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Update 2002-6

June 12, 2002

It's June.  Yipee.

Item 1

Strike Three, You're Out.   On June 7, 2002, the AFA  lost its third attempt to represent our non union flight attendant colleagues at Frontier.   Apparently, Frontier's first two rejections of the AFA did not send loud enough message to Pat Friend's organizing department.  Here are the past three election results.

Case Number Date Eligible Voters For AFA


29 NMB 328 June 7, 2002 423 201 47.5
27 NMB 305  April 3, 2000 315 125 39.7
26NMB 68 November 10, 1998 183 62(+1 for in-house) 34.4

In the last election, the AFA needed 212 votes to organize.  However, it only received 201 in the election.    Just think, a mere 11 votes separated the AFA from victory and the $197,964 per year in increased dues revenue.

The Frontier Flight Attendants have sent  the same message to the AFA for the third time.  Hopefully, the AFA will respect this third decision by the Frontier flight attendants and leave.  However, the AFA's past behavior shows that it values another chance at getting more dues payers more than respecting a "no" decision.  We have seen it at Delta.  We also see it at Frontier. 

We think that the Frontier flight attendants who were courageous enough to stand up and speak out against AFA representation should be congratulated.  You won the election by a margin of 11 votes.   Clearly, your arguments were persuasive and made the difference in your election.

As of the date of publication of this update, the AFA has yet to issue any press release or publish information on the AFA website about its latest defeat.  The AFA's silence speaks volumes. 

This article is from Rocky Mountain News

Frontier staff rejects union

Flight attendants decide against representation by just 11 votes

By David Kesmodel, News Staff Writer
June 8, 2002

Flight attendants for Frontier Airlines Inc. voted against joining a union by a mere 11 votes, the third time they have rejected representation in four years.

Denver-based Frontier said 201 of 423 eligible attendants cast ballots in favor of joining the Association of Flight Attendants, shy of the simple majority of 212 required for certification.

The AFA previously lost elections at the discount carrier in 1998 and 2000. In 2000, it fell 33 votes short.

"We are extremely pleased that the majority of our flight attendants have expressed their continued belief in working directly with Frontier leadership," Frontier Chief Executive Jeff Potter said after the ballots were tallied Friday.

"I'm very passionate about the culture and the environment we have here," he said. "We have always said we want direct communication with our employees."

Union organizers had been confident they would win on their third try, saying many attendants were upset about inconsistent work rules and schedules and wanted better pay.

"We're hugely disappointed," the AFA's Scott Barnes said. "These workers need representation. They have a management team that is not exactly honest with them."

The vote is a stamp of approval for the way Frontier works with attendants, one airline analyst said.

"It says (the attendants) identify with this airline and that they are comfortable with their direct relationship with management," said James Parker of Raymond James & Associates.

The AFA was coming off a major setback earlier this year, when attendants at Delta Air Lines Inc., the nation's No. 3 carrier, rejected unionization.

The AFA must wait a year before it can file a petition with federal mediators to hold another vote at Frontier.

"If (Frontier attendants) call us again in a year, we will be right there for them," Barnes said.

The union represents more than 50,000 flight attendants, including about 26,000 at UAL Corp.'s United Airlines, the dominant carrier at Denver International Airport.

Three other Frontier employee groups are represented by unions: the pilots, mechanics and flight dispatchers.

The above article suggests that Frontier's AFA organizer, much like our Delta organizer, does not understand the word "no."

Item 2

The dignity and respect of a contract . . . . . 

During the election, the AFA said that it would get an industry leading contract for Delta flight attendants.   The company said that a contract will not guarantee anything, and our group could move backwards. The anti-union group pointed out that Delta pays us a premium not to organize. 

For proof, let us now look at our pilot ground instructors.   They organized in 1999.  They negotiated for two and a half years.  This Summer, they are looking at furloughs. With this threat, they finally swallowed their pride, put their collective tails between their collective legs, and signed a concessionary contract.

According to their union, they are working for $20,000 per year less than the industry average.

Visit the Delta Delta Pilot Ground Instructor website to learn more about their defeat, or read this article by Nancy Fonti from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  You can also visit the AJC Delta Insider.

Delta trainers OK pact with pay-rate freeze
Nancy Fonti - Staff
Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Delta Air Lines pilot ground-training instructors have approved a seven-month contract freezing pay rates.

Robert Costales, president of the Transport Workers Union branch representing the 145 instructors, called the deal "concessionary."

He said the union was willing to accept it because airlines are reporting large losses and other workers in the industry have lost jobs amid the industry slump that was deepened by the Sept. 11 attacks.

Eighty-two percent of union members approved the pact. It is the first contract for the workers, who narrowly voted for union representation 2 1/2 years ago in a rare win for organizers at Delta.

