Hello. This is George Price, APFA Communications Coordinator, with the APFA Hotline for Wednesday, November 26, 2003.
The holiday season is upon us once again. Projections are that loads will be very heavy during the next few days. Although this is good news from a financial standpoint, it also means our jobs as Flight Attendants will be even more demanding. Despite the rigors of our jobs and challenges that we have all faced this year, we still have a great deal to be thankful for. The APFA Officers, Representatives, and Staff would like to wish all APFA members and their families a very safe and happy Thanksgiving.
The APFA has been meeting with the Company for several months in an attempt to secure a Letter of Agreement on a new Commuter Policy. Unfortunately, the Company has been unwilling to put such a policy in a Letter of Agreement similar to the one they have with the Allied Pilots Association (APA). The APFA will continue to meet with American on a new Commuter Policy and looks forward to formalizing a Letter of Agreement on this issue soon.
APFA President John Ward, Safety Coordinator Joann Matley, and Legislative Representative Joan Wages met Friday with FAA Administrator Marion Blakey. Among the issues discussed were FAA rules governing rest provisions for Flight Attendants. Although Administrator Blakey made no commitments on the issue during the course of the meeting, President Ward was encouraged by her willingness to listen to our concerns and her assurances that she and her staff would look into the matter in greater detail.
The APFA Safety Department would once again like to remind Flight Attendants to monitor the SSI Web site for the very latest security information. This site is accessible only through the Flight Service Web site.
In Washington, D.C., there has been movement on a number of issues before Congress that affect the airline industry. The Senate passed the FAA Reauthorization bill last Friday. This bill contains, among other things, provisions for Flight Attendant certification. The APFA and other Flight Attendant unions have worked diligently to get certification passed for many years. Certification will provide the position of Flight Attendant with a new level of professionalism and recognition. The proficiency that will be required for certification is the same as all Flight Attendants must demonstrate each year during annual recurrent training. No medical or physical requirements are included. There will be much more on certification in the coming months from the APFA Health and Safety Departments and our legislative representative in Washington. The FAA Reauthorization bill was passed with language that mandates that the Transportation Security Administration oversee the air carrier security training for Flight Attendants, but only to approve the training and not actually design it. This was a very big disappointment to the APFA in that we lobbied with other unions to have this training mandatory and designed and overseen by the TSA.
Late last week, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would relieve airlines of additional contributions to pension plans required as a result of chronic underfunding, which are over and above the required contributions made on a regular basis, for a period of two years. Such payments are sometimes referred to as "Catch Up" contributions. It would also change the way companies calculate whether their pensions are adequately funded by replacing the 30-year Treasury bond rate as a benchmark. United has pushed for this modification due to the fact it will save airlines literally hundreds of millions of dollars annually. The Senate began discussing this legislation this week. It is expected that the Senate will continue their effort to pass a bill on pension relief when they return from their holiday recess. Although the changes contained in this legislation will not affect the defined pension plan for Flight Attendants at American, the APFA will continue to monitor the issue for any potential long-term impact.
The Department of Labor has approved a federal grant request by the State of Missouri. The $7.4 million grant will help dislocated airline employees in Missouri with access to new-skills training, transportation expenses, child-care expenses, counseling and career planning. APFA fully endorsed the State of Missouri grant request. Worker's can call 1-877-872-5627 for additional information.
Retirement seminars have been scheduled for LGA, JFK, and SFO during the month of December. The following are a list of scheduled seminars:
December 4th SFO 1100 Mezzanine Level
December 10th JFK 1400 and 1600 Group Room, 2nd Floor by General Manager's Office
December 11th JFK 0900 Group Room, 2nd Floor by General Manager's Office
December 11th LGA 1300 and 1500 3rd Floor Flight Service Training Room
December 12th LGA 1000 3rd Floor Flight Service Training Room
Recently there has been a marked increase in solar flare activity. The APFA has joined the APA, AMR Medical, and Flight Service to discuss the proper company-wide response to such activity. What is important to understand is that cosmic radiation exposure is cumulative. Pregnant women exposed to such radiation are advised to limit further exposure for the remainder of their pregnancy. The March 2003 or Volume 6, Issue 3 of Skyword contains a very important article on the effects of radiation during pregnancy. Additional information on this issue solar activity can be found at www.faa.gov and www.spaceweather.com.
A survey on public civility conducted by the Public Agenda has been posted on the APFA Web site under Hot Topics. Public Agenda has invited the APFA membership to participate in this survey. The results of the survey will be used to help educate the media and the traveling public on what the front line transportation employees are subjected to each day.
In Industry News:
American and Delta were selected as the top two favorite airlines in a recent survey by Decision Analyst, Inc. The same survey shows that the price of an airline ticket has now become the most important factor when choosing an airline and a flight.
American announced on Wednesday that it would begin new service between DFW and Ixtapa and Cozumel, Mexico on January 31, 2004.
Flight Attendants at Northwest have elected Guy Meek as President of the Professional Flight Attendants Association, their newly formed independent union. Mr. Meek is a long time union advocate who began his career with North Central Airlines in 1974. We look forward to working with PFAA on issues that affect Flight Attendants.
United announced this week that a contentious relationship with regional carrier Atlantic Coast Airlines, complex aircraft leasing negotiations, municipal bond litigation, various legal claims against the airline, and an underfunded pension are among the issues that may delay the airlines exit from bankruptcy. United had hoped to emerge from bankruptcy by the end of this year. The timeline was moved to mid-2004, which is now questionable.
Delta Air Lines CEO Leo Mullins announced his retirement this week. Gerald Grinstein, formerly of Western Airlines and a member of the Delta Board since 1987, will takeover the position on January 1, 2004. Meanwhile, Pilots at Delta have concluded an updated analysis of the airline's financial condition and have concluded the airline needs concessions in order to deal with its current and future financial needs. Delta and its Pilots are scheduled to meet this week to continue talks on pay and work rule concessions.
For more airline industry news, please visit the News and Events page of the APFA Web site.
The APFA offices will be closed on Thursday, November 27th and Friday, November 28th in observance of Thanksgiving. An officer on duty will be available to assist Flight Attendants with emergencies. If you have an emergency during this time, please follow the voice prompts carefully in order to contact the officer on duty. All calls of a non-emergency nature will be routed to the appropriate department or representative for response during business hours.
Again, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.
That is it for this edition of the APFA Hotline. Please visit the web site for the latest information and past editions of the hotline.
There are 6,150 American Airlines Flight Attendants currently on furlough.