify the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) as the collective bargaining unit representing Delta Air Lines flight attendants was completed today, May 28, 2008. The AFA reportedly won the "vast majority" of the votes cast, however only about 40% of those eligible to vote did so. Under the rules of the National Mediation Board (NMB), which supervised the election, a majority of eligible voters must cast ballots in order for the election outcome to be certified. Since that did not happen, the AFA cannot be certified as the union representative for Delta's flight attendants at this time.

Management at Delta Air Lines openly opposed flight attendant unionization. The AFA has claimed that an aggressive voter suppression campaign by Delta management kept thousands from casting a vote. Tactics included the posting of signs in flight attendants' crew lounges (see photo) "encouraging them to rip up the voting information before even bothering to read about their rights."

"For months, Delta management has touted its commitment to the democratic process, yet never let up on their intimidation and coercion of voters. Their empty rhetoric cannot conceal their interference. The conditions surrounding election were neither free nor fair, as required by NMB statutes. Now it is up to the National Mediation Board to defend the Delta flight attendants’ right to an election free of interference," said AFA International President Patricia Friend in a statement issued by AFA.

Delta Air Lines put a different spin on the outcome of the union certification election. Instead of mentioning that only about 40% of those eligible cast a vote, the airline's management interpreted the non-votes as NO votes, by stating the following in a Delta Air Lines press release issued today:

Delta Air Lines has received notification from the National Mediation Board (NMB) that a decisive majority – more than 60 percent – of eligible flight attendants rejected representation by the Association of Flight Attendants/Communication Workers of America (AFA) in the representation election at Delta, and the airline will continue a direct relationship with its flight attendants.

“We are pleased that Delta’s flight attendants clearly believe that our unique culture and direct relationship are worth preserving,” said Delta CEO Richard Anderson. “Delta continues to be the best advocate for its people, and our employees recognize the benefits of working together to enhance their careers and drive successful results for themselves and our company.”

Joanne Smith, senior vice president – In-Flight Service and Global Product Development, added, “This decision was one of the biggest our flight attendants faced in their career at Delta and it arose during some challenging times in our industry. Through all of these distractions – soaring fuel costs, a softening economy and an unrelenting AFA campaign of scare tactics and inaccurate information – the professionalism of all of our flight attendants shone as they maintained an unwavering focus on safety and service. This comes as no surprise however, because that is the Delta Difference; it is what sets us apart from the rest of this industry.
Not all Delta flight attendants share management's view of the situation, as evidenced by a particularly well-written opinion piece by a Delta flight attendant in today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Here is part of what she said:
To protect our future, it is critical that we have safeguards to keep management from destroying our profession —- safeguards that are detailed in a legally binding contract. Delta flight attendants want to maintain the quality of middle-class jobs that have benefited the local Atlanta economy and communities across the country for decades. We want to have a say in building and growing the world's largest airline.

What once was a "family style" environment at Delta is no more. This sad fact faces us each day. The new Delta is run by a group of executives who have only been around for nine months. People like former Northwest CEO Richard Anderson are making decisions that will affect the future of Delta flight attendants who have spent their lives building our company.

Our airline has evolved, and Delta flight attendants intend to do so as well. By becoming union members, we will actively defend our profession. We will protect our interests as we work alongside management in creating the world's largest airline.
There is another chapter to this story that has yet been told: When the Delta - Northwest Airlines merger takes place another union certification election will be held, since Northwest's flight attendants already are represented by AFA. Under the rules of the NMB, when a non-union work group merges with a union group, if 35 percent of combined workforce has union representation or signs a union card, a union election will automatically be called. That vote is expected to occur in early 2009.

[Photo Source]

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Delta flight attendants accuse management of suppressing union voters

Delta Airlines logoFlight attendants at Delta Air Lines voted earlier this year to unionize. A majority of Delta flight attendants already have submitted signature cards to the National Mediation Board (NMB), indicating that they wanted to be represented by a formal collective bargaining unit, even though Delta management has openly opposed the move toward flight attendant unionization.

