ocal Council 171 Update – One Week To Go
December 10, 2012
Here we are less than one week to go until the voting closes on this TA. Your IAH Reps have spent countless hours in the crew room, weather room and at the town hall at the Marriott Hotel. I am sure I have seen over a thousand pilots and might have spoken to all of them
By now most of you have seen the direct mail to your house. That to me was just too close to the sales job that brought us Contract 02. If was, in my opinion, most definitely directed to the family. I feel this is inappropriate, as your MEC was committed to “No Sales Job” on this contract. Ben and I had no idea this was coming out and I can assure you I would have fought against this mailer. The same information is available on the contract web site.
Don’t let the contract talks or merger problems distract you from your day to day job. Safety is our primary concern and the Company’s number one objective. The contract voting closes at 10:00 this Saturday, December 15th. I am sure we will have the results posted shortly thereafter.
LC 171, Chairman
After a roll call vote, the current TA skated past the CALMEC by 55%/45%; indicative that this agreement does not meet muster with a significant percentage of our Pilots. In discussing and debating the merits of the agreement in Phoenix, I found no Rep, Officer or Pilot who thinks this is the deal we deserve; yet it passed both MEC’s. I doubt that one will find any voting Rep, I hope, that absolutely loves this deal. So why did it pass? It passed because we failed to bring this process to a reasonable conclusion. This TA passed because we considered “negotiation” to be our sole vehicle for achieving an industry-leading contract. It passed due to negotiating fatigue and fear, of all people, smisek,. But most-importantly, it passed because we failed to establish “unity” within the ranks. A wise American once stated, “a house divided amongst itself cannot stand”. Those words are just as true today as they were in 1858. That house appears to be our house, divided by fear of the unknown, lack of mutual support and procrastination in unifying this entire Pilot group. As for LEC 171; we have reached across the aisle since day one, we were against the methodology to achieve profit-sharing independently (a complicated issue that has not yet been fully explained to our Line-Pilots), we advocated extension of the terminable TPA provisions for the entire Pilot group, we supported and praised Captain Heppner’s request for release, we favored full furlough longevity for pay for all Pilots, we voted against the small-split methodology that excluded military, ltd and furloughed Pilots. In short, we have been advocates for all 12,505 Pilots. The aforementioned actions are matters of record. Any suggestion that the CAL Pilots do not care about the UAL Pilots plight is both flawed and misguided. Eric and I will always stand with our fellow Pilot before we side with team smisek, and our history is indicative of just that stance.
As previously stated, it is doubtful that you will find any voting Pilot who truly loves this agreement. What I’ve found is that most “yes” voters are voting “yes” due to a fear of the unknown. Fear of what Smisek might do. Fear of actions that the NMB might take if we fail to ratify; the most ridiculous of all fears in my humble opinion. This fear driving our Pilots to accept a sub-standard TA would be easily thwarted if we had a unified army of 12,505 who would refuse to submit to a whipsaw “Eastern” scenario of each other’s airline. Just so I’m clear on this one, should smisek attempt to shrink LUal in lorenzo fashion, every LCal Pilot should immediately do everything possible to show smisek that we will not stand for that and that we are a unified army of 12,505. smisek is the enemy, your fellow Pilot is not. Whether growing up on the unfriendly streets of Newark, or on a low-level through the mountains of Afghanistan, one tenant remains true, “You never, ever leave your wingman”. This is where we have failed each other, but we still have time.
In my personal interaction with Ms. Puchala, I have never once heard her indicate that we would be punished (put on ice) for not ratifying this TA. I asked the question, “What happens if we vote the TA down at the MEC level? Her answer, not to my liking, was that she considered that scenario an internal Alpa issue. She rightfully suggested that if the JNC brought a TA to the MEC that didn’t pass, then obviously a disconnect exist between the JNC and the MEC, and that we (Alpa) would have to work that out amongst ourselves. Second question, “What if the Pilots fail to ratify”? She indicated that this would get her attention. She would thereupon poll the Pilots to find out why the TA failed to ratify, and would take the appropriate action. No promises, but no threat to be iced either. Third question, “ Why do the Railroads always get full retro, but the Airlines never achieve it?” Answer, “Because you guys never demand it”.
I’d like to go on the record as being an advent supporter of Ms. Puchala and the NMB. The TA that exists before you today would be totally concessionary had it not been for NMB involvement. I truly hope you did not truly believe there was any chance of release to self-help months before a presidential election. That election is now over.
