E-Lines: October 18, 2019
October 18, 2019
Fall Regular Meeting of the United MEC
October 22 – 23, 2019 in Chicago
The Fall Regular Meeting of the United Master Executive Council (MEC) will take place October 22 – 23, 2019 at the Hyatt Rosemont Hotel, in Rosemont, IL. Your Local Council President, joined by the 15 other Local Council Presidents from around our system, will address the business of our Union and the issues that are important to you. Visit unitedafa.org to review the Fall Meeting Agenda.
We encourage Members to witness our democratic process in action by attending your Local Council fall meetings. Meetings scheduled dates and times will be posted on our website as they become available.
One-Month and Three-Month Special COLAs Available with December Bid Month
Inflight Scheduling has determined that there will be an opportunity to award one month and six-month Special COLAs (Company Offered Leave of Absence) effective for the December 2019 schedule month. The number of Special COLAs to be awarded has not yet been determined. Once awarded, Special COLAs cannot be rescinded.
Timeline for Bidding and Awards of December 2019 Special COLAs
Thursday, November 7, 2019 - 0800 CT
Prior to November 12, 2019
If you are interested in both the one and three-month Special COLA, please indicate your first and second preference of the duration you prefer. The one month and three-month Special COLAs will be awarded at the same time.
For further details regarding this Special COLA, please refer to the "December 2019 One Month Special COLA Program Information" and "December 2019 Three Month Special COLA Program Information" documents found on Flying Together > Inflight Services > Crew Scheduling.
Additionally, please review Sections 15.C. and 15.N. of our Contract for further details associated with a Special COLA. This Special COLA will include medical benefits at active employee rates. Pay and vacation longevity are not impacted for step increases.
Flight Attendants interested in this Special COLA should submit their bid via CCS under the "Leaves" drop down menu select - Special COLA. For more information on how to apply for a Special COLA in CCS, please review Special COLA Overview section (starting on page 42) in the "COLA, Jobshare and Multiple Month Partnership Overview" located on Flying Together > Inflight Services > Crew Scheduling.
Flight Attendants awarded the December one month and three-Month Special COLAs will be required to complete any overlapping assignments into the December bid month. Please refer to Section 15.C.2 (paragraph 15.B.5) of our Contract. If you do not wish to fly an overlapping trip you may adjust your schedule through the normal process.
Annual Benefits Open Enrollment - through October 25, 2019
Open Enrollment began October 7 and will close on October 25, 2019. Flight Attendants can enroll online though the benefits link on Flying Together or via phone by calling the Benefits Service Center at 1-800-651-1007 from 7am-7pm CT, Monday- Friday.
Additional information is available in the 2020 Benefits Guide and includes details about enrollment options, new vision plans and new voluntary benefits, info about what happens if you do not enroll, and much more.
Questions can be directed to your Local Council Representatives.
Healthy Rewards PPO and Changes to HRA Account
Beginning on January 1, 2020, participants in the Health Rewards PPO, will have a $4,800 cap on the amount that can be accumulated in the Healthy Rewards HRA.
HRA balances at or above $4,800 will not be forfeited as of January 1, 2010 but you will also not be eligible to earn wellness credit (dollars) from the company for the 2020 benefit year. Those having a Healthy Rewards HRA balance above $3,200, ($4,000 for individual coverage) will be ineligible to receive the 2020 full incentive amount.
Keep in mind, Healthy Rewards HRA dollars can only be used in conjunction with the Healthy Rewards PPO and the HRA is not “portable” to any other medical plan nor can any balance be carried into a personal account upon retirement. We encourage those of you who may be considering this plan to consider the cap on contributions and the requirement to be part of the Healthy Rewards program in order to use accumulated HRA dollars before making your plan selections for the upcoming benefit year.
