UA AFA Code-A-Phone Update - October 4

C

chipmunn

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[H1][FONT face=Times New Roman size=4]Update AFA Transcript[/FONT][/H1][FONT face=Times New Roman size=3]CHICAGO - It's Friday, October 4th, and this is Update AFA. This is United AFA Master Executive Council Communication Chairperson Sara Dela Cruz reporting. [/FONT][BR][BR][FONT face=Times New Roman size=3]The United Airlines Union Coalition continues to work diligently to avoid a bankruptcy filing and protect the best interests of the front-line employees. Communication is constant and constructive with our CEO Glenn Tilton as we work to settle United’s financial crisis out of court. The AFA Financial Review Committee and the Master Executive Council continue to work in the best interests of United Flight Attendants. Time pressures and perceived deadlines will not affect the decisions made in relation to Flight Attendant jobs and our Contract. Remember that we are industry average paid workers, the only group with such a distinction -- and we would not be in any of these discussions if there were not acknowledgement of that by the other work groups. [/FONT][BR][BR][FONT face=Times New Roman][FONT size=3]The MEC has been resolute in committing that as soon as details are available, those details will be broadcast to the AFA Membership. All available communication vehicles will be used to provide the AFA Membership all information needed to make an informed decision for our collective future. Ultimately, Membership ratification will decide the outcome of any Flight Attendant participation in a United Airlines recovery plan. [/FONT][/FONT][BR][BR][FONT face=Times New Roman size=3]We have heard concern from some Members regarding the approved code-share agreement with US Airways. The Code-share agreement with US Airways is projected to produce a couple $100 million of revenue each year. This is good news for us especially considering United’s current financial condition. The code-share agreement between the carriers is similar to the agreements held with the other carriers in the Star Alliance. Due to the fragile state of the US airline industry, any airline including United, is ripe for a take-over. Conversely, due to the fragile state of the US airline industry, US airlines do not have discretionary income for the purchase or merge of another airline. Finally, in the event of another merger attempt, United and US Airways would be subject to the same scrutiny during the 2000/2001 attempted merger. [/FONT][BR][BR][FONT face=Times New Roman size=3]The Department of Transportation did place restrictions on the agreement that are not limited to but include saying that the airlines cannot code-share local traffic on routes where both offer nonstop service, such as Philadelphia-Los Angeles. More information can found at the Department of Transportation's website, [/FONT][A href=http://www.dot.gov/][FONT face=Times New Roman size=3]www.dot.gov[/FONT][/A][FONT face=Times New Roman size=3]. [/FONT]
 

ualdriver

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Aug 20, 2002
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The AFA leadership/membership love to point out that they are only making industry average wages. Unfortunately, I don't think that is the whole story and this is why I'm not buying it entirely.....

1) Does anyone know, as fact, what for example a 12 yr f/a at United makes vs. his/her peers at Delta, American, Southwest, Northwest, and Continental? I'd love to know what that contractual wage is vs. their peers simply because I don't think it's as low as the United AFA makes it out to be.

2) Is the AFA placing any value on the very nice UAL work rules that United f/a's enjoy vs. some of their industry average peers (i.e. extra pay for holidays, birthdays, international pay, rest rules similar to pilots', etc.,etc.)? After having talked to the flight attendant defectors from Continental, American, and Northwest when we were hiring, they felt that United had the best pay and work rules in the industry, and voted with their feet and came over here!

3) I know that UAL f/a's get a retirement from United after some amount of years. I don't think f/a's get a retirement at Southwest or any of the other airlines for that matter- but correct me if I am wrong. Is the value of that retirement counted in the AFA's often vaunted industry average wages?

I'm not trying to stir the pot, just seeking facts as I can only infer the above through talking to f/a's over the years. I just don't think the AFA can honestly claim industry average wages when there are many other things that make up a very nice, ahem, industry average contract. Is there any flight attendant group in the industry that has a better TOTAL deal than UA's flight attendants?
 

Bear96

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Aug 20, 2002
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Hi ualdriver,

To answer your questions: The AFA/UAL industry leading concept you are hearing about now derives from contractual language concerning our annual wage and compensation review. The formula is spelled out in the contract but basically work rules ARE considered along with hourly pay rates to establish an industry average among AA, DL, NW, US, and WN. Last year during the compensation review a neutral arbitrator, as part of the process spelled out in the contract, ruled that UAL's F/A total compensation costs were $48 million below this industry average figure.

