March: In Like A Lion, Out Like A…?

Hafa Adai Flyers!

The month of March is roaring in like a lion, will it go out like a lamb?  We’ll see!
As you know, our sisters and brothers at United have just signed a new agreement providing improvements in pay and working conditions.  88.5% of the eligible voters participated; 70.4% voted yes.  The ratification of this four year contract is the first step in setting the three cornerstones necessary to reach an industry leading, joint agreement.  The second step begins Monday, March 5th,  as Continental flight attendants sit down to begin negotiating their next agreement.

Our contract became amendable in December 2010.  Kathleen and I have spent this last week working with CAL leadership and AFA Negotiators as we prepare for our talks.  We notified Management that we are ready to begin – a date to do so will be announced shortly.  We have made it clear that we are not looking to re-write our entire contract at this time.   But, we do need to work on a limited number of issues and improvements.

These individual negotiations with Continental and with Air Mike should, in no way, slow down or derail our efforts to get a single contract for the merged mega-carrier.   We must, however, be realistic and realize that getting that Big Book could take time – perhaps a long time.  There are many huge differences between UALs new contract, and the working conditions we have always treasured at CAL and CMI.  It is vital that we achieve a few enhancements and protections in the interim.

Vacation Arbitration: Our attorney, Scott Goodman, has informed us that he is prepared to go to arbitration on this issue.   This is the grievance, filed in 2007, regarding the way we are paid for our seven days of “bought” vacation.  Our contract has only has ONE definition of how vacation days are compensated:  “3 hours per day OR the total value of the scheduled time…whichever is greater.”  This definition was upheld in a 2002 arbitration when we were fighting for the ability to fly-through.  Nonetheless, since the 2005 contract was signed, the Company has only paid the flat rate of 3 hours per day for the “bought” vacation.

New Jumpseat rules and availablity:  We can now list for jumpseats on all three carriers.  And we may wear denim as long as it is neat – as in, not “stylishly” holed.  The priorities for boarding have been set:  We will go first on our aircraft, second on CAL planes, and third on UAL metal.  I have already lodged a protest on this final group, believing that we should have equal priority with CAL on UAL flights.

Reciprocal Cabin Seat Agreements have been established for Current Flight Attendants (CFA) holding a valid crew badge.  This is only for CFAs, no spouses or LOAs etc.  Your crew badge at the gate will get you on the plane if there is space. Specific travel information will be updated on the Flying Together site as a limited number of cabin seats are now open to us on American, Frontier, Alaska, Delta, Horizon, Jet Blue, Air Tran, Air Wisconsin, Hawaiian, Southwest, Spirit, US Airways, and Virgin America.

Crossing over:  Today, UAL FAs began signing up for the seniority-less transfer to CAL.  Early indications are that there will be hundreds making this passage.   We hope that they will all be warmly welcomed, and quickly educated into the proud culture of Continental.  They have 30 days to make this decision, and ten more days to withdraw.

Contact points:  There should be no confusion about how to contact your elected union representatives!  This e-dress is the best.  Unlike the union box in the office, this site is usually opened several times a day:

Grievance forms, (found at: go immediately to us.  We also answer our phones!
As negotiations progress, Kathleen and I expect to be off island frequently.  Phil Rayphand has stepped forward to be a quick, on-island contact.

When we are off island use these numbers:
Suzanne – (808) 436-7932
Kathleen (808) 436-7931

Until next time, Fly Safely – and make it fun!