As an additional consideration, during annual enrollment you may make an election as to whether you spend either Flexible Spending (FSA) dollars or Healthy Rewards HRA dollars first for prescription drugs and medical care. Keep in mind that FSA dollars must be spent during the eligible period for the plan year. For this reason, spending FSA dollars first is the default. You might want to consider your needs for the year in conjunction with those medical/dental/vision expenses that are not eligible to be reimbursed from the HRA. For example, if you were to elect to spend HRA dollars first for medical and prescription drugs, you would then be able to use FSA dollars for non-medical and non-prescription drugs expenses. It is important to note that this is a one-time election made only during annual benefits open enrollment that cannot be change during the plan year.
This year, two former vision plans, Superior Vision and the standard VSP Plans, will not be offered. If you are currently enrolled in either the Superior Vision Plan or the standard VSP Plan, unless you elect the VSP Plus Plan, the plan is set to default to the new UHC Vision Care Plan at open enrollment. The new UHC plan does not have the same level of benefit as the VSP Plus plan, however the premiums are lower.
The VSP Plus Plan will continue with the same benefits as before with upgrades that allow for one of five personalized upgrades when getting glasses or contact lenses.
Benefits Training Concludes in Chicago
This week, volunteers from Local Councils across the system successfully completed two classes conducted over four days of intensive training conducted by the MEC Benefits Committee. The first two days of training provided an overview of our negotiated benefits including Health Care Plans (medical, dental & vision plans) Company provided Life Insurance, Group Universal Life Insurance, Long Term Disability, Defined Contribution Plans (401(k)), and Defined Benefit Plans (CARP & IAM-NPP). The final two days of the four-day training event was an overview of our Occupational Benefits. Dedicated volunteers from CLE, DCA, EWR, FRA, GUM, HNL, IAH, LAS, LAX, LHR, NRT, ORD and SFO will put their training to work supporting not only the leadership the Local Councils but also the Membership.
Knowledge is power especially when it is shared.
We would like to extend our appreciation to the Flight Attendants who volunteered their time to improve their understanding of our Contractual Benefits as well as for their dedication to our Members and our Union.
Contract Changes Affect Line Construction
Since October 2018 when the Flight Attendant operation was merged and the development of Flight Attendant schedules became a single process, there have been a number of questions from various locations about the principles used in submitting recommendations for Flight Attendant schedules.
While some of the tools used to build schedules at each of the pre-merger airlines were similar, there were also a number of differences that were driven by Contract provisions. Over the course of the past twelve months, the provisions of our Contract have governed line construction based on company established parameters that guide Local Schedule Committees in producing what ultimately becomes the schedules Flight Attendants bid and fly.
Of the most significant contractual changes governing how schedules are put together are the utilization parameters established by management upon which schedule recommendations have their foundation. These provisions are predicated on the language in Section 30.L.2. of our Contract. This language provides the following:
If the manner in which the monthly flying schedules are made up does not require an increase in the number of Flight Attendants at the domicile, lower the utilization of Flight Attendants or unreasonably worsen the working conditions of the junior Flight Attendants, the monthly schedules may be constructed to allow a choice of working conditions for Flight Attendant preferencing.
Over the decades, the practice on the property through arbitral precedent has been the development of anonymous lines of flying that are bid upon by all Flight Attendants at each domicile location. These schedules are constructed to comply with the utilization targets set by the company. These targets are expressed specifically. That is, Local Schedule Committees are told to build a specific number of lines, all of which must be legal (days off, line values above 71 hours, observing 1 in 7, etc.) the result being the distribution of the total hours at the location across the Flight Attendant population.
At domiciles with ultra-long haul flying where trips have very high values and line averages are set by the company to be low, Local Schedule Committees are faced with the reality that they cannot build those lines in the same way they would if line averages were high. Local Schedule Committee Members are required to build the number of lines determined by the company. Those lines must all be legal having a minimum of ten days off and values above 71 hours – the minimum line value.