A few years ago F/As were indeed coming over to UA from other carriers because we did have the best work rules and about the best pay in the industry. However in the past couple of years, though I think we have managed to retain the best work rules, our pay rates have slipped. At some points in the pay scale, our hourly pay rates are now significantly behind DL and AA.

Though I don't know the details of them, retirement plans for F/As is common among all major airlines, including WN.

Hope that answers your questions.
 

magsau

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Aug 20, 2002
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I believe the selected text that was highlighted by the post originator is language that would be found in any type of communication with a union. It does not bode well for a union to say we are giving the company whatever they want and you guys should all brace for impact That is not what all the dues paying members want to hear.


The AFA, according to sources inside this mess, have actually been making a strong prescence at the table and are using a common sense approach to their negotiations. A code-a-phone message is directed at the members of an association and generally ment for public consumption. In fact the AFA code=a-phone is a password protected system that only its members should have access to. It would be a good idea to remember the target audience for this type of communication and take all conclusions derived by outsiders with a grain of salt (including mine I suppose) as this is NOT something that is cast in stone or ink. Only a tool to communicate with the rank and file flight attendants.
 

767jetz

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Aug 20, 2002
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[P]
[BLOCKQUOTE][BR]----------------[BR]On 10/6/2002 1:53:06 PM Bear96 wrote:
[P]The formula is spelled out in the contract but basically work rules ARE considered along with hourly pay rates to establish an industry average among AA, DL, NW, US, and WN.  Last year during the compensation review a neutral arbitrator, as part of the process spelled out in the contract, ruled that UAL's F/A total compensation costs were $48 million below this industry average figure.[BR][BR]A few years ago F/As were indeed coming over to UA from other carriers because we did have the best work rules and about the best pay in the industry.  However in the past couple of years, though I think we have managed to retain the best work rules, our pay rates have slipped.  At some points in the pay scale, our hourly pay rates are now significantly behind DL and AA.[BR][BR]Though I don't know the details of them, retirement plans for F/As is common among all major airlines, including WN.[/P]
[P] [/P]
[P]Bear96,[/P]
[P]I am assuming that after the last compensation review, the F/A's received a raise that brought you up to industry average pay rates based on the rules of your contract. I'm wondering what the industry average is now based on the pay cuts taken at US, and where does UA stands currently? Also, when is your next compensation review due?[/P]
[P]As for ualdriver's comments about the total package, do I understand you correctly, that UA's pay rates have slipped behind DL and AA, but not NW, US, or WN? And that the work rules here are still better than elsewhere?[/P]
[P]I'd be interested to know what some of the work rule and retirement benefits are that UA F/A's enjoy and your couterparts elsewhere do not. Also wondering if you have any examples of the pay rates of a 12-15yr F/A At UA, US, AA both internationally and domestically.[/P]
[P]Also not trying to stir the pot, just gather info/facts.[/P]
[P] [/P]
[P]767jetz[BR][BR][/P][/BLOCKQUOTE]
[P][/P]
 

Bear96

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Aug 20, 2002
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magsau,

Actually while it is true that many code-a-phone type messages are meant only for members of that orgnization, the UAL/AFA's message has also served as their voice to the general public. There is a password-protected phone number but that is just to access the toll-free number so members don't have to pay. The password started to become necessary when AFA realized many of the callers were calling from (847)700-XXXX (that is, WHQ) numbers! But even then, if you did not provide a password a regular toll number was provided for people who were not UAL F/As who wanted to hear the message.

Now the public can go to the UAL MEC website's home page (www.unitedafa.org) and just click on the Update AFA for the transcripts of the phone message. It is in a non-restricted area of the website.
 

Bear96

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Aug 20, 2002
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Hi jetz,

I am assuming that after the last compensation review, the F/A's received a raise that brought you up to industry average pay rates based on the rules of your contract. I'm wondering what the industry average is now based on the pay cuts taken at US, and where does UA stands currently? Also, when is your next compensation review due?

The last pay review (earlier this year) was based on 2001 figures, and led to the award by the arbitrator this year. The process is repeated each spring so the next review is scheduled to be in the spring of 2003 and based on the 2002 compensation at the applicable carriers. It is an annual process and what is industry average (in the terms of our contract) changes from year to year. And remember it is not based on just hourly flight pay rates. Who knows what next years' review will bring, or if we will even have one-- it could be on the table to be eliminated in the talks that are currently going on.