Delta would not comment on the contract, which is amendable Jan. 1, 2003.

"Delta is happy to see these negotiations concluded," said spokesman John Kennedy.

Costales said instructor wage rates at Delta fall behind those of American and United.

"We don't want anyone to believe that we think this agreement is fair," he said. "We need to be on a par scale with the industry. We are willing to accept this because it is a short-term agreement."

Talks had been under way since shortly after the organizing vote. Costales said the union wanted a deal before the summer because Delta has indicated it may lay off 30 instructors in July, and the contract spells out how layoffs are handled.

Kennedy would not confirm any impending layoffs. "We have not made any announcement or any decision on furloughs in the pilot training instructor group," he said.

The instructors earn $37,000 to $63,000 a year, depending on seniority, Costales said. The union originally sought raises of 35 percent.

Bill Gray, president of Local 547 at US Airways, said Delta's rates are about $20,000 a year behind the industry.

"That's unfortunate that Delta, especially in its financial position, has chosen to be noncompetitive," Gray said.

Read the article on the AJC website

This would have been our future under the AFA.  Delta plays hardball with unions. If an activist tells you differently, they do not have a firm grasp on reality. 

Item 3

We have all read about the Delta Benefits Survey currently going on.  Surveys are due on June 14.   If you would like to have some input on our benefits, go to http://www.deltabenefitsurvey.com/ and voice your opinion. While we do not have a union, we do have a voice.  Use yours. 

Item 4

Still no word on the results of the National Mediation Board's investigation into the AFA's charges of interference. If the AFA's claims of "massive interference" were true, we think that the NMB would have been able to render a decision by now.

Item 5

Got TV?  Watch this America Undercover special on a Teamsters strike.  This is the latest in the award winning documentary series by HBO.  Get the whole family, grab the popcorn, and watch the union bust itself.   

American Standoff
Premieres June 10 at 8 PM  (HBO)  

Search the schedule here

American Standoff is about a do-or-die strike by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters against the nation's largest non-union trucking company, Overnite Transportation. October 1999. Upset with management's decision to scale back hours and reduce employee benefits, drivers at the non-union Overnite Transportation go on strike. In four terminals - Atlanta, Memphis, Long Island and Chicago - union organizers arrive to recruit strikers. James P. Hoffa (son of the legendary Jimmy Hoffa, the man who made the teamsters the largest, richest and most powerful union in America) was elected president of the Teamsters earlier in the year. Hoffa vowed during his campaign that his "top priority" would be the Overnite situation.

The strike begins, and workers hit the picket line for what they hope will be a quick resolution, but three weeks pass, then three months, now over two years. As the strike drags on into winter, we come to know several men and women on the picket line. In Atlanta we meet Joe Reeves, who has worked for Overnite since he was 18, considers Overnite his family, and yet is still committed to a strike. In Long Island we are introduced to Mike Ferriolo, who feels discriminated against because of his union views. In Chicago, we meet Hope Hampleman, the only female tractor-trailer driver out of 75 Overland workers. Although concerned about the strike's financial impact on her family (she's a single mom with five kids), Hope sees no recourse.

The strikers' initial resolve is eroded by lost pay, the sight of co-workers crossing the line... and endless waiting. Though the Teamsters help many striking workers get replacement jobs, the strike takes its toll on even diehard union members. To this day the strike remains unresolved.

Produced by two-time Academy Award winnerŪ Barbara Kopple, American Standoff takes a riveting, behind-the-scenes look at the trials and tribulations of the strike and ultimately speaks to the state of the labor movement in this country today.

We enjoyed the Sharon video.  However, we hope the company will send us a copy of this documentary if there is ever a re-run election.

Item 6

The AFA did have a bit of good news this past month.   Flight attendants at United were awarded 48 million dollars in the last round of Wage Arbitration.  To greatly simplify and summarize,  the United contract calls for an arbitration panel to look at the costs of United flight attendants versus the average costs of comparable carriers (e.g. American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Northwest Airlines, and US Airways).  This panel determined that United flight attendants lagged behind the average compensation of these carriers by 48 million dollars.

The AFA says that this equates to a 7.5% raise.  However, this 48 million dollar sum was not determined by averaging only the salaries. The wage arbitration process looked at the total costs including: sick leave, language pay, vacation, work rules, etc.  It is possible that the 48 million dollars could be added back to UAL flight attendant compensation in a category other than pay.  Visit the UAL MEC website  for more information.

The down side to this award is that United is still losing money.  UAL management intends to seek wage and work rule concessions to lower UAL's costs.   This 48 million dollar increase could end up being given back to the company.  It is also possible that UAL will get no concessions from its unions and start down the same path as Eastern and the other airline industry fatalities. 

