The FAEC has received numerous questions concerning the recently announced Gulfstream displacements and we will try and answer those questions here.
Question 1: Since Gulfstream Flight Attendants are being displaced to the Global, why aren’t those Global positions being put up for bid by Falcon Flight Attendants as well?
Answer 1: To answer this question, it is important to understand the difference between “vacancies” announced in a particular fleet by the Company under Section 5.4 of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and “positions the Company has determined to exist” in a particular fleet when displacements are occurring under Section 5.11 of the CBA. They are not the same thing and different rules apply.
Section 5.4 of the CBA applies to situations in which the Company has determined vacancies exist in a particular fleet, without regard to whether or not other fleets are in disposal or “overstaffed” within the meaning of Sections 5.11 and 3.30. This is what occurred following the integration of NJA and NJI when “vacancies” were opened on the Gulfstream and put up for bid among Falcon Flight Attendants. If there had been other fleets in existence at that time, then all non-Gulfstream and non-equipment locked Flight Attendants could have bid for the Gulfstream vacancies, as vacancies are up for pure seniority bidding by any Flight Attendant under Section 5.4.
Under Section 5.11, however, the Company is not opening vacancies in any fleet, but rather is displacing Flight Attendants from a fleet that is in disposal and is “overstaffed” within the meaning of Section 3.30. To which fleet the Company chooses to displace Flight Attendants under Section 5.11 is at its discretion because it is not creating any vacancies, but is instead absorbing “overstaffed” Flight Attendants into a fleet or fleets of its choosing. While this process is known as a displacement bid, it is limited only to those Flight Attendants in the “overstaffed” fleet and is not open to any other fleets. This is the same process that is contained in the Pilots’ CBA upon which the 2006 Flight Attendant CBA language in this area is based. The simplest way to state the situation is that there are no vacancies on the Global; there are only positions being opened on the Global for displaced Gulfstream Flight Attendants.
To be sure, the Company could open Section 5.4 vacancies on the Global whenever it wished to do so and those vacancies would be up for pure seniority bidding by any Flight Attendant in any other fleet, but it has chosen no to do so at this time.
Question 2: Will Gulfstream Flight Attendants displaced to the Global still be able to be used on the Gulfstream?
Answer 2: Yes; pursuant to the Global Grievance Settlement Agreement (GSA) entered into between the Union and Company in July 2012, Flight Attendants displaced to the Global fleet remain eligible to be used in their prior fleet so long as they remain trained in their prior fleet. The Global GSA was a compromise the Union believes was in the best interest of all Flight Attendants given the alternatives at the time. A detailed explanation of why the Global GSA was entered into and what is contained in it was sent in the August 5, 2012 edition of Flight Line. For ease of reference, we are pasting that message below. Please note the bolded bullet point, which made clear that additional positions on the Global after the first 50 would be filled under Section 5.4 or Section 5.11. In this case, the Company chose to use Section 5.11:
As announced in the July 16, 2012 edition of Flight Line, the Union, working through the FAEC, and the Company have reached a Grievance Settlement Agreement (attached to this announcement) over the dispute concerning the fleet designation of the Global aircraft slated to start coming on-line this Fall. By way of background, the Union first became aware of a dispute over bidding rights for the Global when the Company informed the FAEC that it intended to add Global aircraft to the existing GLC (Gulfstream) fleet. In other words, the Company intended to treat the Global as merely another version of the Gulfstream and have Flight Attendants in the GLC fleet be cross-trained and cross-utilized on the Global in the same manner as Flight Attendants are cross-utilized on different models of the Gulfstream (IV,V, 550, etc.) and Falcon (2000 & 2000EX) in their respective fleets. The Company asserted Section 1.8(a) of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) permitted the Global to be operated as part of the GLC fleet in this manner.
Upon being informed of the Company’s intentions, the Union immediately filed a Class Action Grievance (CAG) asserting that, under Section 1.8(b) of the CBA, the Company was required to bargain with the Union over the rules, rates of pay and/or working conditions that would be applied to the Global, including whether the Global would be added to an existing fleet or designated as a new fleet for Flight Attendant purposes. The Union further took the position that the NJA-NJI Integration Letter of Agreement prohibited the Company from unilaterally adding the Global to the GLC fleet, as it states that all Gulfstream aircraft formerly operated by NJI would be regarded as a single fleet under the CBA. In addition to the CAG filed by the Union, numerous Flight Attendants also filed individual grievances asserting that the Company’s plan violated the CBA.
