Archive for December 2013
Dear NetJets Flight Attendants:
Due to the flight volume surrounding the peak period and departure volume at KTEB, a select menu will be available for crew meals ordered for flights at KTEB Landmark Aviation on Friday, December 20 and Saturday, December 21. Please be sure to choose from the select menu options for all meals during this time period. If you expect to receive a meal in this location, you must enter a request on your BlackBerry.
B1 Breakfast Burrito
B2 Breakfast Frittata
B4 Granola Parfait
L4b Italian Hoagie
L4c Tuna on wheat
L1 Mixed Grill
L7 Spinach Salad with Feta
L5 Chicken Cobb Salad
D1a Salmon Filet
D8a Steak Au Poivre
D8e Vegetarian Shepard’s Pie
D8g Baked Ginger Chicken Broccoli
Please review the correct procedure on your BlackBerry under the N icon > Communications > BlackBerry Instructions > Crew Food Pre-ordered Event. We always appreciate any feedback to help improve the crew and Owner catering experience. If you have any immediate needs or issues, please send them to:
As always, please fly safely and by the Contract.
This past week, the newly seated Flight Attendant Executive Council (FAEC) and the Flight Attendant Negotiating Committee (FANC) met in Columbus to continue direct collective bargaining negotiations with the Company. We met face to face with the Company only on Wednesday, December 11 during which time the Company reviewed the current status of negotiations and restated its position that concessions in the areas of work rules and benefits are necessary for it to achieve a five (5%) percent reduction in Flight Attendant costs over the next five years. The Union continued to reject the Company’s position that concessions are either necessary or appropriate in light of the massive profits being currently generated by NetJets and, based on multiple press releases and media reports, projected to continue. Indeed, the Union made clear that it will continue to seek improvements, not give backs, in the areas of work rules, i.e., Flight Attendant quality of life, compensation and benefits, as befitting the face of NetJets on large cabin aircraft.
After considering the distance between the Union and Company’s positions and conducting a review of the last six months of bargaining progress, which has been minimal, the Union has decided to seek mediation under the auspices of the National Mediation Board (NMB). Mediation was successfully used in reaching the first NJA collective bargaining agreement in 2005, and we are hopeful that mediated negotiations will prove successful again. Nonetheless, if mediation proves fruitless, the Union will seek to be released from mediation by the NMB, which if granted, will free the Union to use self-help and exert economic pressure (e.g., total or intermittent strikes, picketing, etc.) on the Company in order to bring a resolution to negotiations that are now approaching three years in duration.
We understand that Flight Attendants will have many questions about mediation. Therefore, we have put together the following outline of collective bargaining under the Railway Labor Act, including a Q & A on the mediation process. As always, if there are any questions that are not answered below, please contact the FAEC firstname.lastname@example.org
UNDERSTANDING THE PROCESS OF COLLECTIVE
BARGAINING IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE
RAILWAY LABOR ACT
Negotiations conducted by the carrier and union without the assistance of a mediator or other National Mediation Board (NMB) involvement.
Generally, an impasse exists when progress is not being made in negotiations. Typically, the carrier or union invokes the mediation process after an impasse occurs. The carrier and union may file an application for mediation individually or jointly. Under certain circumstances, the NMB may invoke mediation on its own.
Mediation refers to negotiations conducted with an NMB appointed mediator after the parties have failed to reach an agreement in direct negotiations.
National Mediation Board (NMB)
The NMB is an independent federal agency that performs a central role in facilitating harmonious labor-management relations within two of the nation’s key transportation modes: the railroads and airlines.
On the Shelf/On Ice/Recessed
On the shelf, on ice or recessed are unofficial terms used to describe an NMB decision to postpone any additional mediatory efforts for a specific period of time while declining to release the parties. At this point, the self-help options available to a carrier and union are indefinitely frozen.
Section 6 refers to the provision of the RLA obligating carriers and unions to provide timely notice of intended changes to rates of pay, rules and working conditions. A Section 6 “Notice of Intended Change,” triggers the parties’ obligation to commence direct negotiations.
