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April 15, 2020 – Can you explain how the new pay rates work? How did you come up with them, and why is there a lower rate for new hires?
The new pay rates are as follows:
|F/A Longevity||Sept. 1, 2020||May 1, 2021||May 1, 2022||May 1, 2023|
|1st 6 months||+1%||0%||+0.25%||+0.5%|
|2nd 6 months||+1%||0%||+0.25%||+0.5%|
|Years 2-20||+4.75%||0%||+ 2%||+ 1.75%|
Here’s how the pay scale works. Let’s assume that you are currently at Year 8 and that your anniversary date is March 1. Under the TA, your rate would increase by 4.75%, from the current $31.42 to $32.91 on September 1. On March 1, 2021, you would move to Year 9, at a rate of $33.79. There is no contract raise in 2021, but you would get another anniversary increase on March 1, 2022, to $34.69. Then, on May 1, 2022, your rate would rise to $35.30. On March 1, 2023, you would be at $36.89. On May 1, 2022, you would receive another increase, to $37.54. Finally, on March 1, 2024, your rate would become $38.46. You would continue to receive anniversary raises every March 1, even after the contract’s amendable date.
Note that the new rates do not take effect until September 1, 2020. This was part of the compromise we reached to make sure that the Company would honor the TA once COVID-19 decimated our industry. We delayed, but did not change, the pay rates. To help management conserve cash, we further agreed that the raises would not be reflected on your paycheck until January 1, 2021. On May 5, 2021, you will receive payment for the increased amount you should have been paid from September 1 – December 31, 2020.
We agreed to the pay rates as part of a package on the entire contract. We knew Flight Attendants also wanted increased per diem, more paid holidays, full cancellation pay, etc. We continued to go back and forth with management on all these issues until we could push no more. Over the past couple contracts, our increases have averaged 1.5% per year, regardless of how long we had been negotiating. We wanted to frontload the raises because the rates compound over time. For example, and using easy math, let’s assume a pay rate of $10.00 per hour. A 4.75% raises brings that rate to $10.48. Then a 2% increase on top of that, or 21 cents, makes the pay rate to $10.69. And the final 1.75% brings the total to $10.87. The total increase is therefore 8.7%, which is greater than simply adding the 8.5% you would get by simply adding 4.75, 2 and 1.75. In addition, flight attendants with at least 25 years of service will receive an additional $1 per credit hour.
Although it was a difficult decision, we agreed that there would not be a contractual raise in 2021. This was a trade off for increasing per diem to $2.10 on May 1, 2020 and $2.25 on May 1, 2021. Together, these amounts represent a 12.5% increase in per diem rates. Some people prefer higher per diem, since it’s non-taxable (at least for multi-day trips) and is paid on every trip hour. Others prefer higher wages, since your pay rate is paid on all credit hours—including sick and vacation—and is used for determining your 401k match and your PBP pay out.
Finally, we agreed to lower raises for new flight attendants for two main reasons. First, due to the Pathways Program, more junior flight attendants than ever have been leaving us for Alaska. We made a conscious decision to give a bigger piece of the pie to flight attendants who had been here a while. Secondly, we made structural changes to our reserve section, which, until recently, would apply primarily to first-year flight attendants. They will be receiving a 75-hour guarantee and working one fewer day per month. They’ll also be earning an additional $2.50 per block hour flown from reserve.
Pay rates are never easy. Of course we asked for more! At the end of the day, we remain at the top of the regional industry at most steps, and we have the highest per diem rate.
April 16, 2020 – Do the changes to the commuter policy mean that only the most senior 15% of flight attendants can be commuters? I am junior, and I commute—will I now be disciplined if I can’t commute to my trip?
No, and no. The commuter policy itself applies, and would continue to apply, to all flight attendants. Under the TA, you would have to register as a commuter and designate the metropolitan area nearest your permanent residence (your address in PeopleSoft) that is served by AAG, as your registered commuter city. You would be able to list 72 hours out instead of the current 48. Other than that, the commuter policy is unchanged, and you will not be disciplined if you follow the policy but cannot commute to your trip or reserve duty. What has changed is that some commuters will be able to use a higher boarding priority when they commute on QX metal. The number of commuters who can use the W-5 code will be equal to 15% of flight attendants on the seniority list. We currently have about 700 flight attendants; that means 105 flight attendants could use the code. Remember that not all flight attendants commute, and that even those who do, some may not commute on QX. The 105 is about the same number of registered commuters we have today, and that number can flex up and down as our seniority list grows or shrinks. We pushed hard to make the W-5 code available to all commuters. While we were not able to achieve that, we got close—and now it’s in the contract as a building block for next time.
