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E-Lines: September 25, 2020

Date: September 25, 2020

Arbitrator Renders Decision in MEC 6-20 – International Base Closures

We have received a verbal award in MEC 6-20. The Union did not prevail in this case. 

The Question at Issue was:

“Did the Company violate the Contract based on their intent to close the Frankfurt (FRA), Tokyo (NRT) and Hong Kong (HKG) International Bases effective October 1, 2020, and not transfer Flight Attendants that 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 Collective Bargaining Agreement.”

Read the Letter from the MEC Officers to the Members at FRA, HKG, and NRT.

Vacation Accrual Letters Available – Addressing Leave of Absence Reductions

As you may already have seen, Vacation Accrual Letters were made available yesterday in CCS. 

These Vacation Accrual Letters advise Flight Attendants of the following information:

  • Your vacation accrual seniority date as of August 29, 2020
  • Your 2021 base vacation accrual determined by your vacation accrual seniority date
  • Your paid activity, by each quarter in the 2019 - 2020 Vacation Accrual Year to be used in determining
  • Your vacation accrual for the 2021 Vacation year, which may be reduced by any Leaves of Absence
  • Your 2021 vacation accrual days and hours

Based on these letters, despite having met the flight time metric (120 hours) each quarter, some Members noticed that their vacation accrual had been reduced and, based on their prior experience with Special COLAs where this reduction was not applied, are questioning the reduction.

In April of this year, the Union wrote to management to identify contradictions in the information that was being disseminated regarding Special COLAs. In the Special COLA packets, the company was advising Flight Attendants that Special COLAs may impact Vacation accrual and may reduce your vacation accrual. In other cases, Members reported the Vacation Team had previously advised them that Special COLAs were “non-reducible” leaves of absence.

The Union communicated to the Membership an awareness there were some contradictions in the information being disseminated as well as its understanding of how Vacation accrual had been impacted by Special COLAs in 2019 and contacted management for clarification.

United management researched the issue and acknowledged that Special COLAs had not reduced vacation in 2019 as a result of a processing error. As a result, some Members had received more in vacation accrual for 2020 than they should have under the agreement. While not recovering that additional vacation, management pointed out the language of the Section 12.A.8. of the Contract which provides for a 1/12th reduction in vacation for each thirty (30) days of leave (or major portion thereof on a prorated basis) and that the Special COLA packets did contain the correct information about vacation reductions.

Having acknowledged an error was made, the company communicated clearly, despite the error, it was never its intent nor had the company in any way agreed, to alter the language in this same Section of the Contract. It was an error. Management, through the monthly Special COLA communications, believes they clearly communicated they would be applying the contract as negotiated.

Over the course of time that ensued, given the effects of the pandemic and the efforts of Flight Attendants to assist the company in reducing payroll, AFA has advocated for the company not to reduce vacations. Ultimately, as is shown in the Vacation Accrual Letters, despite our advocacy, the current financial circumstances in which the company finds itself does not create an environment where management is able to absorb the cost of not reducing vacation accrual. 

Consistent with the information that has been published in each Special COLA Information packet, a Special COLA will reduce vacation accrual by 1/12th for each thirty (30) days of leave or major portion thereof on a prorated basis. 

A Message from Our International Membership Services Department

During this past week, the database at the AFA Membership Services Department experienced a significant technical disruption While we are able to extract some member data, the problem limits our ability to access detailed information regarding your account. For example, if you need to pay outstanding dues, we are able to tell you the outstanding balance, but not the applicable month it covers. You would then be able to make payment by check or credit card (afacwa.org/payment).

If you have questions, you will find much information online (afacwa.org/membership). If you need to contact us, please use the following link: https://www.afacwa.org/contact_membership_services.

In advance, we thank you for your patience as all responses will be delayed as we perform the necessary changes to our database. If your question requires research into your membership account, we anticipate the response may be no sooner than November 1.

5 More Days - Take Action to Save Our Jobs

 Inaction is not an option and there is growing support for a full relief bill. Everyone “supports us.” True support for the American worker comes in the form of a relief bill. We need every Flight Attendant, regardless of status, to commit to Take Action every day until October 1st.

Call Congress

Make three calls every day. One to your Representative and two to your Senators.

SENATE: 888-848-4824
HOUSE: 888-907-9365

October Breast Cancer Awareness Pink Ribbon Program - Get your Pink On!

 Every October, in our ongoing collective effort to raise awareness of the importance of prevention, we pull together with other employees to show our collective support for Breast Cancer Awareness by wearing a pink ribbon behind your official AFA pin or wearing a company approved pink accessory, purchased in previous years, to show your continuing support for Breast Cancer Awareness.

Flight Attendants are encouraged to pick-up a Breast Cancer Awareness Pink Ribbon beginning Monday, October 1st, from your AFA Local Council Representatives. Pink support ribbons will be available throughout the month of October and can be worn while on duty from October 1 through October 31. 

Together we have a unique opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of prevention in battling this disease. We encourage everyone to participate in this effort. Together, we can accomplish great things!

November Special COLAs Available (One-Month Duration)

 Inflight Scheduling will offer Special Company Offered Leaves of Absence (COLAs) for the November Flight Attendant bid month. Additional information can be found on Unitedafa.org. Review the November 2020 Special COLA packet.

Navigating Different World Views

 Everyone has heard the advice to “not talk about politics or religion in the workplace”. In the current climate, the list of subjects that could trigger passionate debates and even nasty interchanges seems to be growing. Usually, these subjects are deeply personal, and discussing them can lead to emotional reactions, both good and bad. Finding out that a coworker has the same views as you can be comforting and affirming, but the exchange can also charge you up emotionally just when you may need to remain calm and focused. Finding out that a coworker has opposing views can change how you see that co-worker, potentially leading to tensions and conflicts in the workplace. How exactly can one navigate different world views without giving up professionalism and civility? Consider some of the suggestions contained in the communication from our MEC Employee Assistance/Professional Standards Committee.

Benefits While on Special COLA – Important Upcoming Changes, Effective Oct. 1
MEC Benefits Committee

As a reminder effective October 1, 2020, Flight Attendants on Special COLA, we can maintain health and welfare benefits coverage at active employee contribution rates for the duration of the Special COLA. As we’ve previously reported, we understand that many of you have expressed concern about your inability to timely pay for benefits having to wait until two months pass and building up a balance of either $750 or $500, depending on the start date of your Special COLA.

As we’ve previously reported, your MEC Benefits Committee has consistently pressed for the company to find a way to ensure these payments can be made timely without having to build up significant premium arrears balances.

Effective October 1, 2020, all Flight Attendants on Special COLA will automatically be moved to direct billing and pay. Your first billing statement will be generated as of October 10th and you will have 30 days from the billing statement date to make your payment.

If you are already set up on the direct bill and payment process, there will be no change and you will continue with the process with which you’ve already become familiar. Further, if you have already set up a recurring direct debit, a process we strongly recommend, those payments will continue to be deducted without change.

For additional information on any outstanding premium balance, visit Your Benefits Resources (YBR) from the Flying Together Website and view the Health Benefits Payment tile from the Home page.

Free College for Union Members and their Families

 Earn your degree for free online. The Free College Benefit helps union families continue their college education without piling on thousands of dollars in student debt.


See a complete list of degree programs here.

Reminders and Quick Links

October 1             Bulletin#26 Effective Date
October 1             Changes to Benefits While on Special COLA
October 19           Benefits Open Enrollment
October 20 – 22 - Fall Regular MEC Meeting 

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