This is Tommie Hutto-Blake, APFA President. Today is Friday, December 10th, and you have reached the APFA Weekly Hotline.

 

On Tuesday, December 14th, your APFA officers along with other APFA representatives will be a part of a candle light vigil and march showing our solid support for the United and US Airways Flight Attendants. The flight attendants of America feel helpless as we watch these two companies tell their separate bankruptcy courts that they intend to abrogate contacts and terminate pension plans without consequence. AFA - CWA, representing the United and USAir flight attendants, have urged each and every union representing our profession to come forward and stand together in protest. We look forward to this Flight Attendant solidarity gathering as we stand shoulder to shoulder across from the White House in protest to these announced actions by the United and USAir executives.

 

There is some good news from Washington, DC this week. President Bush just signed into law the Omnibus Bill and within this bill is an appropriated $200,000 for a flight attendant fatigue study. This piece of legislation shows that there is concern about evidence that FAA minimum crew rest regulations may not allow adequate rest time for flight attendants. APFA fully intends to have an impact on and be involved with this study.

 

As announced in last week's hotline, a letter is being mailed to all current members who are also former APFA national officers and/or candidates for national office in the most recent national election. They will be receiving an invitation from the current national officers to join in a Leader's Summit next month at APFA Headquarters. The purpose of this summit is to offer a facilitated discussion regarding the important issues that currently face labor, the airline industry, and flight attendants in particular. I look forward to this process. It is my hope that these discussions will lead to a more cooperative spirit among APFA activists, mobilizing us to work toward the collective interest of all of the 25,000 APFA members.

 

In closing, during this last week I have personally heard from many flight attendants who had strong feelings about the recent Federal Court decision dismissing a lawsuit challenging the AA/APFA 2001 Seniority Integration Agreement. Quite frankly, as the APFA President, it is a relief that we have put one of our divisive disputes behind us. This issue is certainly not the only subject on which we share a wide variety of viewpoints, but this one has now been decided by a neutral party - a Federal District Court Judge.

 

APFA has a long and colorful history. In our past, we have had both internal and external disputes that took our focus, time, and treasury years to resolve. This is one more dispute that, for now, is behind us.

 

We need to make our Union stronger - not further divided. Our very diverse workgroup gives us much potential strength. We need to find ways to work together - not separately.

 

There is no doubt APFA has huge challenges ahead of us in this turbulent industry of ours. I believe we will have a far better chance in reaching our goal of protecting and preserving our contract by resolving to maintain a collective focus. I challenge the activists in the field to assist in this process. I urge you to be a part of the solution not a part of the problem. There is a place for everyone's input and ideas. A collective plan is our primary goal. Become a part of this process.

 

And now for the remainder for today's hotline - Leslie…

 

This is Leslie Mayo with the rest of the APFA Hotline.

 

As Tommie mentioned in her Hotline, Flight Attendants will be gathering from many different airlines and unions to stand as one voice in defense of our Contracts and our Pensions. There is strength in numbers and we must make ourselves heard in Washington, D.C. Please wear your uniform and meet your fellow APFA members at 5:00 p.m. at the Hay-Adams hotel across the street from Lafayette Park at 16th and H Streets, NW in Washington. We will then proceed together to Lafayette Park and begin a candlelight vigil at 5:15 with AFA-CWA, TWU and other airline unions before proceeding to the White House. The hotel is two blocks from the McPherson Square Metro Stop. This is not just an issue for United or USAir - we must rally in support of the preservation of all airline workers' benefits, pensions and pay.

 

If you are unable to attend the march in Washington, D.C., and happen to be in Seattle on the 14th, there will be a rally at the Seattle airport from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at the flag pavilion entrance.

 

Beginning the first week of December, the AA medical airport clinics will be nurse only clinics. These clinics will be available for tympanograms, first aid cases, and DOT drug and alcohol testing only. The nurses will no longer see employees for personal illness or injury. They cannot fill out Family Leave paperwork, as there are no doctors on site.

 

Benefit enrollment information was mailed to Flight Attendants recalled on November 17th this past week. The letter details specific enrollment information and deadlines for 2004 and 2005 benefits. Employee Services should be able to assist you if you are experiencing problems with enrollment.

 

In rumor control this week, one flight attendant heard on his flight that f/a's will be trained internationally and domestically at EPT's from now on so that they will be eligible to fly both operations by the end of 2005.

 

Answer: Plain and simple; not true.

 

Another rumor assumes that APFA is advocating "Wildcat Strikes" among our members in support of United and USAir's plight to protect their pay, pensions and benefits during bankruptcy.

 

Answer: APFA is not in support of any violation of our Current Bargaining Agreement. Please review Article 33 of our CBA for clarification if you should have any questions. APFA members participating in informational picketing and candlelight vigils on your time off is a perfectly acceptable practice. Walking off the job in an unauthorized job action is not.

 

United Airlines is making history. Yesterday was the two year anniversary of its filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. And not only was it the largest airline bankruptcy ever, but if they succeed in defaulting on their pension obligations, it will be the largest pension default in history, as well. The DOL issued a statement in the form of a brief to a bankruptcy judge this week that United Airlines must make minimum payments to support its pension plans. While United insists these pension payments should be classified "general unsecured claims" which means they are not a prerequisite to emerging from bankruptcy, the DOL insists they be deemed an "administrative priority expense." This would mean that United would be required to pay their pension payments prior to emerging from bankruptcy. United has current pension obligations to the PBGC in the amount of about $1 billion.

 

The Intelligence Bill passed both the House and the Senate this week and is awaiting President Bush's signature to become law. Thanks to all of you who sent your messages via apfa.org on CapWiz in support of this bill.

 

Please keep our 4,541 furloughed members in your thoughts as well as the 20 flight attendants currently serving full time in the armed forces.

Thank you for calling the APFA Hotline.