Last week, Delta flight attendants began the next phase, casting their votes to decide whether the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) will be certified as their collective bargaining representative. The voting process, carried out under the supervision of the NMB, will continue until May 28, 2008. According to the rules, a majority of the entire flight attendant workforce must cast a vote in order for the election to be valid. Anything less than this majority turnout will void the election entirely, even if the union gets a clear majority of the votes cast.

Apparently the management of Delta Air Lines is persisting in its opposition to the union election, employing what AFA activists describe as "tactics of intimidation and interference, pushing flight attendants not to vote for the union." Earlier this week, a number of Delta flight attendants met with Congressional leaders to brief them on "Delta management’s aggressive voter suppression campaign during the current AFA-CWA representation election."

In a news release about their meetings with Congressional officials, the Delta flight attendants explain:

Management’s anti-union voter suppression campaign gained the attention of Capitol Hill earlier this month, prior to the start of the vote. In the U.S. Senate, 26 Senators submitted a letter to Delta Air Lines executives urging them to “demonstrate a genuine commitment to cooperative labor relations” and to remain neutral in this election. Delta executives never responded to the Senators’ letter. At the very moment Anderson was testifying in a U.S. House hearing on Delta’s announced merger with Northwest Airlines, management’s latest anti-union, voter suppression packet – with letters and a DVD – was being mailed to all flight attendants’ homes.

“Actions speak louder than words and management’s actions right now clearly indicate that they want to prevent us from having a union and having the right to negotiate a legally binding contract,” said Mara Levene, a Delta flight attendant and AFA-CWA activist. “Management will do whatever it takes to make sure that we do not have a voice. A solid majority of Delta flight attendants wanted this election and despite management’s fear tactics, bullying and intimidation, we remain determined and are voting for AFA-CWA representation.”
Delta CEO Richard Anderson testified in Congress last week that "management was supportive of the democratic process and would not engage in illegal interference." Not so, says Patricia Friend, AFA International President. “Their current actions to keep flight attendants from voting are anti-democratic and are a disgrace. Delta flight attendants have earned and deserve the right to have a voice in their future and a seat at the table,” said Ms. Friend.

Delta currently is seeking approval for a planned merger with Northwest Airlines. It is worth pointing out that Northwest's flight attendants already are represented by AFA. Delta's flight attendants have never had union representation.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Delta Air Lines opposes flight attendant unionization

Delta Airlines logoAs I wrote here in Cabin Crew News last month, Delta flight attendants are seeking union representation. In that article I wrote:

Up to now, Delta flight attendants have not been unionized. Although there has been growing dissatisfaction with pay and work rules among the rank and file, it seems that the tipping point came as Delta began engaging in merger talks with other carriers. Now a growing number of Delta's flight attendants are acknowledging the potential value of representation by a formal collective bargaining unit such as the AFA [the Association of Flight Attendants].
On February 14, 2008, a majority of Delta flight attendants did indeed submit signature cards to the National Mediation Board (NMB), formally requesting union representation. Yesterday, the NMB officially announced that the flight attendants' request for election of a union had been authorized. In its letter to Delta Air Lines and the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), the NMB indicated that "the election will be conducted by Telephone Electronic Voting and Internet Voting."
The Notice and Sample Instruction will be sent out on April 16, 2008. The Voting Instructions will be mailed to the employees on April 23, 2008. The voting period will be from 12:01 a.m., ET, April 23, 2008, through June 3, 2008. The tally will take place at the Board's offices on June 3, 2008, at 2 p.m. ET.
Today, Delta's response to this news was to issue a press release with a very lengthy title:

Delta Flight Attendants to Decide on Union Representation; Company Says Direct Relationship with Management Best for Flight Attendants

That title, folks, is the story in a nutshell. But there is a longer version. The press release, referenced above, included the text of a statement from Joanne Smith, senior vice president – In-Flight Service and Global Product Development, as follows:
“Delta flight attendants will make one of the most important decisions of their careers over the coming months as they choose between a direct relationship with Delta’s management team or the cost and risk of a third-party representative,” Smith said. “Our flight attendants have long been successful at speaking for themselves and we continually demonstrate our willingness to respond quickly and directly to their individual and collective feedback. I’m asking all of our flight attendants to make an educated choice, based on fact.