Lastly, the NMB has fulfilled their obligation to these negotiations. We needed the NMB to force the company to produce a TA that was worthy of a vote; they have accomplished that task and that vote is now before us. It took years for the company to produce an agreement worthy of a vote. I repeat…years. During that time, we struggled with leverage due to Wall Street’s favorable opinion of this merger and reminiscences of a Gordon Bethune styled team managing the world’s largest airline. The smoke has cleared and it has become obvious to Wall Street and our co-workers that jeff smisek is no Gordon Bethune and United Airlines is being grossly mismanaged by said over-paid and underperforming CEO. That same CEO arrogantly stated that labor was not needed for this merger. Now that the investors, passengers and employees realize that the Emperor (smisek) is wearing no clothes, we finally have the leverage needed to secure the industry-leading contract that we deserve. I implore you to understand that now is the time to push for an industry-leading CBA, not accept the best one that could be negotiated.
The JNC and SME’s
Our negotiators and SME’s did the absolute best job that they could do under the current circumstances to negotiate with an unmotivated party. Their job is to negotiate the best deal they can, and present that to the MEC for approval. Captains Dave Owens and Phil Otis are men of integrity, as are their teams, and have done their very best to negotiate the best TA that they could negotiate. Through their efforts, they have placed us in scoring position. It was, and now is the decision of the MEC and Pilots to decide what we do with that position. Whether we punt, field goal or go for the end zone is our decision, not the JNC’s. All SME’s and negotiators have earned my respect and appreciation. Unfortunately, negotiations only work when both parties do so in a timely and earnest fashion. I attest that smisek’s offer of 25 cents on the dollar for retro, and lagging behind the second largest airline is not earnest.
Many of you are probably curious as to how I can praise the JNC yet condemn the TA. It is my belief that the JNC had a Herculean task before them. I’ve never thought that negotiating with team smisek would achieve the desired results; they didn’t.
“Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong will be imposed upon them, and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress”
The aforementioned quote is exactly where we find ourselves today. Scope, concessionary for CAL Pilots. Scheduling, concessionary for UAL Pilots,. Retro/Signing Bonus, a bad joke for both groups equating to .25 cents on the dollar.
As your Rep, I must admit that I have a philosophical problem with considering negotiations the bitter end of this process. It is my belief that this process ends once the Pilots and company reach a deal that both parties consider acceptable. This process does not end once the JNC has negotiated what the company is willing to dole out. I think that the JNC’s job is to negotiate, that’s all. I think that a Reps job is to represent you, that’s all. The NC negotiated the best deal they could. When those goals did not measure up to your guidance (retro and industry leading) Eric and I represented you by voting NO. It is now in your hands and I remain available to fight with you until your desired contract is achieved.
As your Rep, I have never heard the company threaten to “Easternize” the LUal Pilots. I don’t think the NMB would be accepting of such a change in status quo. Personally, I would rather resign from this company if I flew one pairing that had been stolen from my LUal brethren in order to bolster LCal flying. To repeat, I would rather resign than fly smisek’s aircraft to the detriment of our LUal brethren. In addition, I feel that ALL LCal and LUal Pilots deserve their full pay longevity for furlough and disagree with paragraph 4 of LOA 25.
I left a 767 F/O position at USAways to come to Cal as a new-hire in 2005. What impressed me upon commencement of CAL employment? The good nature amongst the front-line employees and management to fly people where they needed to be; safely, punctually and comfortably, and consistently besting our competitors. Now anyone who knows me will attest that I am no employee of the month candidate. I believe in symbiotic relationships… you pay me like I am the best Pilot in the world, I’ll make sure your passengers feel that they are the best passengers in the world. I do want our company to succeed, but who the hell triples their own salary while offering a concessionary contract to front-line employees?... smisek does.
This agreement fails to foster the espirit de corps necessary to best our competitors. If you ratify this TA, for the next 4 years, every time you step on a crew bus with a fellow DAL Pilot, you will be have an inferior pay rate than that DAL Pilot. When the DAL contract is amendable in 2016, you will have taken away their pattern bargaining leverage, because you’ve already agreed to work for less than them.
At 42 years of age, and with 4 airline uniforms in my closet, I must admit that I want our company to succeed. Since we have not fostered the unity that I deemed germane to our current plight, all things now rest with the Pilots. I have not picked up on open time assignment since 2007. I will not pick up an open time assignment until all of our fellow Pilots are offered recall, not re-employment.
Eric and I made a commitment long ago to advocate for you, not think for you. Ergo, any question that you might have about this TA, we will answer or get those answers for you. We will explain why we voted the way we voted, we will point out what we think is both good and bad about this agreement and we will share how we think the various actions might play out. What we will NOT do is tell you how to vote or attempt to influence you decision through fear or intimidation; that used to be the company’s job. I have a few good friends who have expressed their “yes” vote for their particular reasons; I have not lost one iota of respect for a Pilot who has evaluated this TA and come to the conclusion that a “yes” vote works for them. The vast majorities of our LEC 171 constituents have found this agreement lacking and have voiced their plans to vote “No”. As long as it is an informed decision, I have no problem with this either. Captain Hunter and I are just two Line-Pilots who like to keep things simple; we are you Representatives, so we are just going to represent you.
