Special MEC Meeting Update
A closed Special Meeting of the United Master Executive Council (MEC) was held on March 25 & 26, 2015 in Chicago. The United MEC Members of the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) used this opportunity to update the United MEC on the status & progress of Negotiations for a Joint Contract that will govern the working conditions for the combined Flight Attendant group at United Airlines.
Efforts of the Union to develop joint positions on any number of subjects have been ongoing. In May of last year, a decision was made to modify the process by which subjects would be addressed. After discussion and deliberation by the Members of the United Master Executive Council, our Union leadership made a decision to engage management using an Interest Based Bargaining methodology (IBB) facilitated by the National Mediation Board (NMB). Representatives from the company and AFA were trained by the NMB in the facilitated problem solving negotiations process in July and August of last year.
Before the process began, time was spent by the company and Union in the development of a protocol agreement to guide the parties through this process. The protocol agreement typically addresses issues such as where negotiations will take place, what the schedule will look like and who will be involved in the bargaining process.
It was agreed that this new process would involve a structure of subcommittees where the participants, subject matter experts in various areas of our respective Contracts, would work to develop solutions for the numerous subjects and sections on which we were negotiating. Regular bargaining sessions were scheduled for two (2) consecutive weeks each month and dates were reserved and have been established through July 2015. July 23 was established as the target deadline for completing these negotiations.
Negotiations using the interest based bargaining methodology have been ongoing in Denver, Chicago and Houston over the past several months and are expected to continue in Washington, D.C. in the months ahead. The intent of these discussions is the development of acceptable solutions that meet the interests of all of the parties involved. It is important to remember that there are multiple interests that need to be addressed – those of the respective Memberships at United AFA, CAL AFA and CMI AFA as well as those interests of the company.
After several months of meetings, all of the parties involved met with representatives from the NMB in January for a progress report and to review those processes that were working as well as those areas where improvement was necessary to advance the common objective of reaching a Joint Contract. Topics discussed up until that point included Reserve, “Hours of Service” (discussing duty time, legal rest and trading), Training & Meetings, Vacation, Benefits and Language Qualified.
The JNC continues to work to find entire Contract sections to adopt for use in the new Joint Contract through an “adopt and amend” approach. This process contemplates using existing Contract language from any of the three Contracts that can be “adopted and amended” to meet the needs of the parties involved. Examples where this process has been employed include our current Contract Sections on Grievance, System Board of Adjustment, Filling of Vacancies, Reduction in Personnel and Expenses, Transportation and Lodging. We have not yet, however, reached any agreement on these sections.
Regrettably, the JNC reported that progress has slowed in recent weeks. AFA subcommittee members continue to develop solutions that address Flight Attendant interests as well as those of the company. However, the JNC reports that we don’t see the same efforts being made from our company counterparts. While we continue to work to put the different Contracts together the company is clearly trying to develop concepts that don’t exist in either book today.
At the end of the last bargaining session, the JNC and the company had a status conference with the National Mediation Board (NMB) to discuss the progress that has been made since they last met in January. We are currently waiting to receive the NMB's feedback on the topics discussed.
Following the update that was provided, there was a robust discussion by the Members of the United Master Executive Council and the following Resolution of Support for Our Joint Negotiation Committee was unanimously adopted:
Whereas, the managements of Continental (CAL) and United Airlines (UAL) entered into a merger agreement on October 1, 2010 having an immediate impact on our Members and,
Whereas, the United, CMI and CAL Master Executive Councils entered into Joint Contract Negotiations with United management on December 4, 2012 and,
Whereas, the United Master Executive Council recognizes that the Joint Contract negotiations, facilitated by the National Mediation Board (NMB), may conclude in a possible Joint Tentative Agreement (TA) and,
Whereas, the United Master Executive Council recognizes the significant impact the transition into and implementation of this Joint Contract and merging of the operations will have on the Membership and,
Whereas there is a clear need for a transparent process by which the Membership can collectively understand the terms of this Joint Contract for the purpose of making a ratification decision and,
Whereas, the United Master Executive Council recognizes that central to any understanding of the terms of the Tentative Agreement is the need for details of any transition agreement(s) to be clearly outlined and to specify the process by which domicile and/or base populations and flying will be allocated and any automation necessary for implementation will be addressed.
Therefore Be It Resolved, the United Master Executive Council directs the United Master Executive Council Members of the Joint Negotiating Committee to advocate that resolution of the implementation and transition issues be incorporated into a Letter of Agreement and,
Be It Further Resolved, the United Master Executive Council take all steps necessary to immediately advance the Membership Engagement process to inform Members and support our Joint Negotiating Committee in reaching a Tentative Agreement that recognizes the contributions of United Flight Attendants and,
Be It Finally Resolved, the United Master Executive Council President communicates this resolution of the AFA United Master Executive Council to the International President, the CAL & CMI Master Executive Councils, the Joint Negotiating Committee and all United AFA Members.
United Master Executive Council
March 26, 2015