After an initial hearing on the CAG, the parties agreed to bypass the 4-man System Board in light of an anticipated deadlock and move directly to a 5-man System Board with a neutral arbitrator. The parties selected Arbitrator George Niccolau and scheduled a hearing for September 14. However, given the importance of this issue to all Flight Attendants, the Union and FAEC continued to meet with the Company to attempt to resolve the dispute.
In order to understand how and why the Union and FAEC reached a settlement on the Global fleet designation, it is important to understand the facts facing the parties and the potential consequences of either the Union or Company prevailing in arbitration. First, the facts:
- The number of Falcon and Gulfstream aircraft operated by NetJets has been declining, albeit at a potentially increasing rate for Gulfstreams, and there is no indication that new orders for either aircraft will be forthcoming.
- Under Sections 3.30, 3.33 and 5.11 of the CBA, this reduction in Falcons and Gulfstreams has the potential for the Company to declare one or both fleets to be “overstaffed.” In such circumstances, the Company may displace Flight Attendants from the overstaffed fleet to positions it determines to exist in other fleets.
Based on these facts, the Company took the position in settlement negotiations that if the Union was correct that the Global was required to be established as a standalone fleet and prevailed in arbitration, then as Falcon Flight Attendants bid the Global and Gulfstreams were retired at a faster rate than Falcons, a potential understaffing could arise in the Falcon and overstaffing in the Gulfstream. This could result in Gulfstream Flight Attendants being displaced to the Falcon. Obviously, such a result was not desired by the Union or FAEC.
On the other hand, if the Company were to prevail in arbitration and the Global was merely added to the GLC fleet, then Falcon Flight Attendants could be forever foreclosed from bidding to fly the Global because as Globals were brought on-line and Gulfstreams retired, there would be few if any openings in the GLC fleet for Falcon Flight Attendants to bid. At the same time, Gulfstream Flight Attendants who did not want to be forced to be cross-trained and cross-utilized on the Global could be forced to do just that. Obviously again, such a result was not desired by the Union or FAEC.
It is against this backdrop and recognizing that Section 6 negotiations are still on-going that the Union and Company were able to negotiate the attached Grievance Settlement Agreement. The key terms of the Settlement Agreement are as follows:
- Global aircraft will be placed into a new fleet for Flight Attendant crewing purposes.
- The first 50 positions in the Global will be made available for bid in equal numbers by Falcon and Gulfstream Flight Attendants (i.e., the first 50 positions in the Global will be filled by 25 Falcon flight attendants and 25 Gulfstream flight attendants). This means that all Flight Attendants will have an immediate opportunity to exercise their seniority and bid for the Global. If these positions are not bid in sufficient numbers by either Falcon or Gulfstream Flight Attendants, the provisions of Section 5.4(a)(i) will apply to Flight Attendants in that fleet.
- Once the first 50 positions have been filled, additional positions in the Global fleet will be filled via seniority-based bidding under Section 5.4 or via displacement under Section 5.11, or a combination of both. This means that after the first 50 positions have been filled, the Global fleet will be treated no differently than any other fleet from bidding, awarding, and assignment perspectives.
- Flight Attendants who are awarded or assigned to positions in the Global fleet at any time may perform Flight Attendant duties on the Global and on their previous aircraft. In other words, a Global Flight Attendant who previously held a position in the Falcon will be able to perform flight attendant duties on both the Global and the Falcon, but not the Gulfstream. A Global Flight Attendant who previously held a position in the Gulfstream will be able to perform flight attendant duties on both the Global and the Gulfstream, but not the Falcon.
- Overall wages, including a wage scale applicable to the Global fleet, will be negotiated part of the ongoing Section 6 collective bargaining process, and an agreement has been reached to make any Global wage scale retroactive to the date each Global Flight Attendant commences transition training associated with her Global position. Because of the difference between Falcon and Gulfstream wages, and in recognition of the fact that the negotiations may take some additional time, Falcon Flight Attendants who are awarded or assigned to positions in the Global will receive a $4,000 lump sum payment upon completion of Global transition training. This lump sum will be deducted from the retroactive payment described above after negotiations for a successor collective bargaining agreement have concluded, but if the retroactive pay is less than $4,000, no Flight Attendant will be required to return any money.