April 17, 2020 – What has changed in SAP? Today I can basically drop a day trip but now it says five (5) hours. How is that an improvement?
- There are three major improvements to SAP:The first three days of the bid month are no longer blackout days. Because PBS does not build conflicting schedules month-to-month, there is no need for these days to be exempt from SAP.
- Only contractual paid holidays are SAP blackout days (New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas). While Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day are new holidays, SAP will no longer be blacked out on Mother’s Day, the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. New Year’s Day replaces New Year’s Eve as a blackout day.
- You will be able to drop down to guarantee or five hours below your awarded line value, whichever is greater. Currently, the allowable difference is the greater of guarantee or four hours below you awarded line value. Adding the hour gives you more flexibility to adjust your schedule, not less.
April 18, 2020 – Why is the attendance policy in the contract, and with only 10 days?
Our attendance policy has always been just that—a Company policy. Management has changed it, always to their benefit, several times over the past few years. We started with 13 days, then 12 and now 10. Although we generally do not like to put disciplinary provisions into a contract, in this case, it’s the only way to prevent management from making any unilateral changes. The policy may not be changed now, unless both sides agree.
We did try—very hard—to increase the number of days back to 12. Management said they were way beyond their comfort zone even ceding control over the attendance by putting it in the contract. Ultimately, the Negotiation Committee accepted 10 days because it is no worse than what we have today, and now it cannot be worsened. We didn’t really foresee a situation where management would unilaterally improve the policy, so we were ultimately amenable to just getting it in the contract to hold the line where it is today.
April 19, 2020 – Why does AFA support the TA? I think we should vote NO and get more.
AFA leadership supports the TA because we feel it is the best deal we could reach under the current circumstances. Our aviation economist has said that he does not see demand returning to normal for two to four years. Looking into the future, we do not believe that we would get a better deal without waiting for years. During those years, we would not enjoy the benefits of the new TA rates—and we would be unlikely to negotiate enough improvements to make up for the years of lost raises.
Here’s what would happen if the TA were not ratified:
The current contract would remain in effect. We would survey the membership, possibly apply for mediation, and aim to be back at the bargaining table in the fall. Once we are back at the table, both sides can add or change proposals. In the current environment, we would expect to see management demanding concessions and no longer agreeing to items in the TA that cost them money. We do not foresee a situation in which we would come out with a TA as good as the one we have without negotiations taking several years. Striking is not an option until we:
a) apply for mediation;
b) reach an impasse;
c) get permission from the government to strike.
This process can take years, and the current administration has not released any flight attendants to strike.
Please understand that management can ask us to negotiate concessions even if the TA ratifies. However, we are not required to negotiate until the contract becomes amendable in 2024. If the TA fails, we have to go back to the table and we have to negotiate in good faith. That is how the Railway Labor Act works.
If the worst-case scenario happens and AAG files for bankruptcy, we are required to negotiate contract changes regardless of whether we’re under the current contract or the new TA. We would certainly rather negotiate concessions with the higher TA pay rates as the baseline than start with the rates in the current agreement.
In short, both the MEC and the Negotiating Committee firmly believe that we would be better off in all potential scenarios with the new TA in effect. We understand the TA is not perfect, but under the circumstances, we unanimously support ratification.
April 20, 2020 – I know we do not get a raise until September, but when does the rest of the contract go into effect?
