JNC Update – Nov. 15, 2013

Yesterday the combined MECs of all three subsidiaries concluded a special joint meeting in Chicago.  The meeting was convened so the JNC could brief our AFA leaders on the current state of negotiations with management.

We began the meeting with a brief overview of United Airlines’ economics as has been reported in the business press.  United reported disappointing 3rd quarter financials, and Wall Street continues to downgrade our stock.  Analysts are still asking where the previously promised synergies and efficiencies are, and why United continues to lag the rest of the industry.

We also brought the MECs up to date regarding the negotiations “landscape” for all employees at United.

  • The pilots ratified a combined agreement in December 2012 after two years of talks, and completed the process of combining their seniority lists this past September.  ALPA continues to experience a growing number of issues with management as they implement their new Contract
  • Employees represented by the IAM reached a tentative agreement with management this past February after four years of bargaining, but it failed to ratify in March.  A second agreement was ratified a few weeks ago at the end of October.
  • Negotiations for a combined Contract to cover all mechanics/technicians at the new United collapsed last week in Chicago.  Management has now applied to the National Mediation Board for mediation.
  • PAFCA and the TWU represent the dispatchers at United and Continental.  Both unions have been trying to achieve a joint Contract since 2011.  Those negotiations broke off in September without an agreement.

It is against this backdrop that we then reviewed where we find our negotiations.

We spent a number of hours going over each of the AFA proposals which are currently on the table with management, and explained why after actively discussing 20 separate proposals we have only been able to achieve tentative agreements on 3 subjects.

  • Management continues to insist they do not want a “book full of rules.”  “book full of rules”
  • Management “will not accept an agreement that speaks to details”.  The “Contract should simply state what is to be provided, and it’s management’s right to manage”
  • Management considers our proposals to be “extreme”
  • Management refuses to schedule more than 1 week a month for negotiations
  • Management has stated that unless we agree to their “interest based bargaining” framework, this is how negotiations will continue.
  • AFA continues to put forward proposals which are based on what Flight Attendants have, through call for proposals, surveys and direct interactions with your leadership, identified as important to them, their families and their work lives.

In addition to this review, the JNC presented new proposals on Charter Operations, Moving Expenses, Meetings & Trainings and the Savings Clause.  All of these proposals were approved.  We also walked the MECs through our progress on the subjects that are still in proposal development.

The MECs spent all day yesterday discussing and debating what our strategies should be as we enter our second year of negotiations with respect to our work at the table, and the MECs desire to improve and maintain membership engagement.  Flight Attendants know they can always provide feedback to the JNC and your leadership by stopping by the AFA Offices or tables at bases and domiciles, or through any of the ONE program volunteers across the system – and we encourage that.  At the same time the JNC and the joint MECs are working on new methods to solicit direct input from Flight Attendants across the system.  We plan to announce details in the new year.

Some of you may have expected us to present a larger number of new proposals to the MECs at this meeting.  That would have been our preference, but we ask that you understand our proposal development is being done at the same time we are working on active proposals and counter proposals at the negotiations table.

The Joint MEC meeting that took place in Chicago this week was very important in that it was another opportunity for the AFA leaders to continue working with the JNC, but perhaps even more importantly it was another opportunity for all of our AFA leaders, from every subsidiary, to work with each other as all of us move toward successfully completing these critical negotiations.

In Solidarity,

Cindy Commander, CAL
Greg Davidowitch, UAL
Kathleen Domondon, CMI
Joey Guider, CAL
Suzanne Hendricks, CMI
Cynthia Iverson, CMI
Jack Kande, UAL
Kevin Lum, UAL
Marcus Valentino, CAL