If you haven’t noticed, I’m a little peeved about what I deem to be scare tactics being used to influence your vote. Whether on the flight-deck or in our personal lives, any time that you are about to make an important decision based on fear, you are probably about to make a bad decision. You all have the agreement; you have access to your Reps and other Union resources. If you like this agreement, vote “Yes”. If you don’t, vote “No”. But by all means exercise your innate judgment to make the right decision for you and your families and don’t let some Union guy, including me, make this most important decision for you.
I. WE STAND CORRECTED
While giving an example of a situation when negotiations resumed quickly after voting “no,” we inadvertently stated that the Continental Flight Attendants rejected their TA in October 2007. The correct date when the Continental Flight Attendants rejected their TA was October 2010, and they ratified their second offer in January 2011. We apologize for the error.
Now, we have to wonder why the MEC blast mail that came out about two weeks ago listing off all the examples of rejected Tentative Agreements didn't include the one we mentioned. You would think that it would be highly relevant, considering that it happened right here at our own company and with the same management group that we are dealing with.
II. THANK YOU
We want to thank all of the pilots who attended our LEC townhall meetings. We recognize that your days off are precious and few, and we appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts, ask questions, and participate in lively discussions. We also truly appreciate your support as we carry your collective voice to the MEC.
III. DID YOU KNOW... Sick leave: For all of you who were fortunate enough to save up your sick time in anticipation of bridging your retiree medical insurance, section 13-B of the TA stipulates that unused sick leave will be forfeited upon separation from the company. That's right- unless you are lucky enough to retire before January 2014, all that time you saved up (in many cases the equivalent to a year's work or more)- just vanishes!
Reserve “days off”: In spite of all the fancy acronyms of HDO, RDO, FDO, and CDO, the short explanation is that now ALL of those days (yes even the “Holy” ones) are no longer sacred, as our immoveable days were. You see, under our current contract, immoveable days for our reserves ensured they would be free from duty and home with their families. Short of a catastrophic event, the company was required to return a pilot to his base for his immoveable days. To the contrary, in this TA a reserve pilot- even going into a Holy Day Off- is subject to reassignment, just like a line holder (with one exception- a reserve may not be reassigned beyond an FDO "without his concurrence"). So while it is true that a day off is not moveable to begin a trip or sit reserve, there is still a chance you will work on your planned day off. Is nothing sacred?
Report delay & notification: Attention widebody commuters (and "Global" pilots everywhere)! Did you know that according to section 5-F-2-b-(1) of this TA, if the company “attempts” to notify you of a delay four hours prior to show, your report time can be rescheduled even if they don't actually make contact with you? So there you are, commuting in for your trip (and obviously your phone is off in compliance with FAA regulations), and when you land you receive a message to the effect of, “Hi Captain. Your 15-hour flight is now delayed by five hours. Hope that's not a problem!” This is a change from our current contract that requires Scheduling to make positive contact with you before your report time, otherwise you are considered to have started your duty day. Good luck getting some rest in that comfortable & peaceful crew room!
Delayed implementation: If you haven't looked closely at the Implementation Timeline (LOA 26), we suggest you take look. Of the 100 plus items on that list, here's a breakdown of when most of them take effect:
● 6 are effective at Date of Signing,
● 8 are effective with the second bid period after DOS,
● 26 are effective with the third bid period after DOS,
● 6 are effective with the fifth bid period after DOS,
● 5 are effective with the sixth bid period after DOS,
● 5 are effective after the eighth bid period (or later),
● 28 are effective “upon combined CMS”, and
● 16 are effective at some point determined by the JIT.
So, while the pay rates are effective immediately (well, most of them, at least), the bulk of work rule changes do not trigger until six months or later- in some cases much later and in other cases at a date TBD (as in “determined by the JIT”). Uh oh. We know how that worked out for us last time around.
Also, for those of you curious, the target date for “combined CMS” is September 2013, in anticipation of the FAA rule changes effective January 2014. Let us emphasize that is the “target” date. With the real deadline not until January 2014, who here wants to take a guess as to when the “combined CMS” will really come to fruition?
Although we don't give our management much credit for the way they run an airline, they definitely have earned our respect in this game of chess that is about to end (at least for another five or six years). Even though they take plenty of missteps in the operation of the airline, they have proven their prowess at managing this pilot group and are close to winning this round.
By dragging negotiations out until the end of the year (they did dictate the schedule after all), they have forced us into making a decision near Christmas Time- when thoughts of finances and being with family may cloud our decisions. By having our two pilot groups face each other- one of which is experiencing a lot of upward movement while the other is stagnant- our management has successfully fostered envy and animosity between the two groups.
Moreover, our "professional managers" knew that this plan of theirs would prevent our two groups from working together to focus on the true target- management. We are too busy fighting over the scraps on the floor while our management plunders from the treasure chest. Our management may ruin our airline accidentally, but they certainly know how to intentionally destroy our profession.