Dear Flying Partners:
I would like to take a few minutes to talk with all United Flight Attendants about an issue that has been at the forefront of discussions at all pre- merger subsidiaries. As we communicated to you in January, AFA has been trying to fully understand how United Airlines management is taking delivery of their 787s and assigning them to the line, and whether or not they are in compliance with the Expedited Mediation Protocol and Related Agreements dated September 2, 2011. Beginning in August of last year, AFA has been asking for information from United regarding how it designates aircraft as being assigned to one pre-merger carrier or another. We have stated on more than one occasion that we believe the public statements being made by the Company regarding the newly received 787s do not comply with the Letter of Agreement.
United finally met with AFA in December and despite not providing any concrete evidence, continued to assert that all 787s being delivered were correctly being assigned to the line as pre-merger Continental aircraft. Shortly after that meeting AFA provided United management with documentation from Boeing’s website which clearly contradicted their explanation. However, they did not address the discrepancy. Then to further confuse the matter, on January 11th, Sam Risoli spoke to Flight Attendants in the IAD co-terminal, telling them that 787s # 26-30 would be designated as Continental aircraft.
On January 19, 2016, in response to United’s unwillingness to provide the requested data and documentation, to which we are entitled, AFA filed MEC Grievance 1-16, protesting the Company’s failure to identify and designate aircraft in accordance with the Letter of Agreement. The arbitration was scheduled for March 2nd and 3rd, with a decision due by March 19th.
Last week, United management asked that this week’s hearing be postponed. The Company stated that, while attempting to collect the documentation for AFA, it discovered the following: (A) one of the 787s currently in service is in fact from the original pre-merger United order of 25 787s; (B) two 787s that will be delivered by this Spring belong to pre-merger United; and (C) pre-merger United may be entitled to one other 787.
These admissions, after so many months, confirm AFA’s concerns. However, this does not resolve the dispute, or satisfy the MEC grievance. AFA believes there are still more unanswered questions regarding the allocation of the 787 fleet. In order to give United management more time to provide the data and documentation, which we have been asking for since last August, we agreed to a postponement of the hearing.
The time frame for this postponement is not unlimited. The resolution of this grievance, based on the previously agreed upon manner in which aircraft are to be identified and assigned to the line, is an issue of critical importance to all United Flight Attendants and, in particular to all pre- merger United Flight Attendants. We have agreed to the Company’s request for a few more days to provide the documentation we have requested. The Company and AFA have scheduled meetings to continue discussions on resolution of this dispute. Our priority is to ensure aircraft are properly assigned to the line and that this is accomplished expeditiously. If this does not occur, we will continue with the arbitration. In either case – whether by agreement or arbitration – we are confident aircraft deliveries will conform to the requirements of our contract. This is about holding management accountable for the commitments that have been made to all of us.
Ken Diaz, President
United Master Executive Council
Association of Flight Attendants – CWA, AFL-CIO
LECP Editorial comment:
THIS is excellent news and IS the reason a Union fights for its membership. Time, energy, resources and due diligence are necessary to pursue where and when questions need to be asked.
Now, when I say “this is excellent news” I also mean this is very sad news. Sad that mistakes and decisions of such huge consequence have occurred, and within an environment which has allowed them to occur with an apparent arrogance that documentation did not ‘need to be produced’ or held to written agreements made in good faith.
The other day I attended one of the system-wide series of “Management Roadshows” in Denver which is promoting CEO Munoz’ “vision” of how he wants the ‘new United’ to operate under his tenure… with a focus on its employees… on safety… on accountability… on winning back the customers we have lost….on a “shared purpose”. The SPECIFIC word that was the basis of the entire presentation and ‘vision’ was and is — TRUST.
And a BREACH OF TRUST is what this 787 allocation issue exemplifies at its core!
I don’t believe something of this magnitude falls under the category of a ‘simple mistake’. The allocation of aircraft is based upon trusting corporate adherence to an agreement and a legal promise by United Management that has now affected which pre-merger Flight Attendant group flies which 787 routes, who should have flown which 787 routes, who WILL FLY 787 planned routes, domicile/base Flight Attendant manpower, scheduling, Reserve support, lost earning power, hiring, surpluses, on and on and on. TRUST!(?) We have been in negotiations, sitting across the table from those who were or should have been aware of these allocation errors, and yet those same individuals have leveled blame at AFA for any number of allegations that it is the Union who has not honestly engaged in reaching a contract agreement. Ironic…..and sad. I, for one, certainly hope that our new CEO will do everything possible to make this ‘right’. And of course, it cannot go unsaid that ALL this could have been avoided with a serious focus on contract negotiations by the same members of management who have been responsible for ensuring the allocation of aircraft was performed according to the legally binding merger agreement …and who evidently have failed to do so. A contract – ANY contract – is founded upon the principle that parties will fully abide by that agreement. Does this major breach of trust by his management team endanger the overall trust that Oscar so appropriately promotes is necessary and critical to the fulfillment of his vision for a truly UNITED airline? I hope our new CEO, as he returns to full strength, recognizes the need to do all that is necessary to resolve this issue so that we can all move forward with “a shared purpose”… and a shared trust.
Here’s a takeaway thought. Would an upstart union ‘leadership’ have even questioned the issue(?); would they have the financial, administrative or legal resources necessary to pursue questioning the issue(?); would they have first spent precious time putting the issue out to the membership to vote upon whether the questions should even be pursued(?); would they have simply ‘accepted’ management’s word that all aircraft were allocated appropriately(?); would they have fully upheld the rights of ALL those who they promise to represent(?). Actually, there are many more questions…but you get the idea.
Thank you to the AFA Union supporters who have patiently waited while this investigation process played out via appropriate channels. Stay strong and stand in solidarity as we continue forward, facing these challenges and asking the necessary questions – TOGETHER!
Ken Kyle, DEN C9 LECP