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Mesa TA Questions and Answers #1
We will be posting answers to frequently asked questions several times between now and the end of voting. We want to make sure you have all of the information necessary to cast a fully informed vote. Please send your questions about the tentative agreement, the voting process, or the Railway Labor Act to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Why do the MEC and the Negotiating Committee recommend a YES vote on the TA?
Through our strike vote, our mobilization and the support of other AFA carriers we sent a strong message to Mesa management that we needed immediate contract improvements. We pushed for wage increases that bring us above the average of comparator carriers flying for United and American, contract improvements such as block or better, and contract rules that protect Flight Attendants. We demanded respect for us and the work we do.
This TA accomplished all those goals. Our wage scales are above the average of those flying for United and American, providing immediate increases for Mesa Flight Attendants. Increases in per diem and other pay protections such as block or better and line guarantee directly increase take home pay.
The TA has a lot of good scheduling rules that will improve our quality of life like the tail end deadhead with no loss of pay, paid hotel room in base if you RON in base due to reassignment or re-crew, etc.
Mesa has put about five times more money into this agreement than in the previous TA. And we achieved an amazing intangible: respect. Mesa management is looking at us differently and treating us better. We’ve already seen the difference in the way they’re dealing with us and processing our grievances.
In any negotiations, the calculation is always “did you push hard to win what could be won.” Here, the answer is clear. Mesa Flight Attendants stood together to fight for a strong contract. We banded together to take one of the highest strike votes in recent memory at AFA, and we had the support of our sisters and brothers at other AFA airlines. We strongly believe we squeezed every last cent out of the company and far beyond what they intended to pay. We don’t believe holding out and delaying longer will yield a better result and for that reason have recommended a FOR vote on ratification of this agreement.
2. How is this Tentative Agreement is good for a new hire Flight Attendant?
This agreement is about giving New Hire Flight Attendants a reason to stay at Mesa. Our goal was to transform this from a short term, high turnover job to a career. Under this Tentative Agreement, a new hire’s take home annual pay will rise more than $12,500, including approximately $10,000 in the wage rates alone, $1000 in per diem, and $1000 from other pay provisions. It’s not just about the beginning wage increases because these Flight Attendants will progress through the wage scale, and it’s important to take into account the improved work rules, and factor in per diem. If the plan is not to stay at Mesa, then let’s also make it better for those who are. Work rules matter. The better of scheduled and actual, line guarantee, and increase of the minimum guarantee benefit all Flight Attendants and will increase monthly take home pay.
3. I know line guarantee was one of our top bargaining priorities, but I am not quite sure how it works. Can you explain it?
Having a line guarantee means that you will always be paid AT LEAST the value of your awarded line (which is your line after SAP), less any flying you choose to drop. So regardless of how many cancellations, reassignments or re-crews you have during a month, you will always be paid at least the value of your line as it looks when SAP is completed. Of course, if you drop time, your line guarantee will be reduced by the same amount. If you pick up flying, it will be paid above the line guarantee.
4. I looked at the pay chart you posted a few days ago. It should be straightforward, but it’s just not making sense to me. Can you walk me through it?
Let’s review a few scenarios to describe how this works. Reference the chart in the TA Summary to follow along.
Sophie – first six months of flying.
Sophie has a hire date of May 1, 2017. She is currently paid $15.91 per hour, since she is in her first six months. When the contract goes into effect on (DOS), the new pay rate for the first six months will be $16.00. On November 1, 2017, when she starts her second six months, her pay increases to $17.30 per hour. On her anniversary date of May 1, 2018, she moves to Step 2 and will receive $19.00 per hour. On (DOS +1), Step 2 increases to $19.25. On Sophie’s next anniversary date, May 1, 2019, she moves to Step 3, which will be $21.00. On (DOS +2), Step 3 increases to $21.25. Then on her next anniversary date, May 1, 2020, Sophie moves to Step 4, which will be $23.11. On (DOS +3), Step 4 increases to $23.92. On her next anniversary date, May 1, 2021, Sophie moves to Step 5, which will be $25.82. (In contrast, Step 5 today is $22.54.)
Jackson – nearly six years of flying.
Jackson’s hire date is October 29, 2011. He is currently at Step 6, or $23.61 per hour. When the new contract takes effect after ratification (DOS), Step 6 will increase to $25.03. On his anniversary date of October 29, 2017, he moves to Step 7 and will receive $25.90 per hour. On DOS +1, Step 7 increases to $26.55. On Jackson’s next anniversary date, October 29, 2018, he moves to Step 8, which will be $27.44. On DOS +2, Step 8 increases to $28.13. Then on his next anniversary date, October 29, 2019, Jackson moves to Step 9, which will be $29.15. On DOS +3, Step 9 increases to $30.17. On his next anniversary date, October 29, 2020, Jackson moves to Step 10, which will be $30.99. (In contrast, Step 10 today is $26.69.)
Sheri – 17 years of flying.