Item 7

Things are looking grim for our friends at US Airways.  Their company is in serious financial trouble.   The company is asking for concessions and the unions are trying to pitch in to do their part to save the company.  We wish them luck.

Here is a summary of the negotiations that a currently on-going (Source USAirways AFA website E-lines):

US Airways Management's proposal of 6/5 included: 
bulletWage cuts of 15.5%  
bulletDeletion of other pay factors
bulletSignificant health care, pension and other benefit cuts (vacation, sick, salary continuance) 
bulletChanges to our Scope language which would leave us unprotected in the event of a 'partial transaction', in which part of our airline is sold off, and which would allow for furloughs 
bulletAgreement with AFA that furloughed mainline flight attendants would get first crack (in seniority order) at working any new flights operated by MidAtlantic, and that negotiations would continue over how a potential 'flow-through' agreement would work to allow flight attendants to return to the mainline, with seniority intact, as jobs become available 
bulletEstablishment of a profit sharing plan 
bulletA contract extension through 12/31/09 (which satisfies the ATSB's requirement for a stable 7-year plan). 
Surprisingly, the company's proposal did NOT include many work rule changes to enhance productivity. 'Enhancing productivity' is code for 'eliminating jobs'. So, it seems that the company heard the Negotiating Committee when we told them we want to preserve mainline jobs.

The Committee and its advisors met throughout the day on Thursday 6/6, 'costing out' the company's proposal and preparing a preliminary proposal to respond to management. The company's proposal and the preliminary response was presented to the AFA US Airways Master Executive Council on Friday 6/7, at a Special Meeting. After a thorough review of costs, strategy and goals, the MEC approved a counter proposal that was presented to management on Saturday 6/8. 

AFA counter proposal of June 8

The proposal AFA presented to management included:
bulletStock options and profit-sharing that are no less favorable than the terms agreed to with any other work group 
bulletAn agreement that management will not ask the Bankruptcy Court for more reductions than those provided in any potential ratified agreement with the flight attendants
bulletLanguage to maintain mainline jobs now and into the future 
bulletProvisions that all other labor groups must participate in the airline's cost savings plan 
bulletSavings credit for the flight attendants in this process should the pilots change any of the items in their contract in which we have 'Me Too' agreements
bulletWage reductions that were significantly less than proposed by management, with snapbacks and additional raises in future years, as well as a guarantee of even higher raises if the company's revenue surpasses what's predicted in the Business Plan 
bulletTemporary elimination of Crew Meals and the Uniform Cleaning Allowance for the term of the agreement (with a snapback prior to contract amendable date)  Temporary elimination of the $22 Longevity Pay for a flight attendant who has completed 14 years of service (Sect. 3.Q.) and of the $1 per block hour flown Reserve Override provided to reserves who have completed 5 years of service (Sect. 3.N.) through 2004, then snapback to current book rates 
Everything will be contingent upon flight attendant ratification vote.

Management responded to the AFA proposal on the morning of 6/9. In the company's new proposal, management has
bulletReduced the term of the contract extension to December 31, 2008 Eliminated its proposal to discontinue a number of supplemental pay factors, reduced some of its benefit cut proposals 
bulletEliminated proposed cuts to our pension formula, and added stock options to the 'payback' list.  
bulletAll told, the proposals from management averaged the same amount of money per year -- about the $90 million per year in cuts they've said they need from us.  

It is sad to see people in our industry going through this.  However, it does remind us of a point that we made during the election.   It is not a union that provides job security, it is working for a company that is efficient and well managed.  We wonder if the US Airways flight attendants who came to Atlanta to work on the Delta Campaign are now more inclined to agree with this statement.

Item 8

Want to know what a union receives and what it spends?    The Department of Labor's Office of Labor-Management Standards now has an Internet Public Disclosure Room.  This portal will allow you to View Union Annual Financial Reports. A few that you might like to see:

  1. The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) (Note the AFA still has not filed the LM-2 for 2001.  It is past due.  According to the DOL, the AFA's LM-2 is now delinquent.  If the AFA is not organized enough to file its required paperwork on time, we can understand why it has a backlog of grievances, financial problems, and is generally ineffective in representing the interests of its flight attendants.
  2. The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) This is the independent union that represents the American Airlines Flight Attendants.  Note that APFA has filed its LM-2 on time.  APFA also negotiated a contract that surpassed the AFA negotiated United Airlines contract.   Wonder if there is any correlation between organization and effectiveness.
  3. The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) Did you know that ALPA had receipts of $203,909,301 in the year ending 2000?  Search the term "Air Line Pilots Association" in the "Affiliation Name" field to see all of the MEC's, the LEC's, and ALPA national's receipts. 


Thanks for checking in.  As always, if you hear or see something that would be a good basis for an article, let us know.  Even better, write the article yourself and send it to us.







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Last modified: December 13, 2008