“The facts are: Delta flight attendants have it better than what the Association of Flight Attendants’ has been able to deliver at other airlines, and those airlines’ contracts are not open to changes for several years to come – years in which Delta flight attendants will continue to enjoy higher rates of pay, a better profit sharing program and a better performance rewards program.

“In contrast, the AFA’s track record at other network carriers is not a good one. The AFA has demonstrated that its members have not been protected from pay cuts, job loss, pension termination or any other changes affecting the airline industry. And flight attendants at those other airlines also must pay hundreds of dollars per year in union dues.

“Delta has good momentum thanks to the hard work of all Delta people and we look forward to the ability to continue working on their behalf and responding to their feedback,” Smith continued.
An Associated Press article about the upcoming union election, published on Forbes.com and elsewhere, quoted Corey Caldwell, an AFA-CWA spokeswoman, who said Smith's statement is "typical, anti-union rhetoric that companies use."
"The truth is when there is a union on property, there's just as much communication with management as there was before," Caldwell said. "The only thing that changes is this time the flight attendants get to determine the issues and policies that affect them as a group instead of being dependent on the company to make decisions for them."
For further insight about what rank-and-file Delta flight attendants are thinking about the unionization issue, visit the Delta Voices page of the website opened by AFA to support the campaign by Delta flight attendants for unionization. There, dozens of Delta flight attendants have come forward publicly to share with their flying partners their reasons for supporting the move to unionize.

Should Delta's flight attendants succeed in their bid to unionize, they will be airline's the second major work group to have union representation. At the present time, only Delta's pilots are represented by a union; they are represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA).

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Flight attendant hiring freeze at United Airlines?

United Airlines logoEarlier this month when I was researching an article about the profit-sharing distribution to United Airlines flight attendants, I noticed that the carrier was continuing to hire new cabin crew. I mentioned it here, and posted a link to the flight attendant careers page on the airline's website.

Then I began to hear a rumor that United had suspended recruitment of new flight attendants. The rumor caught me by surprise, so I decided to find out if it was true. I'm sorry to report that this is indeed the case, according to information published on the website run by the United Airlines Master Executive Council (MEC) of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), the union representing United's flight attendants.

News of the hiring freeze is contained in a letter to United's AFA membership from Greg Davidowitch, President of the United MEC. Dated March 18, 2008, the letter addresses plans by the carrier to downsize its fleet, and discusses the potential impact of this move on United's flight attendants. Quoting from Mr. Dawidowitch's letter:

Undoubtedly, there will be an impact on our flying as a result of potential staffing decisions and which markets United may cut as a result of the downsizing of the fleet. At this time we can confirm that based upon our discussions with management there are no plans for a furlough as a result of today's announcement. United will implement a hiring freeze for the newest Members of our Flight Attendant community for classes that were originally scheduled to begin after March 31, 2008. There are no plans to release Flight Attendants who are currently in new hire training and we look forward to welcoming our newest flying partners on the line.
I trust that Mr. Dawidowitch is in a position to know what he is talking about, so there you have it. Click here to read the letter in its entirety.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

United Airlines flight attendants get profit sharing distribution

United AirlinesThis week, flight attendants at United Airlines flight are receiving profit-sharing payments related to the airline's 2007 performance. United's US-based flight attendants can expect to receive a profit-sharing payment of about $1,200, before withholdings, for every $30,000 of eligible earnings, according to a news release issued by the airline.

This is the second year United provided profit sharing to its employees and the benefit is part of their union contracts. Under the terms of their union's contract, which was negotiated during the airline's bankruptcy, United's flight attendants receive their profit-sharing award in the form of a company contribution to their 401(k) accounts.

United Airlines flight attendants are represented by the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA).