- Instructors who bid and are awarded the Global will retain their Instructor positions. If, however, an insufficient number of Instructors move to the Global, then the Company may “seed” the Global with Instructors, excluding Ground Instructors, pursuant to Section 5.6 of the CBA without regard to current fleet assignment.
It also has been agreed that the crewing framework established by this agreement will not cause the furlough of any Flight Attendant prior to the completion of negotiations for a successor to the current collective bargaining agreement.
The Union and FAEC firmly believe that this Settlement Agreement represents the best solution for seniority-based bidding to fly the Global. Moreover, this resolution and the manner in which it was reached is in-line with the Union’s position that the Company was required to negotiate with the Union over the rates of pay, rules and/or working conditions applicable to the Global pursuant to Section 1.8(c) of the CBA or proceed to interest arbitration. Further, the Settlement Agreement in no way amends or alters our current contract language because, under the Union’s interpretation of the CBA, there was no language that was applicable to the Global absent an agreement reached by the parties under Section 1.8(c) over what, if any, contract language was applicable.
At this time, there has been no time frame set for when the first Global bids will be announced, but we will keep you informed of any new developments. We understand that there will be many more questions and we encourage all Flight Attendants to contact the Union or an FAEC member regarding the Settlement Agreement.
Question 3: Why is the Gulfstream being referred to as “overstaffed”?
Answer 3: Whether or not a fleet is “overstaffed” within the meaning of the CBA such that the Company may displace Flight Attendants from the fleet is simply a mathematical formula that is based upon the ratio of Flight Attendants to aircraft in a particular fleet. Once a fleet is in disposal, as the Gulfstream fleet is, the Company may displace Flight Attendants from the fleet as aircraft are removed to maintain the same ratio of Flight Attendants to aircraft that existed before the aircraft is removed. This is what is set forth in Section 3.30 of the CBA as well as in paragraph 8 of the Global GSA.
To determine how many Flight Attendants in a fleet may be displaced, or by how much a fleet is “overstaffed,” you begin by calculating the ratio of Flight Attendants to aircraft before an aircraft is removed from the fleet. For example, if there are 100 Flight Attendants in a fleet and 30 aircraft, then the ratio is 3.33 Flight Attendants per aircraft. Then, you multiply that ratio by the number of aircraft left in the fleet after the displacement to get the number of Flight Attendants needed to maintain the original ratio. The difference between the number of Flight Attendants need to maintain the original ratio and the actual number of Flight Attendants in the fleet is how many can be displaced.
So, starting with the 3.33 ratio above, if you remove 2 aircraft and go to 28, the ratio becomes 3.57 Flight Attendants per aircraft. To determine the number of Flight Attendants who can be displaced, you multiply the original 3.33 ratio by the 28 aircraft left in the fleet, which would give you 93.24. The difference between the 100 Flight Attendants in the fleet and 93.24 is how many Flight Attendants can be displaced, or in this situation 6 Flight Attendants since you cannot displace a partial person. So, in this hypothetical situation, the fleet is overstaffed by 6 Flight Attendants.
That is the process that was applied when 2 Gulfstreams were removed to determine that 4 Gulfstream Flight Attendants could be displaced, or in other words, the process used to determine the Gulfstream fleet was “overstaffed” by 4.
Question 4: Why are the new hire Flight Attendants being assigned to the Falcon instead of displacing Gulfstream Flight Attendants to the Falcon?
Answer 4: Section 5.3(a) of the CBA states, “All new hire Flight Attendants shall be assigned to the Falcon program upon their date of hire and shall incur a one (1) year equipment lock.” Therefore, any new hires must be assigned to the Falcon.
As for why the Company chose to displace Gulfstream Flight Attendants to the Global, as opposed to the Falcon, that has not been discussed with the Company, but we assume it is because it will still be able to use displaced Gulfstream Flight Attendants on Gulfstream aircraft as well as on Global aircraft. This cross-utilization of Flight Attendants is more efficient for the Company in that it increases the pool of Flight Attendants eligible to be assigned a Global trip, while at the same time keeping the pool of Flight Attendants eligible to be assigned a Gulfstream trip the same. Furthermore, given the number of flights in all fleets that end up going without a Flight Attendant, the Union is happy that the Company is hiring in order to maintain the contractually required 2.5 or more Flight Attendants per Falcon aircraft ratio contained in Section 23.22(g)(vi) of the CBA.
We hope this answers the questions that Flight Attendants have about the Gulfstream displacements. As always, if you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the FAEC.