In general, items will be implemented as follows:
- May 1, 2020
- Per diem increase to $2.10
- Attendance policy
- 2-hour reserve call out in all bases
- Rescheduling language
- Increased allotment of golden days
- Trips from F/A trade board can be assigned to reserves
- Parental leave
- Commuter policy
- Most non-economic items
- September 1, 2020
- Pay scale, including longevity premium, but increase paid in May 2021 for 9/1-12/31/2020
- Calling in sick no less than one hour in advance
- January 1, 2020
- Most other pay components (e.g., new holidays, drug-testing pay, ground-holding pay, pre-boarding pay)
- Option to forego parking
- Hotel sideletter with minimum standards
- Max 12-hour duty day
- Max 6 legs, 5 working
- Increased training pay
- Other LOA provisions
- Benefits and short-term disability (but will see in open enrollment in November)
- First installment of ratification bonus ($1500 of $2250) paid on January 5, 2020 check
- April 1, 2020
- New reserve system, including guarantee of 75 hours, $2.50 per block hour flown from reserve, and additional day off
- SAP: increase to 5 hours from original line value; eliminate blackout on first 3 days of month; only paid holidays are SAP holidays
- F/A who pickups, volunteers or is drafted to a trip will not be extended
- Jet-bridge trades
- Open time trades based on number of duty periods, not calendar days
- May 5, 2020
- Second installment of ratification bonus ($750 of $2250)
- Wage increase from 9/1-12/31/2020 paid in lump sum
April 21, 2020 – What will change with the new reserve system?
We have completely overhauled the reserve system, modeling it after Alaska’s system. The main changes are:
- You will be either AM or PM. There will be no airport lines. Reserve availability periods (RAP) will still be 14 hours, but up to twice per month you can be converted to extended reserve (ER), which is a 24-hour RAP. You will be able to request, by seniority, the days you would prefer to be converted.
- Assignments must start during the RAP. Currently they must both start and finish during the RAP. Additionally, time spent on reserve does not count toward maximum duty period as it does today. Your 12-hour maximum duty period will start at check-in, not at the beginning of the RAP as it does today.
- Airport reserve, now called airport standby (APSB) will be an assignment, like a trip. The maximum APSB period will be five (5) hours, and will be paid at a credit per hour, above the value of any trip you are assigned. APSB will be assigned no more than four times per month (if you are assigned more, you will receive premium pay).
- Reserves cannot be junior assigned.
- AM or PM reserves will be able to self-assign trips the day before. If you have a one, two, three or four day block, you must assign a trip matching your days of availability. Reserves with five or six day blocks may only assign themselves to an APSB shift. Self-assignment is optional.
- Reserves will be paid an additional $2.50 per block hour flown from reserve. Note that a block hour can be different from a credit hour. For example, if you are assigned a quick turn with only 2.3 hours of block, you will be credited with four (4) hours because that it’s the minimum value of a day trip. You will receive the $2.50 per block hour only on the 2.3 hours of actual block.
- 2-hour call out in all domiciles.
- Reserve guarantee increased to 75 hours.
- Reserves will have an additional day off—12 in a 30 day month or 13 in a 31 day month.
These are significant changes. With reserve now reaching higher up the seniority list, we want to make sure everyone is aware of them.
April 22, 2020 – How does our pay compare with other regional airlines?
We also have compensation components that most other regionals do not have at all, such as rigs (credit drivers for trips, such as block, duty, time away from base and average minimum credit) and ground-holding pay. Finally, we will have the highest per diem in the regional industry.
These are significant changes. With reserve now reaching higher up the seniority list, we want to make sure everyone is aware of them.
April 23, 2020 – Why did you get rid of the duty table?
To answer this question, we have to travel back a couple of contracts. For years, Horizon flight attendants fell under the pilot FARs for rest and duty. We had a 12:30 maximum scheduled duty period that could be rescheduled to 14 hours. When the FAA adopted the new pilot duty and rest rules (the 117s), the rules automatically applied to us. The duty table is contained in those rules, so it became part of our contract. As you know, the maximum duty period under the table depends on report time and the number of legs to be flown.
The current contract is our first under flight attendant FARs. Many flight attendants wanted flight attendant FARs because they provide more flexibility for picking up flying. We kept the duty table because we thought it would offer more protection. We did, however, change how rescheduling could be done—a flight attendant can now be rescheduled 90 minutes past what the duty table would allow.
Unfortunately, the duty table (both now and under the 117s) was confusing to a lot of flight attendants. In this round of negotiations, we decided to go to an across-the-board maximum duty period of 12 hours. Since management builds buffers into our trips, we knew that the actual maximum would be 11:30. We also negotiated a reduction in the number of legs per duty period. We felt comfortable enough with these changes to accept the 12-hour duty period.
April 24, 2020 – Is it true that I’ll be considered a yes vote if I don’t vote?