By the way, United is continuing to recruit new flight attendants. Click here for more information on becoming a United Airlines flight attendant, and an online application.

[Illustration Source]

Monday, February 11, 2008

Delta flight attendants seek union representation

Delta Airlines logoThis week, flight attendants at Delta Airlines will formally act to seek union representation. On February 14, the flight attendants will file signed cards to this effect. If a sufficient number of signed cards are collected and verified by the U.S. National Mediation Board (NMB), an election will be called to officially determine union representation. The NMB is responsible for overseeing union representation elections in the U.S. airline industry.

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, known as "AFA," has been working for some time with Delta flight attendants who favor union representation. A media release issued last week by AFA states that "a solid majority of Delta flight attendants have signed cards and eagerly await an election."

Up to now, Delta flight attendants have not been unionized. Although there has been growing dissatisfaction with pay and work rules among the rank and file, it seems that the tipping point came as Delta began engaging in merger talks with other carriers. Now a growing number of Delta's flight attendants are acknowledging the potential value of representation by a formal collective bargaining unit such as the AFA.

The AFA has opened a website -- Delta AFA -- to support the campaign by Delta flight attendants for unionization. There is a copy of the authorization card for union representation on the website, as well as a wealth of information about AFA, and about the legal rights of flight attendants in regard to collective bargaining and unionization. In addition, the website features a page with comments by individual Delta flight attendants telling why they want AFA -- definitely an interesting read!

According to reports in the news media, Northwest Airlines currently is considered to be the most likely merger partner for Delta, however officials at United Airlines also have discussed a potential merger with Delta. Flight attendants at both Northwest and United already are represented by AFA.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Northwest Flight Attendants' Merger Concerns

AFA-CWA logoAmid media reports that Northwest Airlines is in merger talks with Delta Airlines, Northwest's flight attendants have publicized a list of conditions they say must be met in order for them to approve and support the merger of Northwest with another carrier.

In a press release issued earlier this week, the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), the union representing Northwest's flight attendants, notes that "a merger agreement that addresses the needs of front line employees will help to ensure a quality product and service that meets the needs of our customers." The union has set forth eight conditions that they wish to have included in any merger agreement:

  • Job protections for Northwest flight attendants.
  • Seniority integration of the two flight attendant groups should be given the full protection of the AFA-CWA Constitution and Bylaws and the law, as applicable.
  • Allegheny- Mohawk Labor Protective Provisions that cover displaced workers and other matters not directly related to seniority.
  • Stock, or other equity in the merged company no less favorable than that granted to any other employee group, including management.
  • A labor agreement that provides substantial improvements in compensation and work rules to the current flight attendant agreement.
  • A route structure that has a sufficient network and market strength to allow for growth and profitability.
  • Inclusion in discussions on the effects of a proposed merger prior to the finalization of any transaction.
  • Maintaining a strong hub presence in the Twin Cities and continue to plan for future growth, securing our position as one of the largest employers in Minnesota.
The union also cautions that for a merger to be accepted, it must include "transparent and open communications" between the airline's management and its employees on the status of merger developments, and discussions regarding the issues of concern to employees.

Monday, November 5, 2007

US Airways No. 1 F/A celebrates 50 years service

US Airways No. 1 Flight Attendant Bette NashYesterday was a special day for the Number One flight attendant at US Airways: Bette Nash celebrated 50 years of service. Ms. Nash began her flight attendant career on November 4, 1957.

Here is an excerpt from a news release issued by the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) about Ms. Nash and her golden anniversary:

"Bette Nash is a walking, talking history of the evolution of our industry, and we are so fortunate to benefit from her experience each day," said Alin Boswell, fellow US Airways flight attendant and Washington, DC Local Council President for the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA). "Not only is she a great flight attendant and mentor, but she is a wonderful person who brings much joy to everyone she encounters."

Ms. Nash began her career the same year Sputnik was launched, and when air travel was an expensive luxury full of amenities. As air travel evolved into what it is today, so has the role of flight attendant. Fifty years ago, flight attendants were forced out of their job after a few short years and the average career span was less than 18 months.