...do I understand you correctly, that UA's pay rates have slipped behind DL and AA, but not NW, US, or WN? And that the work rules here are still better than elsewhere?

...Also wondering if you have any examples of the pay rates of a 12-15yr F/A At UA, US, AA both internationally and domestically.

I am not sure about NW or WN. I have seen the figures for DL and AA and I know our hourly wage rates are behind those, which is why I commented on them. The others I am not sure of except for U which is currently less. At UAL the hourly flight pay rates at 12 years are currently (since the arbitrator's award this year after the compensation review) $43.39 for domestic and $47.73 for international; at 15 years, $45.02 domestic and $48.87 international.

At USAirways the wage rates were (before their concessions) $43.18--$46.18--$44.81--$47.81 repectively; and are now $38.78--$41.78--$40.24--$43.24. DL is a bit more complicated since they get paid differently for the first 50 hours of the month (when the rates are $42.98 domestically and $44.98 international for both 12 and 15 years as they max out at 12) as compared to hours over 50 (when it is $60.31 domestic and $62.31 international). I don't have the AA rates handy but they are currently higher than UAL-- maybe their contract is on the APFA website if you want to check.


...And that the work rules here are still better than elsewhere?

I'd be interested to know what some of the work rule and retirement benefits are that UA F/A's enjoy and your couterparts elsewhere do not.

Well, it's only my opinion that our work rules are the best. AA F/As seem to think their rules are superior; U F/As seem to think theirs are. As you know it is very difficult to compare such things as work rules, and maybe each group has been successful in implementing those things that are most important for that particular group, so maybe to each group theirs are truly the best. But our wage review seems to spell out a way to quantify such rules fairly objectively and reached the conclusion that taken as a whole with pay rates, we were lacking in 2001.


Also not trying to stir the pot, just gather info/facts.

Yeah, based on your previous posts here a couple of months ago I have no doubt about that.

If you are itching to make a point, just go ahead and do so.

As an interesting aside, today's NY Times article about UAL in their business section reports that UAL pilots lead the industry in pay by far, with an average annual salary (as of Sept. 19) of $129,000 after five years and maxing out at $306,000. That is ahead of #2 DL ($117K/$263K repsectively), and well ahead of AA ($97K/$212K) and U ($110K/$203K).

Not that I'm trying to stir the pot, of course.
 

ualdriver

Veteran
Aug 20, 2002
509
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Bear96-

Nope, not trying to stir the pot. After having read or heard the AFA proclaim we make industry average wages for the 100th time, I just started thinking: 1)What is exactly industry average for a major airline f/a? and 2) When a UA flight attendant's salary and benefits are the average of the highest compensated flight attendants' in the industry, just how far behind is that UA average? Unfortunately, I don't have the answer to that question with the information provided to me so far. But some of your info is a start.

I'm also just trying to figure out in my own mind what I will perceive as fair if I'm going to be voting on concessions down the road. There really is no ill intention. You mentioned that, I think we have managed to retain the best work rules, and from what I have heard from those f/a's who are actually informed, I probably would agree. UAL f/a's have the best work rules, so in order to be average that means your straight hourly pay would be a little less than average, as the better work rules assumingly cost more. Therefore we would expect to see a UA f/a's hourly rate a bit below average if just looking at straight hourly rates to offset the higher work rules cost, because you stated: And remember it is not based on just hourly flight pay rates.

What the point of all of this? I just want to figure out in my own mind what I think a reasonable AFA concession will be if I get to vote on this down the road, that's all. Just like I want to figure out what a reasonable IAM concession will be. Just like I want to figure out what a fair management concession will be. Just like I want to figure out what a fair ALPA concession will look like. But instead of reading a not the whole truth but makes for interesting reading and sells newspapers NY Times article like you did to gather info, I actually went to an airline forum hoping to find someone informed on the matter with first hand knowledge of the subject. Please remind me of those previous posts of mine that were less than factual?
 

