This is Rick Musica, APFA Legislative Affairs Task Force, and this is the APFA Hotline for Friday, May 13th, 2005.
On Wednesday, May 11th, approximately 140 flight attendants descended on Capitol Hill to lobby Congress on fatigue, pension protection, and the jet fuel crisis. It was one of the best showings we have ever had in Washington DC! On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to personally thank those flight attendants who made the sacrifice and came to DC to be a part of something very special. As many of you are aware from the media coverage, May 11th was not your ordinary day at the Capitol. Your colleagues were right in the middle of the full scale evacuation that occurred around noon on Wednesday. Despite the interruption, in true flight attendant fashion, we pressed on and had a hugely successful day!
Your National Officers met with several key Congressional members throughout the day to outline our positions on the issues that affect you. Many of our FA's were able to meet with their own Representatives and tell their own personal tales of what it takes to be an American Airlines FA in today's world. As our teams made their way throughout the Capitol, there was no mistaking who we were. The feedback that we have been receiving has been outstanding! One of the best compliments we received was actually from American Airlines Government Affairs Vice-President Will Ris who commended our professionalism and dedication.
To demonstrate the effect we have when we assemble as a group, I will use the Dear Colleague letter from Representative Mike Honda (D-CA-15th) as an example. The Honda letter is a request to the House Appropriations Committee seeking additional funding for a flight attendant fatigue study. When the day started, there were 73 signatures on the letter from members of the House of Representatives. After our Lobby Day, that number has swelled to 139. A final tally and list of all those House members who signed on will be available after the letter has closed out and been delivered to the House Appropriations Committee. It will also be posted on the APFA website. So, as you see, our lobbying efforts do pay off. A big thanks also goes to those FA's who contacted their representatives via Capwiz to urge support for the Honda letter.
Our day concluded with a rally on the terrace of the Cannon Building with our very special guest, Congressman Mike Honda, the author of the Dear Colleague letter. Mr. Honda expressed his thanks for everything you do day in and day out to keep our skies safe.
So, as you can see, our Lobby Day on the Hill was a complete success. Please plan on joining us next month as we try to build on the success of May 11th.
I'd like to thank my team, Joan Wages, Anne Lowe, and Yvonne Johnston, for their extraordinary efforts in making this event such a success! And finally, a very special thanks to our 4 ORD based FA's who braved a weather session, aborted landing, and full governmental evacuation, all before noon, and on their day off, to be a part of what we accomplished. Judging by their smiles at the end of the day, it seems like it was worth the effort!
I hope to see you in Washington DC!
Please stay tuned for the rest of this weeks Hotline.
This is Leslie Mayo, APFA Communications Coordinator, with the rest of the hotline for the week of May 13.
Please remember our 4,211 furloughed members and the 12 APFA Flight Attendants serving full-time in the armed forces. The reduced number of furloughs is due to attrition.
On Tuesday, bankruptcy Judge Eugene Wedoff authorized United Airlines to dump its four pension plans, shifting $5 billion in pension obligations to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. as a way of reducing costs. United employees and retirees stand to lose one third to one half of their contractual retirement benefits while CEO Glen Tilton's 4.5 million dollar pension remains secure. On Wednesday, United returned to the courtroom in an attempt to expand its cost-cutting by unilaterally rewriting two of its union contracts. United has concessionary agreements in place with Flight Attendants and pilots through 2010 but has been unable to reach agreements with the mechanics' and machinists' unions. The company resumed talks with the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association on Wednesday and is set to hold a bargaining session with the IAM next week. But, that did not stop the company from appealing to the judge to have these contracts rewritten without either union's consent unless deals can be reached in the next few days.
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers announced its members have voted by a 94 percent majority this month to authorize a strike if United succeeds in unilaterally imposing new contract terms. The IAM represents baggage handlers and public contact workers.
APFA condemns the decision of Judge Wedoff to deprive United Airlines employees of their negotiated pension benefits and decries UAL management's efforts to abrogate their contractual obligations through the courts.
Just a reminder that phase two of the APFA membership opinion survey is in full swing on the APFA website. Go to www.apfa.org and click on the survey link. All members in good standing, including furloughed flight attendants, are encouraged to fill out the survey to make your voices heard!