Established by the 1934 amendments to the Railway Labor Act, the National Mediation Board (NMB) is an independent agency that performs a central role in facilitating harmonious labor-management relations within two of the nation’s key transportation modes – the railroads and airlines. The NMB’s integrated processes are specifically designed to promote three statutory goals:
1) the prompt and orderly resolution of disputes resulting from the negotiation of new or revised collective bargaining agreements;
2) the effectuation of employee rights of self-organization where a representation dispute exists; and
3) the prompt and orderly resolution of disputes regarding the interpretation or application of existing agreements.
What is the NMB?
The NMB is a federal agency created by the RLA to administer the Act and effectuate its purposes, including collective bargaining and representation disputes in the rail and air industries. The NMB mediates negotiations, assists with grievance resolution, and resolves representation disputes through employee elections.
Who are NMB members?
The NMB consists of three members appointed by the President of the United Sates and confirmed by the Senate. No more than two members of the NMB may be of the same political party. Board member appointments are for the 3 years. A member may continue to serve while a replacement appointment or reappointment is pending. The NMB also employs staff mediators and other specialists to assist it in its work.
III. MEDIATION UNDER THE RLA
Mediation serves to foster the prompt and orderly resolution of collective bargaining disputes in the railroad and airline industries. These disputes, referred to as major disputes, involve the establishment of or changes to rates of pay, rules and working conditions. In its mediatory role, the Board may employ a variety of methods, including traditional mediation, interest-based problem solving or other types of facilitation. NMB mediators often play an active role in the negotiation process, including determining the frequency, times, dates and locations for negotiations. Historically, some 97 percent of all NMB mediation cases have been successfully resolved without interruption to public service. Since 1980, only slightly more than one percent of cases have involved a service disruption.
How does mediation get started under the RLA?
If the carrier, the union, or both are dissatisfied with the progress of direct negotiations, either or both parties may apply to the NMB for a mediator assignment. The RLA requires the NMB in such cases to “promptly put itself in communication with the parties” and to “use its best efforts, by mediation, to bring them to agreement.”
How are mediators selected?
The NMB employs several staff mediators who are selected for their experience and knowledge in labor-management relations and dispute resolution. The Board selects a mediator for a particular case based on mediator availability, knowledge and experience with the case.
How long does the NMB keep parties in mediation?
There is no rule for how long mediation will last in any particular case. The Board has the discretion to decide whether and when to terminate mediation. Some mediation cases have lasted several weeks while others have lasted several years.
How does a mediator help parties reach agreement?
Mediators cannot require the parties to reach an agreement; however, skilled mediators often suggest practical solutions to difficult issues. They have been trained in techniques that serve to engage the parties and to foster compromise, and ultimately, progress in bargaining. The NMB supervises the mediator and retains the authority to decide when and if mediation should be terminated thereby releasing the parties to engage in self-help measures. The Board uses its authority to release or delay the release as a form of pressure on both sides to induce movement toward an agreement.
Are the carrier and union legally obligated to reach an agreement in direct negotiations or mediation?
The RLA does require carriers and unions to “exert every reasonable effort to make and maintain agreements concerning rates of pay, rules, and working conditions.” However, this provision does not compel either party to accept any particular proposal, and the courts generally do not question the parties’ bargaining positions.
Who can decide to end mediation?
The mediator, alone, cannot end mediation. Rather, the Board will make a determination based upon the mediator’s report, and sometimes, based on discussion between board members and the negotiating parties.
Does the NMB terminate mediation if one of the parties appears to be using mediation as a means of moving closer to the cooling off period and/or the ability to engage in self-help?
The NMB does not have the jurisdiction to decide whether a party has engaged in good-faith bargaining. Such determinations are reserved to the federal courts. However, the Board, preferring not to reward bargaining strategies undertaken to avoid agreement, may request the mediator slow the pace of mediation if he or she observes one or both parties attempting to rush the process rather than genuinely working to reach agreement. It should be noted that slow-paced mediation does not necessarily indicate the mediator has observed bad-faith bargaining by either party.
How much notice does the NMB provide prior to ending mediation?
