Joint Contract Negotiations Update – Dec 7, 2012

JNC Ready to Bargain

Dear Flying Partners:

When we met with United Airlines management for the first time on August 27, 2012, we were fulfilling the Contractual mandate that bargaining begin no later than that date.  Remember, this meeting came on the heels of newly ratified Contracts at all three airlines, which were purposely negotiated to provide protections and improvements while joint negotiations take place.

The Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) told United’s team that we obviously need to prepare for negotiations, and that we would be ready to begin bargaining on November 20th.  United found this date to be unworkable, and requested the first session take place on December 4th & 5th in Chicago.  In an effort to start negotiations on a good foot, we agreed to the company’s request.

As we’ve previously told you, since that August meeting, the JNC has been educating ourselves on all aspects of our respective Contracts, and developing proposals around issues you, the Members, have identified through surveys and calls for proposals.  We continue to do that.

After months of work, your JNC came to this first session with 15 proposals to present to United.  In the end we were only able to show them 3. Instead of beginning to bargain over issues important to Flight Attendants, United chose to spend the first day and a half bargaining over a Negotiations Protocol, which are basically the ground rules on how negotiations will be conducted. This is the same protocol which United’s negotiations website, reported back in August, would be agreed to in a “few weeks.”  This is the same protocol, which on the morning of December 4th, United said it had never seen.

  • We asked United to commit to meeting every month for two weeks.  Instead, United said they wanted a less rigid schedule based on whether they believe progress is being made.
  • We believe an informed Membership is important.  Instead, United proposed that discussions at the table should be considered confidential.
  • We are committed to discussing specific proposals based on your feedback.  Instead, United would prefer to talk about concepts and determine what the issues are.
  • We understand the issues you have brought to us are important.  Instead, United would like us to eliminate proposals they deem as “one-sided or non-serious.”
  • We all deserve a Contract, which clearly defines Compensation, Work Rules and Benefits.  Instead, United would prefer not to have a Contract “filled with rules.”
  • We recognize the value in taking the best provisions and practices from all of our Agreements.  Instead, United insists our new Contract will be a blank slate with no history or precedent.
  • We agree with United’s often stated principle that our airline will only be successful if they blend the best of each carrier.  Instead, United clearly doesn’t believe that applies to Contract negotiations.

United says it’s not interested in a negotiations where we put forward proposals.  They view that as old fashioned and unproductive. They want negotiations to proceed in a more conceptual format, similar to how they are conducting negotiations with the other work groups.  Considering it took ALPA two years to reach a tentative agreement, and so far they’re the only one, it begs the question, “so how’s that working for you?”

Talking about concepts is all well and good, but a Contract is not about concepts, it’s about details.  Your JNC is committed to taking your issues forward in these negotiations in the form of proposals that address every subject and section of each of our current Contracts, proposals that will be the basis of the negotiations, which will produce our successor Contract.

Were we disappointed in this week’s session?  In a word, yes.  However, this week served to solidify our commitment to unifying all of us under the world’s leading Flight Attendant Agreement.  United proposed that the next session be on January 14, 2013.  We will return to the negotiating table at that time in Los Angeles.  While we are committed to a positive working relationship with United when we reconvene, we are prepared to advance and defend your issues by whatever means necessary.

We will soon have many opportunities to meet you, to discuss Negotiations and the difference you can make through your support and involvement; we look forward to doing that in the new year.

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