Bear96

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Aug 20, 2002
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Hi ualdriver,

Sorry for the confusion-- I think you mistook my last post-- the stirring the pot comment was directed to 767jetz, not you. A few months ago we had tangled over the issue of pay rates / work rules / etc. (At least I *think* it was 767jetz-- a lot of pilots seem to post here so I could have gotten the handle wrong. (Maybe it WAS you I am thinking of after all!) I went back to verify but it looks like we can only go back to two months of archives and this was before that.)

I have no reason to doubt that you are just looking for the facts to make an informed decision when voting time comes around, which is commendable; it is something we should all be doing now.

As to the NY Times article, I certainly agree that the media often gets aviation stories wrong. However I thought the NY Times article I quoted was pretty good, and the other figures in there that I am more familiar with seemed to be correct. If you are saying the pilot figures quoted are not, I would be interested in hearing what the correct figures are? And if they are distorting (if that is what you are saying) UA's pilot figures, are the OAL pilot figures accurate?

Anyway, again, sorry for the confusion about the stirring the pot article. The debates can get heated here so please don't think I was lobbing a shot across your bow already!
 

Bear96

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Aug 20, 2002
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Hi ualdriver,

I certainly am not in a position to dispute all of the little details you bring up about the NY Times article, though I am sure someone from UAL management familiar with the pilot contract would not agree with your points. But my point was not to defend the article (I like you am no friend of media airline analysts); rather my point in quoting the article, which you are helping me make, was:

I knew some pilots here would take exception with the figures I quoted. I am sure you expect other work groups to keep points like the ones you make here in mind when pilot comensation is discussed-- fair enough. I would like to ask that in return, you keep in mind that other work groups too have a lot of small issues are not amenable to straightforward apples to apples comparisons, and other details (such as contract amendable dates and negotiations by the same work groups at other airlines, as you mentioned with the AA pilots' situation-- and BTW we have not had a new contract in years either) that cannot be fully appreciated except by people in those work groups.

Each work group could go round and round in an endless cycle of we shouldn't have to take a big hit as the other work groups because of reason X, Y, and Z in the current negotiations. That really gets us nowhere so I hope that is not happening at the negotiating table right now, and I hope we won't let it derail any membership ratification efforts once we get to that point.

(Finally I am not sure what you meant by: It would be like comparing 12 year international f/a pay at UAL with 12 year domestic f/a pay with an airline that doesn't fly international and using that difference as an argument in pay disparity. I think that IS an unfair pay disparity that should be corrected, as domestic and international F/As do basically the same work. In some ways international flying can be considered harder and so the pay difference can be justified; in many other cases, domestic flying can be considered harder so the pay difference is really an insult to F/As flying only domestic. But this probably isn't relevant to the issues being discussed in this thread so I don't want to get off topic.)
 

ualdriver

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Aug 20, 2002
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Yes, the NY Times BEAR96 quotes are inaccurate in the sense it is not the whole truth.

1) Top pay is off by 7% in the newspaper selling direction for an airline captain flying the largest airliner currently in existence in the U.S. over some of the most desolate regions in the world after having spent about 35 years reaching that point. The figure quoted is made by a very small number of pilots, and in my opinion the average UAL pilot will never see that salary.

2) It is not an apples to apples comparison when you compare UAL top pay, an airline that flies the 747-400, currently the highest pay scale in the industry since it is the largest aircraft in the industry, with an airline like Delta that flies a 777 as its largest airplane, an airplane that is smaller than the 747-400 and therefore pays less. It would be like comparing 12 year international f/a pay at UAL with 12 year domestic f/a pay with an airline that doesn't fly international and using that difference as an argument in pay disparity.

3) DAL's pilot pay rates, apples to apples, are currently a few percentange points higher than UAL's as their contract is newer.

4) Using U pay scales, pilot or other, is not an apples to apples comparison to anything but the FUTURE, as we all know how those rates were arrived at.

5) AA pilots haven't had a new contract in years, and their payscales reflect that. Delta and United's are newer. To use their payrates in any discussion is not an apples to apples comparison.

Two little sentences, 5 disparities that I've come up with. As you can imagine, I'm not a big fan of those so called airline analysts in the newspaper industry unless the facts can be corroborated. That other NY times article referred to in another thread is extremely misleading as well but makes for selling newspapers.
 

ualdriver

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Aug 20, 2002
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Bear96-

Well, if a mangement person wants to dispute them, go for it. I'm not sure which point they'd want to dispute as those statements are pretty straight forward and factual to the best of my knowledge.