When the mediator determines mediation should not continue, he or she temporarily suspends mediation so he can report to the Board. At that time, a Board member may enter mediated negotiations in a final effort to convince the parties to continue talks rather than releasing them into the cooling-off period. However, if progress cannot be made, either the mediator or NMB member may advise the parties that mediation will soon conclude. The Board also has the power to recess negotiations as an alternative to release.
What does the NMB do to end mediation?
Can the Board place mediated negotiations on the shelf, on ice or recess them rather than releasing the parties?
Yes. The Board has the authority to slow mediation down or even suspend it as way of putting pressure on the parties to reexamine their positions and to work toward an agreement. When the Board acts in this manner, a release from mediation, a pre-condition for exerting economic power to secure changes in rates of pay, rules and working conditions, is not available to the parties until and unless the NMB later releases the parties.
IV. STATUS QUO UNDER THE RLA
What is the Status Quo Obligation?
The status quo is comprised of those rates of pay, rules and working conditions in effect at the time of direct negotiations and ending once an agreement has been reached or when the statutory negotiation process is exhausted at the end of the 30-day cooling off period. During the period of the status quo obligation, carriers are prohibited from changing rates of pay, rules and working conditions except as provided for in agreements. Unions are prohibited from engaging in any form of self-help against the carrier for the purpose affecting negotiations. The question of whether the carrier’s obligation to refrain from making changes to the status quo during negotiations over an initial agreement is unsettled in the courts.
What type of conduct does the status quo obligation prohibit?
Generally, any conducted that is designed to cause economic injury to the other is prohibited, including carrier initiated changes to rates of pay, rules and working conditions, and employee sick outs, maintenance write-up campaigns and strikes.
What type of conduct is permissible during the status quo period?
Either party has the right to engage in lawful activity designed to educate and inform its constituency or the public of its position. A good example of permissible conduct is informational picketing.
What happens when the board proffers arbitration?
The proffer of arbitration is the Board’s offer to arbitrate the remaining contract disputes. The proffer officially terminates the Board’s mediation role. One of several scenarios will result from the offer:
Scenario 1: If either party refuses to arbitrate the dispute, the Board’s mediation services officially end and the 30-day countdown to self-help, more commonly referred to as the cooling off period, begins. The Board will issue a notice to this effect delineating the precise moment when the status quo obligation terminates.
Scenario 2: If neither party responds to the proffer of arbitration, the countdown does not start and the mediator is no longer obligated to “exert every reasonable effort” to reach assist the parties in reaching agreement; however, the NMB may attempt to move the process forward from time to time. If, at a later date, either party officially rejects the proffer of arbitration, the 30-day countdown will begin. Conversely, if the parties accept the proffer, arbitration will commence.
Scenario 3: If one party accepts arbitration, but the other does not respond, the countdown does not begin.
Scenario 4: If both parties accept arbitration, the open or disputed issues will be submitted to a board of arbitrators selected under in accordance with procedures established by the RLA.
Is there any obligation to accept the Board’s proffer of arbitration?
No. The Act does not compel the parties to submit their negotiation disputes to arbitration.
If the parties accept the proffer of arbitration, what is arbitrated?
The parties retain sole discretion regarding what issues to arbitrate. If, however, the parties cannot agree on the issues, they may be considered to have rejected the proffer of arbitration. The RLA requires the parties to agree in writing on the precise issues to be submitted to arbitration for decision. Once an arbitration agreement has been signed, it may not be unilaterally modified or revoked. The Board of arbitration will conduct interest arbitration although final offer arbitration is permissible if agreed to by the parties.
What is the 30-day cooling off period?
If either party refuses the proffer of arbitration, the NMB must at once notify both parties that mediation has failed and for 30 days thereafter no changes may be made to rates of pay, rules, working conditions or established practices. The written notice is known as a “release” from mediation. The 30 day period following the release is known as the 30-day cooling off period. During the cooling off period, the Board may actively encourage the parties to meet and attempt to resolve their dispute through negotiations. At the end of the 30-day cooling off period, the parties may engage in self-help, subject to the establishment of a Presidential Emergency Board.
VI. PRESIDENTIAL EMERGENCY BOARDS
What is the PEB?
