Dear AFA: December 09, 2014

Date: December 9, 2014
Type: Dear AFA

Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen and welcome to Dear AFA. We are a democratic, Member driven Union of Flight Attendants for Flight Attendants. Today is Tuesday, December 9, 2014 and this is Washington D.C. Council 21 Volunteer and United MEC Communication Committee Chairperson, Jeffrey Tonjes reporting.

2015 Vacation Phase III Bidding
Phase III (Tertiary) Vacation bidding will close on December 10, 2013 at 0830 local domicile time.  Phase III bid awards will be posted no later than December 11, 2013.

For more information on the 2015 Vacation Bidding process visit our website. 

United Management Reduces B767ME Staffing
On Thursday, December 4, 2014 United announced in their Inflight Services Alert their plans to reduce staffing on the B767ME aircraft in the International Markets. Prior to this announcement, with a full passenger load maximum staffing called for four (4) Flight Attendants in the premium cabin and five (5) Flight Attendants in the economy cabin.  As a result of this reduction, maximum staffing in the premium cabin is three (3) Flight Attendants, one galley, two aisle Flight Attendants one of whom is the purser.

As required by Section 4.L. of our Contract, the United Master Executive Council Officers met with management representatives from Inflight Services to review the standards being used in making this determination. During this meeting we expressed our concerns about this short-sighted staffing change at a time when management is spending millions of dollars in making Customer Service Training a requirement and the ongoing push for Flight Attendants to “Be the Brand” and to “Be Consistent.” 

We discussed the unique challenges associated with the aircraft configuration in the premium cabin and reviewed the already identified safety issues associated with delivering the level of service passengers expect.  In addition, we told management that “locking” the purser into an aisle position on this aircraft was ill advised and would only serve to further reduce the crew’s overall effectiveness in responding and solving passenger service issues on any given flight.

While this staffing reduction does not go into effect until January 2015, we are already hearing from many of you of your disappointment with this decision and your ongoing concerns that management appears to be out of touch with passenger expectations in these premium cabins where an exceptional level of service is expected.  Who, you ask, is making these decisions?

The decision to reduce staffing onboard the aircraft is a management decision. However, when a staffing reduction in combination with the service required, the serving time and number of passengers creates a marginal service condition where the Flight Attendant crew cannot complete their work assignments as per standard practices and within allotted times, the Company is required to act expeditiously to investigate the problems.  Further, “fixing” any staffing deficiency brought about by this change in staffing, including the unauthorized modification to the scheduled services, is not a Flight Attendant responsibility.  Flight Attendants in the purser position are required to ensure your Contractual right to onboard rest is not compromised and planning to do so as a means of completing the scheduled services is not within the scope of pursers’ authority.

While it may be inconvenient to do so, we need for each of you to complete the Marginal Service Report available from the United MEC website.  Provide us with specific information on how the reduction in staffing is adversely impacting passenger safety and/or service on the flight.  It’s not a matter of indicating “We had eight (8) Flight Attendants” because that’s the company new “gold standard”.  What we need for you to provide is how the reduction affected the service and tell us how this impacted the passengers, lengthened the service or created other safety or service concerns.  All perspectives are helpful in assessing the impact of the change.

With your help we will be closely monitoring this change in the staffing levels on this aircraft and if the staffing reduction creates a circumstance where marginal service conditions exist, the language in our Contract provides us with the mechanism to address and effect a change in the outcome not only for ourselves but, more importantly, for the passengers in our care.

Update Travel Eligibles for 2015
Eligible employees and retirees have the opportunity to update their elections for enrolled friend, spouse or domestic partner beginning December 10th through December 29th at 7:00 PM CST. You are not required to re-enroll anyone who is currently listed on your travel profile in one of these categories unless you wish to make changes that will become effective next year.

Additional information is available from the Travel section of the company’s website under Enrolled Friend. To update your elections, go to the company’s website then Employee Services > My Info > Pass Riders.

Last year a new category of pass rider, primary friend, was introduced to enable employees who do not have a spouse or domestic partner listed on their travel profile to select another individual who would board at the same boarding priority as the spouse or domestic partner.  This election can be made in your Employee Profile on United’s employeeRES starting January 1, 2015. 

These elections should not be confused with the company’s recent announcement requiring us to register regular buddies and to accompany them for travel outside of the 48 contiguous United States as these changes become effective in 2015 and are not part of this enrollment period for travel eligibles.

Uniform Name Bar
In August of 2013, an MEC Grievance (MEC 6-13) was filed when the company issued new name bars to Flight Attendants for the new uniform and unilaterally chose to use the names that were listed on the TSA Crew Badge rather than affording Flight Attendants the opportunity to choose the name by which they would be referred to while on the aircraft, including any registered alias.

In full resolution of the dispute, AFA and the company have reached an agreement that will provide those Flight Attendants who had a nickname in the FDMS screen or an approved alias on file as of March 1, 2013 and who did not receive name bars with the alias or nickname with the ability to order replacement name bars at company expense through December 15, 2014.  You can access the name bar order form from the link on the home page of 

We have received a number of questions from those Flight Attendants who are also purser qualified seeking information as to how to request the different name bars required by the company’s appearance standards.  Purser qualified Flight Attendants are issued two different name bars.  Uniform standards require that purser name bars have a first and last name on them while name bars for those not working in the purser position require only a first name.    We have confirmed with management that those reviewing and processing the name bar requests will be watching for those Flight Attendants who are also purser qualified and are anticipating that they will receive two (2) separate requests – one for the purser name bar and the other for the Flight Attendant name bar – for these individuals.

Joint Negotiations Session Continues in Chicago This Week
Joint Negotiations continue this week in Chicago. The Joint Negotiations Committee (JNC) is expected to provide an update through the OurUnited newsletter next Friday after this session. All JNC updates can be found on the JNC website at  If you are not signed-up to receive the OurUnited Newsletter please do so also on 

That’s all for tonight and thank you for calling.

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