Horizon Negotiations Update July 2019
AFA and management met again in Seattle on July 16-18, 2019. AFA’s committee members are MEC President Ed Hawes; Flight Attendants Joelle Jaeger and Tanya Phillips; and our professional negotiator and attorney, Kimberley Chaput. Acting MEC President & MEC Vice President Lisa Davis-Warren also attended much of the session. Management’s team consists of Michelle Abidoye, Managing Director, People and Labor Relations; DeeDee Caldwell, Director, Inflight; Melissa Pierce, Employee Relations; and Amber Hopkins, financial analyst.
This session coincided with our contract’s amendable date, July 18. Because we have an early opener in our contract, we began negotiations in January, giving us a six-month head start on reaching a new agreement. Under the Federal Railway Labor Act, our contract does not expire but becomes amendable. The existing contact stays in full force and in effect until we reach a new agreement through a vote of the membership or until we become deadlocked at mediation with the National Mediation Board. Only at such time as we are at impasse and have been released by the National Mediation Board, can we undertake a collective action to strike. We cannot strike just because we’ve passed the amendable date of the contract.
Articles Discussed This Week
Before we get into what we discussed, we want to mention something that we did not discuss—Reserve (Article 7). Management received our message that their proposal to adopt a toothless version of the Alaska reserve system (including the potential for flying a 14-hour duty day after sitting on reserve for 22 hours!) was not going to fly. They have removed that proposal from the table. Thanks for your strong feedback—they heard you!
We did not reach tentative agreement on any articles this week, but we did discuss and continued to make headway on the following sections:
Sick Leave (Article 9)
We are still apart on increasing our sick-leave accrual and on allowing us to cash out part of our sick leave on retirement. Management did, however, at long last, agree to put an attendance policy into the collective-bargaining agreement. They have resisted doing so for years, while changing their attendance guidance unilaterally and making it less favorable for Flight Attendants. Putting an attendance policy in the contract is a big deal—once it’s in there and ratified, it cannot be changed without AFA’s agreement. We backed off our proposal for the Alaska attendance policy and proposed improvements to the current Inflight attendance guidance. Management has not agreed to our changes in the existing attendance guidance, so we are still working on it.
Vacation (Article 10)
AFA proposed increasing the number of vacation hours we accrue each pay period and the value at which a week of vacation is paid out. Unsurprisingly, management rejected both proposals. We did, however, agree to keep the two-round vacation bid system and to eliminate the restriction on the number of vacation periods you could bid. We’re also working on ensuring you receive additional compensation should you be flown into your vacation for operational reasons. This was our first time really discussing this Article, so we definitely have a way to go.
Uniforms (Article 12)
With the changeover to the new uniform this fall, this Article has grown in importance. We have heard from many Flight Attendants that they are concerned about losing the money in their banks due to the $500 cap. Management has assured us that no one will lose money in their banks this year. If you have money in your bank, you can use it to replace current uniform items, if needed, this year. Or you can hold it to purchase new uniform items (in addition to your selected kit—which the Company will pay for). If you need replacement pieces, please do buy them—but don’t spend down your account just so you don’t lose it in the changeover. You won’t lose any uniform bank money!
The big issues in this Article revolve around what pieces will comprise the required uniform; how much our annual bank should increase due to that fact that the new uniform is more expensive; cost of the uniform for new hires; an increase in our cleaning allowance; and our proposal for an annual shoe reimbursement. We will discuss these issues further in upcoming sessions.
General (Article 25)
- Both sides have passed several proposals on this Article and we are slowly whittling down the open issues. This session we agreed in concept that we will adopt whatever policy AFA and Alaska Airlines do regarding returning to work after a positive drug test. We understand that AFA/Alaska are close to reaching agreement on this groundbreaking policy, and we’re pleased that AAG is finally treating substance-use disorders as medical rather than disciplinary issue. Under DOT and FAA rules, you can still work in a safety-sensitive position after one failed test. You cannot do so if you fail a second test. Our goal is to help people get back to work after a first failed test and on a pathway to success.
- We also reached agreement on crew lounges. While management is moving to combined lounges with other work groups, we were able to ensure that only flight crew would have access to the quiet rooms and the bag-storage areas. We will also have at least two computers per domicile/co-domicile dedicated solely to crew check-in and we will have a minimum standard for what amenities need to be in the lounges.
- On the commuter policy, we increase the time in which you may list for flights from 48 to 72 hours. AFA reluctantly dropped our ground commuting proposal, and management refuses to give boarding priority to commuters (W5). The pilots have this, and management has not yet offered a convincing reason why Flight Attendants should not.
Do the Right Thing
We will not be negotiating in August due to scheduling conflicts. However, we have agreed to open the remaining Articles of the contract in our September session. Management will be bringing proposals on Hours of Service, Scheduling and Reserve (Articles 5, 6 and 7). AFA will make our opening passes on Compensation and Benefits (Articles 3 and 18). In addition, we will be discussing all remaining open issues in the other articles we have not yet reached a tentative agreement.
This is go time! We will be discussing the big economic issues that will form the backbone of our new contract. Going into this session, we urge management (as they always urge us) to Do the Right Thing. Our Company is making money, and we’ve done what they asked to commit to compete. We’ve given them productivity, and it’s time for us to share in the cost savings from our productivity improvements! We want to be productive, and we want our Company to prosper. Yet we don’t want to be left behind, we want to lead—and the right thing is for management to compensate us fairly for our continued part in the productivity gains. We are seeking and negotiating for a regional industry leading contract in pay and work rules because we are an industry leading regional airline, in part due to our continued efforts and sacrifices. Our workgroup is working hard to ensure a vibrant Horizon Air and our pay/ work rules must reflect these efforts. We are and have been instrumental in helping shape Alaska Air Group into the companies that customers love to fly with. Now its managements turn to do the right thing for us!
Although we won’t be meeting in August, we will still be working hard and keeping you informed. We will be hosting negotiation social events in SEA on August 20 and PDX on August 21. Keep your eyes out for exact times and locations. The locations will be close to the airports.
Our updates will also be posted on our website, https://afahorizon.org/ and on our official Facebook page, HZN AFA. You must “Like” the HZN AFA Facebook page to receive all the notifications. If you have provided your personal email address, you will receive the updates via email as well. You can update your personal contact information at the website, https://afahorizon.org.
Remember to wear your AFA pin! Management does notice, and they notice that you are behind us at the table. Wearing your pin is the small act that helps make a very large difference! After all, we’re stronger together and better together!
Ed Hawes, Kimberley Chaput, Tanya Phillips and Joelle Jaeger