In rare situations, when a dispute “threaten[s] substantially to interrupt interstate commerce to a degree such as to deprive any section of the country essential transportation service”, the NMB may recommend to the President of the United States that he or she create a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) to investigate the dispute and make recommendations for resolution. A PEB once convened temporarily extends the obligation to maintain the status quo.
How does the PEB work?
Creation of a PEB stops a strike, lockout, or other form of self-help, generally, for 60 days. The emergency board has 30 days to issue a report, which typically includes recommendations for settling the dispute. This period may be extended by the President. After the PEB reports to the president, the parties are released into another 30-day cooling off period to consider the PEB’s recommendations as potential basis for an agreement. If an agreement cannot be reached by the conclusion of the second cooling-off period, the parties are free to engage in self-help, including strikes, locks, and unilateral changes in terms and conditions of employment absent legislative action by Congress to the contrary.
In closing, the Flight Attendant Executive Council and IBT Local 284 would like to graciously thank Cliff Caldwell for his 9 years of dedicated service to the FAEC and NetJets Flight Attendants. We also deeply appreciate his unselfishness in helping to transition the new Flight Attendant Executive Council. If you see Cliff on the road, please be certain to thank him personally.
As always, please fly safely and by the Contract.
Upcoming Contract Negotiations
Your FAEC and Negotiating Committee will be meeting in Columbus December 9th – 13th for bargaining. In addition, Kyle Schoembs from the IBT Economics Department in D.C. will be joining the Committee once again to assist in costing out Union and Company proposals and other economic analyses. An update on the progress of negotiations will be provided following the conclusion of next week’s round of negotiations.
Union Conference Call – Dec. 12th
As a reminder, the FAEC and Negotiating Committee will be hosting a conference call on Thursday, December 12th, at 1600ET/1500CT/1400MT/1300PT. The conference phone number is: 641-715-3300, and the participant code is 955829#. Please plan to join us as a participant with questions or as a listener. You will leave the call having learned more than a thing or two about the challenges we face moving forward with negotiations.
As we move into the busiest season of our calendar year, please be considerate and thoughtful of the next Flight Attendant as you prepare to leave your aircraft. The Company gives us a list of NJA Standards (requirements) that should be completed before we leave an aircraft. If, for some reason, you are unable to complete those requirements because of an ASAP trip or quick tail swap (airlines home do not count), please email the ACFA on duty so she is aware of your situation and will be prepared to alert the next Flight Attendant. Your email will also ensure you are not penalized for circumstances beyond your control. Should you find yourself the recipient of an aircraft that has not been left up to NJA Standards, we ask you first attempt to email/text/call the previous Flight Attendant to discuss the problem before involving management which should be considered a last resort. Many Flight Attendants are not aware that involving management will result in a disciplinary measure that could leverage information or create a file on another coworker. We have no idea what crisis might be going on in our peers’ personal lives – or what kind of tour it has been — so please be kind to one another, supportive, and give each other the benefit of the doubt.
Union Contact Information
Your FAEC will be on call and available throughout the holidays should you experience contractual issues on the road.
JoDelle Burwell: 816-665-6023/email: JoDelleBurwell@comcast.net
Darcey Jameson: 850-933-9555/email: email@example.com
Jill Mwadsley: 940-230-1779/email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Revenue Flights Without Flight Attendants
Please continue to send information on revenue flights without Flight Attendants. The Union is scheduled to present Class Action Grievance #007-2013 (Revenue Flights Without Flight Attendants) before the System Board of Adjustment during the week of negotiations.
Last Day Brief
Lastly, please remember to check your Company briefs for any updates during your tour and, in particular, on your last day. Even if you are assigned an airline home on your last day, you are still subject to brief changes and to the possibility of being pulled from your airline to work a revenue flight. Remember — the Company can select any crewmember, at any time, for a random drug and alcohol test. Failing to show up for a drug and alcohol test can result in termination. We must all follow the contract and Company policies precisely. If in doubt, please call your supervisor and/or your FAEC for assistance.
Fly Safely and by the Contract
from your FAEC and IBT 284