In 1964, seven years after Ms. Nash began her career, the Civil Rights Act passed and with the strength and determine of AFA-CWA, for the first time flight attendants were able to challenge the discriminatory policies based on gender, age, race, weight, marital status, and pregnancy that had become commonplace in the airline industry.

"Bette's accomplishment today is the fully realized goal that AFA-CWA set out to achieve over sixty years ago," said Patricia Friend, AFA-CWA International President. "When AFA-CWA began representing flight attendants in 1945, it was the goal of our founders to turn this 'job' into a full-blown career - a career that would provide for, and support flight attendants and their families. It is a humbling moment to reflect upon Bette Nash's accomplishment and realize how far we have come as a profession. AFA-CWA congratulates and thanks Bette for her years of devoted service. We look forward to celebrating many more milestones with her in the future."
Congratulations to Bette Nash!

[Photo Source]

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Mesa F/As unhappy with airline's China plans

Mesa Air Group logoFlight attendants at Mesa Airlines are skeptical about management's commitment to improving the quality of life of their employees. So says the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), the union representing Mesa's cabin crew.

Mesa flight attendants, among the lowest paid in the industry, have been in negotiations for over a year regarding pay increases and quality of life adjustments, among other issues. The Mesa flight attendants became more demoralized recently when the airline's management announced plans to partner with Shenzhen Airlines to form a new carrier in China.

Brian Manning, president of the Mesa AFA said, "At this time, when we have so many serious issues to address, we need to know that management is committed to our negotiations and not distracted by their legal issues. Management thinks that we should sit across the table and accept a cost-neutral agreement, yet in the meantime they are sending tens of millions of dollars over to China to start a new airline. This investment in a new airline was made possible by the hard work of flight attendants and other employees."

AFA contends that the money being used to expand the airline's business overseas has come from employees' pockets, in the form of wage concessions -- concessions the company claimed it needed to stay afloat.

Brian Manning said, "Management insists that there be no improvements in the flight attendant contract because improvements cost money. For years they have insisted that their employees take concessions as if the company is failing. But then they announce that they have formed a $65 million airline in China. The money that Mesa management has used to expand their airline, in ways that are not beneficial to flight attendants, comes from the pockets of their employees. It is time that this shameful practice stops."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

UAL forms passenger incident review committee

United Airline logoUnited Airlines is creating an internal committee to review incidents in which passengers are physically abusive toward employees. According to an article in the Denver Post, United's new "passenger incident review committee" formalizes the process of investigating incidents in which passengers are physically abusive or threaten physical harm of United employees and are an "ongoing safety risk."

The process involves determining how the company responds to the passenger - such as limiting future travel on United - and legal and emotional support for the affected employee. It also includes a system of tracking the incidents.

The Association of Flight Attendants pressed United to start the program. Flight attendants are the most likely to receive abuse from passengers, as they spend the most time with each customer and do not have access to authorities in flight.

"We have seen an increase in these incidents throughout the industry," said Sara Nelson, a spokeswoman for the Association of Flight Attendants at United. "The biggest frustration is delays and cancellations, and that has the added problem of people sitting at airports and going to a bar and drinking alcohol. Alcohol is a leading cause of air-rage incidents."

More passengers with fewer airline employees tending to passengers, the frustrations of traveling, fewer amenities and packed planes also increase "the opportunity for passengers to show their unreasonable side," Nelson said.
AFA also would like flight attendants to be provided with additional training on how to de-escalate conflicts. Sounds like a very good idea to me.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Score one for Northwest flight attendants

Northwest Airlines logoFlight attendants at Northwest Airlines have formally objected to the payment of 'enhanced fees' to several consultants and legal firms that represented the airline during its bankruptcy restructuring. The flight attendants, represented by their union, were joined by the U.S. Trustee and representatives of Northwest's bondholders in formally objecting to the payment of additional fees to four firms. Judge Alan Gropper of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York agreed with them, at least in part, by denying two of the fee applications. The hearing on two others has been delayed.