My point about comparing international f/a pay at one airline with domestic f/a pay at another was an analogy to comparing top pay at one airline that flies a 777 as the largest aircraft and a 747-400 as the largest at another. The top pay statement in the NY times article is misleading. It would not be fair to take 12 yr. int'l f/a pay at UA and compare it to a domestic only airline f/a 12 yr. pay because the difference between the two would be widened by the fact that one airline has international pay and the other one has only domestic pay. A better apples to apples comparison would be to compare domestic f/a pay at one airline to domestic f/a pay at the other. Just like a better apples to apples comparison would be, for example, DAL 777 top pay vs. UAL 777 pay, not vs. UAL 747-400 pay.

Yes, I agree with you that we shouldn't go round and round trying to figure out down to the 100th of 1% as to what paycut each group should take. However, with the AFA constantly pounding into its membership heads we ONLY make industry average pay, I'm concerned that is exactly what is happening. To me, that seems like they're trying to impress upon their membership that others should be giving up much more. That's why I'm curious about just how far the AFA perceives they are behind the industry leaders. My suspicion when considering pay and work rules, that it's not much. Hence the search for factual info concerning pay rates and work rules.

And as mentioned in a previous post that I agree with, if I were king of United for a day, I'd give the IAM credit for any backpay they are undoubtedly will end up giving up. Then I'd do my best to value the ALPA, IAM, and AFA contracts to see just how far they are behind the industry leadears and give each group the appropriate percentage credit for the amount they are behind their respective industry leaders, then I'd give a flat across the board percentage pay cut to everyone until the dollar amount given up in pay and benefits equalled what we need to cut our labor costs by. The above seems fair to me, but undoubtedly it will be much more complicated than that.
 

Bear96

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Aug 20, 2002
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[blockquote]
----------------
On 10/7/2002 3:45:41 PM ualdriver wrote:

...And as mentioned in a previous post that I agree with, if I were king of United for a day, I'd give the IAM credit for any backpay they are undoubtedly will end up giving up. Then I'd do my best to value the ALPA, IAM, and AFA contracts to see just "how far" they are behind the industry leadears and give each group the appropriate percentage credit for the amount they are behind their respective industry leaders, then I'd give a flat across the board percentage pay cut to everyone until the dollar amount given up in pay and benefits equalled what we need to cut our labor costs by. The above seems fair to me, but undoubtedly it will be much more complicated than that.
----------------
[/blockquote]

Interesting concept.

But I am curious-- where was this zeal for equal percentages in pay rate changes for all work groups during the most recent contract negotiations that led to pay raises?

I know that didn't make much sense-- I am trying to phrase it without starting a war-- but what I am getting at is this. When looking at the most recent contracts ratified by AFA, ALPA, and IAM (which were completed in that order, in 1997, 2000, and 2002, repsectively), certain groups got much (MUCH) higher percentage pay raises than others. Those that got the higher percentage raises didn't seem to mind the discrepancy then.

But now that we are talking pay cuts instead, some of those same people are saying we should all accept the same percentage cuts.
 

767jetz

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Aug 20, 2002
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Hi Bear96,

If you are itching to make a point, just go ahead and do so.

Actually no, I'm not. Just gathering info. Although ualdriver thought your post was directed at him, I must say that his response was very similar to what I would have said anyway. I just want to get a better idea of fairness when it comes time to make a decision.

And yes, you are correct. It was me that you sparred with previously.


Just a quick point on average pay rates. Remember that averages are made up of extremes, so although you are payed less than AA and DL, the rates at US, WN, and NW may be low enough to keep your rates at the average or even slightly above average. But also as you said, who really knows what will happen to our agreements going forward. Annual adjustments may no longer even be a factor.

Addressing your last post, (and this is not a shot across the bow either) the disparity of percentages in pay raises during the last negotiation were due to the end of the ESOP investment period, and the disparity of the amount of contribution made during that period. In other words, as was agreed upon going into the ESOP, those that contributed most (pilots) received the largest % increase, those that contributed a bit less (mechanics) received a slightly smaller % increase, and those that contributed nothing (F/A's) received industry average as per the rules of their contract.

Similarly, I think that if we all successfully negotiate a plan that keeps us out of CH11, the groups that contribute the most will receive the larger return on the investment when times are better. (ie. stock options, raises, board representation, pay snap-backs, or what ever.)