When line values are high, it is ultimately easier to build lines of flying that contain all the same pairings. However, when line values decrease, the hours must be spread out over more Flight Attendants. When trip values are high, it is difficult, if not impossible, to spread those hours out over more Flight Attendants unless pairings having different values are used to build the schedules that meet the company’s utilization target. For example, when the company sets the utilization at 73 hours and you are building schedules with a 30-hour pairing, three of the pairings creates a 90-hour line, while two creates a 60-hour line. In order to hit the lower utilization target, you will most likely be required to add a lower value pairing to the 60-hour line to bring the value above 71 hours.
It must be stressed that while Local Schedule Committees do an admirable job when building monthly schedules, they are constrained by the requirements of the contract. That is, they may not increase the need for Flight Attendants, lower the utilization or unreasonablly worsen the working conditions for more junior Flight Attendants. If, in making their recommendations any of these items result, the recommendations must be changed to satisfy the company’s targets established under the Contract. This work is difficult and challenging for the Local Schedule Committee volunteers but is work that is required under our Contract.
And while Local Schedule Committees strive to meet the desires of the Membership at the location, often the utilization targets established by the company place constraints on how schedules can be built. Given that our airline has adopted a far more “seasonable” view of aviation, the hours available to build schedules expand and contract. During the summer when our airline is doing a large amount of flying to seasonal destinations, schedule development is different from that which occurs when the company reduces or discontinues flying to certain destinations. At these times, the company offers time away from work to those who are willing and able to do so. If people aren’t able to take time away from work, schedules for all Flight Attendants not on leave must be built and made available for bid consistent with the terms of our Contract.
Revision #30 Effective Date - November 1, 2019
Revision #30 is now available with an effective date of November 1, 2019. Flight Attendants are encouraged to ensure they sync the following documents:
Note: If the Foundation Package is also available, ensure you download and sync as well.
Calling On & Calling Off Sick Leave
As we enter the cold and flu season, we encourage everyone to consider taking advantage of our negotiated health care benefits which includes preventative medication such as flu shots. Given the diversity of the passengers we carry on our aircraft and that they come from all corners of the world, the various types of flu strains, despite our best preventative measures, can prove challenging to our well-being. With cold and flu season around the corner, we encourage everyone to take care of themselves. Hand washing is among the strongest of preventative measures you can take while in the work environment. In the event the preventive measures don’t protect you fully, it’s possible you may become ill. When that happens and you are too sick to come to work, you should act to protect yourself as well as your flying partners and customers. Flight Attendants must notify the company’s designated Crew Desk to place her/himself on sick leave. She/he will remain on sick leave status until she/he notifies the company that she/he is coming off sick leave.
There are two methods by which you may place yourself on sick leave:
1) A Flight Attendant may place her/himself on sick leave through the electronic system using the Sick Notification function in CCS which can be accessed from Scheduling > Sick Notification. You may send a notification placing yourself on sick leave through the electronic system prior to 0900 home domicile time (HDT) of the day prior to a scheduled assignment or Reserve availability day. Or,
2) After 0900 HDT of the calendar day prior to an eligible assignment, Flight Attendants at all bases must call the Flight Attendant Support Team (FAST) directly to place themselves on sick leave.
Always provide as much notice as possible but at least 8:00 hours prior to scheduled departure time, except in an emergency.
Once you have called to place yourself on sick leave, you will remain on sick leave status until you are ready to return to work and you must call to place yourself off sick leave. Call FLTLINE at 1-800-FLT-LINE option 4 option 1 to call off sick leave and return to flight status. When calling off sick leave, you must notify the company (via FLTLINE) not less than eight (8) hours prior to departure.
Please review Sick Leave Procedures and Releasing Sick List Trips on our website at www.unitedafa.org or contact your Local Council Office for more information.
Bonus Bucks Registration Extended to October 23, 2019
Flight Attendants should recently have completed company required Computer Based Training (CBT). As a part of one of the training modules, Flight Attendants were to register on the “Bonus Bucks Portal”. Apparently, it was not clearly presented that Flight Attendants were required to register to obtain a Bonus Bucks Identification number.
On October 9, 2019 United Airlines released a clarification on the two-step registration process. Because of the confusion about the two-step registration process, Management has extended the required due date to register for Bonus Bucks until October 23, 2019.