The Senate Homeland Security Committee Chair Susan Collins has agreed to remove the provision that would have allowed foreign carriers to bid to carry U.S. mail on foreign routes. Thanks to all APFA members who sent letters and made phone calls. Our efforts were successful in preventing foreign carriers from taking away business from U.S. air carriers and jeopardizing $100 million a year revenue at American.
On June 22, 2005, APFA members can take part in a company-wide Fly-In to Washington, D.C., to lobby legislators on critical issues that impact AA employees and the success of our company. Management will be joining all three labor groups on our property in this critical effort to have our concerns addressed in Washington. More information will be available on the APFA website and on this hotline as details become known.
From the APFA Safety Dept: Agents from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division of Homeland Security seized more than 1,300 "high-quality counterfeit" badges from 35 different federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. Among the fakes nabbed by ICE are those resembling badges of the FBI, Secret Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, New York Police Department and even the Federal Air Marshal Service; the agency assigned to protect commercial air travel. ICE is asking the public to be on the alert and to report anyone "displaying, using or distributing" phony badges.
The American Spirit Award is presented to recognize Flight Attendants who demonstrate professionalism, leadership and teamwork during an emergency event. The APFA Safety Department, in conjunction with AA Flight Service, helps to select the recipients of this special award. We are pleased to present the American Spirit Award to the IMA based Flight Attendant crew of Flt. # 908, a 777 from EZE to MIA, on March 11, 2005. This flight aborted takeoff after experiencing a right hand engine failure and fire. The F/As evacuated a full airplane in just over 60 seconds using only half of the exits. Congratulations and thank you to LEONEL ALVAREZ, ELAINE KLIMENKO, HERIBERTO GONZALEZ, CAROLYN HARBERT, RICKI YADRON, CLAIRE SANCHEZ, WHITNEY PARHAM, IVONNE GONZALEZ, MARIE JORGENSEN, SUSAN LANCTOT and KRISTEN VITOLS for being Safety Professionals.
Effective June 1, 2005, the Rio layover hotel will be changed. Please see the secure section of the website for the new hotel information. A move for LHR short layovers will take place beginning July 1, 2005. Information on the new property may also be found in the secure section of the website.
From the Scheduling Department: Crew Planning will limit three-day pairings on the June bidsheets from 6/29 through 7/1 to reduce schedule conflicts from June into July. The hope is that this will improve manning between the two months and result in fewer reschedules and reassignments for line holders.
Don't forget we have the option of requesting short-call makeup flying. Flight Attendants who are at or near the airport, wish to do same-day flying, and qualify for makeup may request "short-call makeup." This type of makeup will be used only for trips that open with fewer than three hours prior to departure. After placing yourself on the makeup list, you may add your name to the short-call list. The computer will only allow you to input the current day - future dates will not be accepted. To add your name to the short-call makeup list, type HISCM/BASE/DATE/A in your personal mode. To delete your name, type HISCM/BASE/DATE/D.
Do you know that the Purser Flexibility Test launched recently addresses increased flexibility for ALL Flight Attendants? Trip Trade with Open Time incorporates a variable buffer which formerly limited the difference between the trip dropped and the trip picked up to one hour. That buffer has been expanded to two hours for all flight attendants which should increase everyone's ability to trade with open time.
In other industry news this week, Northwest flight 1495, a DC-9 inbound from Columbus, OH, to Minneapolis, MN, experienced hydraulic problems while on final approach. The aircraft landed safely; however, while taxiing to the gate the DC-9 lost control and collided with Northwest flight 1849, an A319 bound for San Antonio, TX. The Flight Attendants immediately initiated an emergency evacuation. Slides were deployed and the aircraft was quickly evacuated. As testament to the crew, only very minor passenger injuries were sustained. The Flight Attendants were all taken to a local hospital, treated and released. One of the cockpit crewmembers remains hospitalized.
Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly admitted this week that the company is facing tougher competition from its rivals. Kelly stated that the discount airline will find savings of "hundreds of millions" by becoming even more efficient. According to Kelly, Southwest may increase fares or attempt to negotiate more "modest" labor contracts. The airline is also working toward the repeal of the Wright Amendment by launching a Web site asking travelers to help fight the law, which limits flights at Dallas Love Field, a change that AA vehemently opposes.
That's it for this week. Thanks for calling the APFA hotline.