As temporary officers our primary objectives have been to:
- conduct a membership drive in order to begin officer elections as soon as possible
- get our new grievance process in place and resolve outstanding grievances as much as possible
- initiate a negotiations survey to determine what direction to take in contract negotiations, and what actions, if any, would be time sensitive and necessary even before local elections could be concluded
The initial negotiations survey made it clear the entire group wanted us to approach the company to negotiate a cross-over agreement. As we discussed this directly with many of you timing was a concern, both in consideration of aircraft schedule changes and in consideration of the new hires joining the Continental seniority list October 20th.
We reviewed the 2008 cross-over agreement before approaching the company and included a list of improvements that we also wanted to achieve in addition to that agreement. Our primary goal was to create an agreement that would provide an option for as many people as possible, and critically, to provide a means for Flight Attendants on the indefinite leave from 2008 the ability to return to work.
If we could not achieve an agreement that would allow for maintaining CMI seniority at CAL during this Bridge Agreement, then it would be critical to get the option in place prior to new hire Flight Attendants joining the line. Achieving an agreement with full CMI seniority during the transition to a single contract, which would be ratified by the combined work group, would have most likely required approval by the entire Continental membership and we would not know the results of such a vote until after the time scheduled for new hires to join the CAL seniority list.
We absolutely sought a greater cash payment as an incentive for Flight Attendants in Guam to bid for these one-time transfers to Houston and Newark. What is different from 2008 is that management is looking at a short-term obligation for paying to support the surplus in Guam. Their view is that they come out ahead by not offering a substantial cash incentive, but rather the $2500 to help defray the moving costs.
The offer that was rejected by our counterparts at the UAL MEC Council was what the company started with, and we fine-tuned where we could within the time parameters we faced. We recognized quickly through the discussions with the company that this offer was not going to be acceptable to the vast majority of our group – but it would be a way to provide much needed relief for our family members who desperately need to get back to work and an option for Guam-based Flight Attendants who want the ability to get to Houston or Newark sooner than later. We were able to make improvements, including:
- Removing the requirement for a probationary period
- Preserving CMI service credit for all pay and benefits
- Cross-over training of only a few days
- All of the benefits under the Continental contract, including the provision for 401k contributions
Your Feedback and Direction
This offer is not going to be acceptable to the vast majority of our group. Most members have stated to us that they want to stay home, here on Guam.
We felt that we received very clear direction from the whole group – get the best deal we could as soon as possible and make sure the priority was getting our friends who are out of work the option to return. When they made the decision to go on the indefinite leave in 2008, circumstances were very different. Unlike our United counterparts who have a contractual definitive return date and the ability to return through a hardship request, our friends from Guam have no other option. And, waiting to put something in place could have cost them 400 plus places on the seniority list at Continental if we did not have something in place by the 17th of October. That would have defeated the entire point, and we would have had nothing to show for the loss of the opportunity other than our stubbornness. Who benefits from that? Kathleen, Victor and I had to take your feedback and consider who this agreement was really for – the three of us agreed that this was about those that took the Opt-out, and want to come back to making a Flight Attendant’s wage.
How is this Different from 2008?
We need to remember what the conditions were back in 2008 when we had the cross-over opportunity presented to us:
- Rumors had come and gone about a merger with United,
- CMI management and employee groups still had no idea if we would be involved or included in a merger of that sorts,
- There was no plan in sight to merge the operations.
- we had just been notified that we were losing the NGO-HNL route, and
- we were given a heads-up about a looming over-staffing situation.
Management sought assistance with the excessive cost associated with the 2008 over-staffing and reached out to us – they had an incentive to reach a deal and we used this to fight hard for the best deal possible. It was presented for individuals to decide if it would work for them. Long story short, some members transferred, some accepted the ‘Opt-out’ terms, many of us stayed.
Fast-forward to 2011; we know that the Guam operation will be included in the operational merger. The AFA Merger Policy ensures that when the operation merges following a ratified single contract – we have our CMI date of hire into class and craft for bidding, pay and other purposes, as well as many other things that many of us believed would have been pie-in-the-sky pipe dreams. Management is not just looking at what is currently happening in Guam, but instead how we will be a part of the overall merger – knowing staffing issues will be resolved with the operational merger.
We had to make a tough choice. We believe that we made the right one.
We would be happy to discuss this further in person and we are looking at setting up some local meetings to get together soon. We’ll post that information as soon as we can schedule them.