First time visitors to the United Bonus Bucks portal may sign up with their United Airlines email. Once the sign up is completed a confirmation email will be sent to the Flight Attendants company webmail account. The Flight Attendant needs to click on the confirmation link and will be redirected to complete the enrollment process. Only after clicking the link and being redirected will the second step be complete.
To learn more visit Flying Together "Bonus Bucks Portal". Please email any technical issues to email@example.com.
Human Trafficking Vigilance as Football Season Kicks Off
As Flight Attendants, we are uniquely positioned to potentially identify human traffickers and assist their victims. We are skilled observers, and with the appropriate training, we can be the frontline against the horrific crime of trafficking. It is estimated that at least 12.3 million adults and children are enslaved around the world and that 56% of these are women and young girls. Mega events such as professional sports and NFL football games are a magnet for human traffickers.
Knowledge is power. When we know the signs to be aware of, we can make an informed decision and help prevent tragedy. Some indicators of human trafficking include:
- Physical control of travel documents of an adult traveler by a co-traveler
- Restricting the movement and social interaction of an adult traveler by a co-traveler
- An adult traveler who is unclear on details of his/her final destination or point of contact
- A child traveler who appears to be accompanied by someone claiming to be the parent or guardian who is in fact not related to the child.
If something seems suspicious and you believe you may be witnessing signs of human trafficking, do not act independently. Instead, follow United’s reporting policy and procedures as outlined in your Link, including using cockpit communications or other methods as part of the Blue Lightning Initiative.
- Report the details to the Captain
- Ensure the term “suspected human trafficking is used when reporting to captain.
- Review appropriate Threat Level 1 Flight Attendant guide lines and actions to take when taxiing/inflight or at the gate.
If you suspect Human Trafficking outside of the workplace, reference the information below on how to report the instance:
Report Human Trafficking:
- Call toll-free (866) 347-2423 from anywhere in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada
- Call (802) 872-6199 (not toll-free) from any country in the world.
- Report the tip online at www.ice.gov/tips.
To learn more about the work to end human trafficking.
Airline Ambassadors International
AFA-CWA Stop Human Trafficking
Together we can help put a stop to Human Trafficking.
United Projects Higher Full Year Profit Sharing Payments
On the heels of Tuesday’s third quarter financial performance announcement, the company has published information indicating an expectation of 25 – 30% higher contractual profit sharing payment than last year. Details regarding last year’s 2018 profit sharing payout can be reviewed on unitedafa.org.
STRIKE ALERT: Chicago Public School Teachers and Workers are on strike!
The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), SEIU Local 73 school support staff and Park District workers went on strike today to improve student learning conditions including classroom size, access to nurses as counselors, and wraparound services for vulnerable students.
35,000 public employees in Chicago walked off the job at the same time. The CTU represents 25,000 teachers employed by one of the country’s largest school systems. Another 7,000 Chicago Public School workers represented by SEIU Local 73 — security guards, bus aides, special education classroom assistants and custodians — and about 2,500 employees of the Chicago Park District joined picket lines together.
Show our support for CPS teachers and staff as we fight for more resources and support for our students:
- Call Chicago Mayor Lightfoot 312-744-3300
- Plan to join an upcoming picket line or Solidarity Event near you.
- The United Master Executive Council plans to join these dedicated workers on the picket line on Tuesday morning, October 22, 2019. We will have more information available on our website at www.unitedafa.org early next week.
Watch this video to understand what they're fighting for >
Reminders & Quick Links
October 22 Vacation Allocations Available in CCS
October Breast Cancer Awareness Month
October 7-25 Annual Benefits Open Enrollment for Active Employees
October 16. CQ Re-Bid Awards
October 22-23 Fall 2019 Regular Meeting of the United Master Executive Council
October 23 First Round Vacation Bid Opens 0800HDT
October 23 Bonus Bucks Registration Deadline
October 31 Halloween
November 1 Revision 30 Effective Date