No. Your vote simply won’t be counted, since it wasn’t cast. To ratify the TA, 50% + 1 of those who vote must vote for it. Failing to vote has no effect on the outcome.
April 25, 2020 – I have not received my ballot! What can I do?
The “ballot” is actually your voting instructions. You will vote on line or by telephone. If you did not receive your instructions, please call the AFA Membership Department at 800.424.2401. Press 1, then extension 706. The staff is working remotely due to Covid-19, so please leave a voicemail. Messages will be checked between 9:30 and 5:00 EDT. They’ll help you get set up to vote. Don’t forget, you must vote by noon on Thursday, April 30, 2020.
April 26, 2020 – People are saying that if we vote no, we will never make back the money in the TA. Obviously, we will only vote for a second TA if it had bigger raises. How is that not making more money?
It could be—but only if the raises in a second TA were large enough to make up for what you lost by not ratifying the TA. This is called the “opportunity cost” of delaying. Let’s say the TA is voted down. We would interview for new Negotiating Committee members, survey the flight attendants, possibly apply for mediation, draft an opener, and go back to the table, if all goes well, in the fall. The coronavirus has shell-shocked the airline industry, and Air Group is losing money, so we would expect negotiations to be contentious. No one knows when demand will return, and analysts predict a significantly smaller industry when things get back to normal in two to four years.
Let’s be optimistic and say we negotiate from October 2020 through April 2022 (18 months). Everything would be back on the table, but for purposes of this discussion, let’s focus on the main issues of the pay scale and per diem.
Consider a flight attendant who was hired on April 1, 2018. She averages 75 credit hours and 300 hours of per diem per month. Here’s how she would fare under the TA and under the current agreement. (Under the current contract, she is still getting her step increase; under the TA she gets both the step increase and the across-the-board increase).
|Wages|| || || || || || || || || || |
|Per Diem|| || || || || || || || || || |
From May 1, 2020, through April 30, 2022, her total compensation would be
|CBA wages||$21,352||$23,175||???—new CBA||??? —new CBA|
|Difference||$998||$1,104||??? —new CBA||??? —new CBA|
|TA per diem||$7,560||$8,100||$8,100||$8,100|
|CBA per diem||$7,200||$7,200||??? —new CBA||??? —new CBA|
|Difference||$360||$900||??? —new CBA||??? —new CBA|
In short, in the first year, the flight attendant will earn 5% more in wages and per diem under the TA than under the current contract. In year two (2), she will earn 6.2% more than she would under the current contract. These percentages would increase the longer it took to negotiate a new agreement.
During the two years we would spend negotiating, this flight attendant would have earned an additional $3,362 over the current contract, which would remain in effect. Accordingly, to break even (and not even considering inflation), she would have to earn an additional $3,362 in wages and per diem; the further this were spread over the new agreement, the more the amount would have to be.
So, yes, we could end up with more—but the raises and per diem would have to be significantly higher than in the TA. While we wish it were not the case, we do not believe that we would have that kind of leverage if we went back to the table. And this doesn’t even take into account the other money in the TA—new holidays, drug testing, ground holding, pay for dropped deadhead—that would be open for renegotiation.
If you truly feel that you need to vote no, you should do so. We just want to make sure that all members have accurate information on which to base their vote.
April 27, 2020 – Why didn’t we get boarding pay for every flight? Boarding is the hardest part of any flight and it’s uncompensated!
We opened on boarding pay and it was still on the table well into January. While we won’t get it on every flight, lineholders will get paid and credited 0.5 hours if they agree to pre-board a flight they’re not scheduled to work or deadhead on. And they can decline to do so without penalty.
As for the larger question of boarding pay, there are several reasons we were unable to achieve this bargaining goal. No airline gets paid for boarding flights. We have heard rumors that Alaska’s pay starts when the first passenger scans in. This is not true. Horizon was unwilling not only to pay the additional boarding compensation but also to be the first in the industry to pay for boarding.
In addition, we are paid rigs (the greater of the credit drivers, such as minimum day, block time, duty period, average minimum duty period, and time away from base). Depending on how your trip is built, your credits may be more than your block time. This is intended to compensate for sit times, boarding delays, etc. This is not to say that we don’t deserve boarding pay. We pushed hard and were unable to achieve that. The pre-boarding pay is a building block for future contracts. In other words, we fought as hard as we could and will continue the fight next time.