Northwest flight attendants are represented by the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA). A news release on the AFA website about this most recent court action says:

The four firms, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP; Otterbourg, Steindler, Houston & Rosen, P.C.; FTI Consulting, Inc; and Lazard Freres & Co. have already received tens of millions in fees. The cost of their professional services soaked up a significant portion of the lost wages and benefits for all Northwest employees. Flight attendants alone are working under 40 percent wage and benefit reductions.

The Court recognized that it was the sacrifice of the employees and other factors -- not just the work of these firms -- that helped turn Northwest around. The Court denied the applications from Cadwalader and Otterbourg. The other firms' applications will be heard at a later date.

In so ruling, the Court noted the importance that the process be perceived as a fair one, clearly concerned that these outrageous fees would have diminished the fairness of the entire process.
Commenting on the flight attendants' position in this matter, Kevin Griffin, president of the Northwest MEC of AFA said, "If AFA-CWA had not objected today, more millions of dollars of our concessions would have been wasted on these outrageous fees. Management did not object to these fees, so the money is clearly available. Since they will not have to pay these ridiculous bonuses, we think it is far better spent on returning some of the pay and workrules the Northwest flight attendants have sacrificed."

Thursday, August 30, 2007

AFA petitions to unionize Compass Airlines F/As

Compass Airlines logoThe Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), the world's largest flight attendant union, recently filed a petition with the National Mediation Board (NMB) to hold a representational election on behalf of Compass Airlines flight attendants. If the NMB verifies that a sufficient number of union representation cards signed by Compass flight attendants have been collected by AFA, a secret ballot election to vote on union representation will be called.

Compass Airlines, is a subsidiary of Northwest Airlines. The new regional carrier began service earlier this year, operating as Northwest Airlink. By the end of 2007, the airline expects to employ over 300 people and to operate a fleet of 10 aircraft from its Minneapolis, Detroit and Memphis hubs.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Northwest flight attendants say Steenland must go

Flight attendants at Northwest Airlines are calling for the resignation of the airline's President and CEO, Douglas Steenland. Late last week the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) released a statement to the press declaring that "severe staffing shortages, record flight cancellations, low employee morale and outraged customers are the direct result of poor management by Steenland."

How low is moral among Northwest flight attendants? AFA reports that a poll of Northwest flight attendants, conducted by the Wilson Center for Public Research, revealed that 89% of respondents describe their view of NWA management as "mostly negative" or "very negative."

"Northwest flight attendants sacrificed 40 percent in pay, work rules and benefits cuts and are 20 percent more productive, all in an effort to ensure the survival of Northwest Airlines," said [Northwest AFA MEC President Kevin] Griffin. "In return for our investment, Mr. Steenland pocketed a lucrative compensation package and has mismanaged our airline. It's insulting to flight attendants that he remains employed."
Mr. Griffin sent a letter to the Northwest Board of Directors on behalf of the 8,000 flight attendants he represents, expressing their lack of confidence in the airline's management. Accompanying that letter was a formal resolution calling for Steenland's resignation.

[Photo Source]

Monday, July 2, 2007

FMLA protection for flight attendants

Recently, a bill that would allow flight attendants to provide care for ailing family members without risking their jobs was introduced in Congress. The proposed legislation ( H.R. 2744) is known as the Airline Flight Crew Family and Medical Leave Act, and is sponsored by Congressman Tim Bishop (D-NY).

According to the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), the original Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which was passed into U.S. law in 1993, has excluded many airline workers from the FMLA protections enjoyed by every other full time working person in the United States by failing to take into consideration the unique nature of airline workers’ hours. The new legislation amends the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) so that flight crew members who have been paid for or completed 60% of their company's monthly hour or trip guarantee, annualized over a 12-month period, will be eligible for FMLA benefits.

The AFA is asking its members to voice their support for this important new legislation to their representatives in Congress. The union has set up a web page where you can fill in a form to send a message to your representative. Click here for more information and to voice your support for the Airline Flight Crew Family and Medical Leave Act.