Sheri was hired on January 14, 2000. She is currently topped out at Step 18, which pays $30.34 per hour. When the contract goes into effect on DOS, she will move to the new step 18, at $33.37. On January 14, she moves to Step 19 and will receive $33.53 per hour. On DOS +1, Step 19 increases to $34.37. On Sheri’s next anniversary date, January 14, 2019, she moves to Step 20, which will be $34.60. On DOS +2, Step 20 increases to $35.47. Then on her next anniversary date, January 14, 2020, Sheri moves to Step 21, which will be $36.00. On DOS +3, Step 21 increases to $37.26. On her next anniversary date, January 14, 2021, Sheri moves to Step 22, which will be $37.82. (In contrast, Step 22 today doesn’t exist, so Sheri would still be earning $30.34 under the current contract.)
5. How do line guarantee, minimum guarantee and being paid the greater of actual or scheduled block work together?
To answer this question, we will start with a quick overview of how scheduled vs. actual block will be paid. First, your actual block time will be calculated for each leg. If your actual flight time (for the month) is greater than your line guarantee, you will be paid the actual flight time.
If your line as awarded was under 74 hours, you would be paid the greatest of 74 hours (minimum guarantee), your awarded line value, or the greater of scheduled or actual flight time. In no case would be paid fewer than 74 hours, unless you voluntarily dropped time or called in sick and did not have enough sick hours in your bank.
A. A Flight Attendant is awarded an 80-hour line. Her total actual flight time for the month (as calculated on a flight segment basis) is 78 hours (comprised of 75 hours scheduled and 3 hours of over block). The Flight Attendant had 5 hours of cancellations. She would be paid 80 hours for the month.
B. A Flight Attendant is awarded an 80-hour line. His total actual flight time for the month (as calculated on a flight segment basis) is 82 hours (comprised of 79 hours scheduled and 3 hours of over block). The Flight Attendant has 1 hour of flying dropped by the Company for a re-crew. He would be paid 82 hours for the month.
C. A Flight Attendant is awarded an 80-hour line. Her total actual flight time for the month (as calculated on a flight segment basis) is 63 hours (comprised of 60 hours scheduled and 3 hours over block). The Flight Attendant called in sick for a trip worth 20 hours and flew the rest of the month as scheduled. She would be paid 83 hours for the month (assumes sufficient sick bank hours).
D. A Flight Attendant is awarded an 80-hour line. He calls in sick for a trip worth 20 hours. His actual flight time for the month (as calculated on a flight segment basis) is 61 hours (comprised of 60 hours scheduled, 2 hours dropped and 3 hours over block). The Flight Attendant would be paid 81 hours for the month (assumes sufficient sick bank hours).
6. What is PBS?
PBS stands for preferential bidding system. When you use PBS, you bid on trips, rather than on lines. You enter certain preferences (such as check-in time, trip length, credit value), and the system fulfills your preferences based on the trips available at your seniority. It starts with the most senior Flight Attendant in each base and works its way down the domicile seniority list. Reserves bid for days on and off, and then for their preferred reserve shift.
In PBS, there are no pre-built lines and no bid packets. Instead, you will bid directly for the trips themselves. The combination of trips you receive will be your line. You can bid for trips by pairing number and date (which works best if you’re senior) or by a description of the types of trips you like to fly. For example, if you’re a commuter, you might bid for high-time 4-day trips that check in after noon and release before noon. If you are dating someone who lives in TUS, you can bid for trips with TUS layovers. You can also bid for specific days off.
PBS is a big change. AFA trainers will be available to help you learn the system. We are committed to a substantial training period before PBS “goes live.” The Tentative Agreement includes strong protections including AFA Scheduling committee role in reviewing PBS awards, strong contract language governing PBS and guarantees of a transition process to PBS including parallel bids.
7. Can we go on strike if we vote this TA down?
The short answer is not right away, but we want to give a longer, more helpful answer. Like all airline labor negotiations, we are governed by the Railway Labor Act (“RLA”). Under the RLA, the National Mediation Board (“NMB”) has authority to decide whether a union can legally strike.
Our strike vote authorized the MEC to lobby the NMB for a proffer at an appropriate time so that we could be released into a 30-day cooling off period. The MEC recently passed a resolution that they would seek a proffer if we did not reach a TA at our last mediation session.
If the TA is voted down, that is where we will be. We would immediately begin the process of requesting a proffer, which is the first step to achieving the legal right to strike. This generally takes several months, and given that the President has still not appointed the new members of the NMB, it could be even longer. And that is assuming that this administration would allow a strike in the first place—which is by no means a certainty. It’s equally likely that at the end of the cooling-off period, the President could order a Presidential Emergency Board—another form of arbitration.
Ultimately, each Flight Attendant has to ask herself/himself if waiting another year (or more) is worth the risk. Waiting could result in the same contract, a worse one, or a better one. It depends on the economy, how Mesa is doing at the time, and whether we will be allowed to strike at all. In the meantime, we will have worked another year under our (sub-par) current agreement.
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