Horizon Negotiations Update April 2019
AFA and management met again in Seattle, from April 16-18. for three full days in Seattle. AFA’s committee members are MEC President Ed Hawes; Flight Attendants Joelle Fuhrman and Tanya Phillips; and our professional negotiator and attorney, Kimberley Chaput. Management’s team consisted of Michelle Abidoye, Managing Director, People and Labor Relations; DeeDee Caldwell, Director, Inflight; Taylor Ball, attorney; Melissa Pierce, Employee Relations; and Brittany Audette, financial analyst. The Company has not yet replaced Kieran Whitney, who is now back at Alaska. No word on when a replacement will be named.
We reached tentative agreement on Association Security and Dues Check-off (Article 22). We will now be able to have payroll deduction for any back dues, which will make staying in good standing easier for flight attendants. This was an AFA International proposal, and we appreciate the Company’s willingness to cooperate on this issue.
We also made good progress on Leaves of Absence (Article 14). The biggest improvement is that any flight attendant will now be able to take up to a year off after the birth or adoption of a child (or a foster-care placement). We continue to work on improving insurance coverage during leaves, but so far the Company is unwilling to move off the current language. We will return to that topic when we discuss benefits in greater depth.
We are close to agreement on Safety, Health & Security (Article 26). We expanded the situations in which flight attendants could drop trips with pay protection when involved in a medical emergency or other serious event while on a trip, and we continue to finesse the details.
Overall, things were going well until the Company dropped a bombshell at the end of the second day. We had spent portions of the past three sessions working on hotel language in Duty-Time Expenses (Article 4). Your negotiations team members had spent a great deal of time working on improvments to hotel language, conferring with Hotel Committee chair Jane Casey and reviewing other flight attendant contracts. We thought we had made significant progress, even establishing a Minimum Hotel Standards checklist and requiring all hotels be rated at least 3 stars or higher.
We were in final discussions on these standards when Michelle Abidoye said that of course the Company still could pick any hotel it wanted. We were stunned. We believed that they would only have the right to make the final hotel choice as long as it was rated at least three stars AND met the minimum standards. We were honestly stunned by their interpretation. Why would we spend four months negotiating standards if they were just going to be ignored?
All the work that had been put into crafting the improved language around hotels seems to have been a waste of time. Obviously, we’re not giving up, but it has definitely undermined any trust and goodwill we had established at the table. Our next session is going to be…interesting.
Our next session will be May 7-9 in Seattle. We’ll continue where we left off this session, and will present our proposals on Article 25, General, which includes the commuter policy. Please let AFA know what your thoughts on hotels so we can make management understand how important this issue is to us!
Our updates will also be posted on our website, https://afahorizon.org/ and on our official Facebook page, HZN AFA. Like our page to see posts in your newsfeed.
Remember to wear your AFA! Management does notice, and they notice that you are behind us at the table. After all, we’re stronger together and better together!