Dear Flying Partners,
The news the we did not prevail in MEC 6-20, which argued that Flight Attendants not eligible to work in the United States should be offered a location where they can work, specifically the LHR base, is devastating.
Many of you have requested that we publish the written decision. Throughout our history, our policy has always been, in regards to favorable and unfavorable decisions, that we have not and do not make these public. We understand this may be frustrating, but our providing additional details could be harmful to the other pending grievance on this and other issues, impact on outside litigation and sets a precedent that could ultimately undermine our ability to be successful on future issues.
We have always stated this was a contractual dispute, specifically governing Section 17 of our Contract. Section 17 governs the filling of vacancies and ultimately the arbitrator determined that our language does not expressly require the company to create vacancies at an international base (LHR) for the affected Flight Attendants. The ruling from the arbitrator is as follows:
"Grievance MEC 6-20 is denied. For the reasons stated herein, the Company
did not violate the parties' 2016 Collective Bargaining Agreement based on
its intent to close the Frankfurt (FRA), Tokyo (NRT) and Hong Kong (HKG)
International Bases effective October 1, 2020 and not transfer Flight
Attendants who are not eligible to work in the United States to a location
where they can work, specifically the London (LHR) Base, pursuant to Section
17 of the Agreement."
Coming to this conclusion the arbitrator determined that Section 17 (17.C.2) does not expressly require the company to create vacancies at an International Base (LHR) for the affected Flight Attendants that cannot work in the United States without regard to the company's operational needs or financial considerations. Nor was there such reference in the Letter of Agreement number 22 - Recognition of International Issues, located in our contract.
The arbitrator determined the language in the contract is ambiguous and not clear, requiring her to then turn to the bargaining history and negotiations of the parties. Though the issue was discussed in negotiations, the examples the Union provided failed to sway the arbitrator that the company had proposed to relieve itself of the alleged contractual obligation to provide sufficient vacancies. Further, the arbitrator acknowledged the instances where the Union stated there was a past practice, however the testimony of the negotiators and exhibits presented, were insufficient to allow her to reach agreement with our position. The arbitrator felt there was a lack of evidence to support the company had previously created vacancies in the absence of available work and irrespective of their financial considerations.
We realize the profound impact of this decision and how it comes at a time of uncertainty in the world, which makes things even more difficult.