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Mesa TA Questions and Answers #2

Date: 9/8/2017

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 info@ourcontract.org.  

1. What do you mean when you say certain items are tied to PBS? 
Because of all the problems they have at transition, the Company really wanted PBS. We knew that PBS could benefit a lot of flight attendants, but that did not mean we did not want some value in return. In order for us to agree to PBS, we told the Company that we needed:

  • Greater of actual or scheduled block
  • Line guarantee
  • 74-hour guarantee
  • 2-hour credit for 28-hour layover
  • Increased vacation accrual

We will lose these improvements if we decide to end PBS after the one-year trial. They also will not begin until we implement PBS or May 1, whichever date is earlier.  In these respects, they are “tied to PBS,” but in all other respects they have nothing to do with PBS.

2. Does PBS end my ability to trip trade or swap?
No. PBS affects only how you bid for and receive your monthly line of time. Once the initial awards are published, you will still be able to SAP and the trade/swap as you do today.

3. Will the trips be better with PBS?
The trips will be built the same as they are today. PBS affects which trips go on your line, not what the trip itself looks like. You will, however, have a greater opportunity to bid for the types of trips that you like to fly.

4. Will reserves bid in PBS?
Yes. All flight attendants will bid in PBS. Whether you receive a regular line or a reserve line will depend on your seniority and the preferences you enter. In fact, you will be able to enter preferences for both if you’re not sure what you will hold. For example, if you wanted Christmas off, you could try to hold it off as a lineholder; if you couldn’t, you could try to hold it off as a reserve. If you still couldn’t hold Christmas off, you could go back to bidding for a regular line rather than a reserve line.

When awarded, reserve lines will consist  of days on and days off. We will then have a second round of bidding for specific reserve shifts on your scheduled work days.

5. I have heard a lot about unstacking in PBS. I’m concerned that PBS will give me a lot of flying I didn’t ask for.
“Unstacking” occurs when more flight attendants want a given day off than the flight schedule allows. Say there are 100 trips operating over Thanksgiving, and the Company needs 15 reserves. That means 115 flight attendants have to work on Thanksgiving. Let’s assume there are 200 flight attendants in the base, so only 85 (200-115) can have the day off. If 95 flight attendants bid for Thanksgiving off, 10 will need to be unstacked and required to work on Thanksgiving. PBS unstacks in inverse seniority order (i.e.,  the ten most junior flight attendants who had asked for the day off, and who are legal and available, will be required to work).

This actually happens today, but it’s not quite as visible. In today’s world, the Company would build 100 regular lines and 15 reserve lines with Thanksgiving on. It would build approximately 70 regular lines and 15 reserve lines with Thanksgiving off. In either case, there would be 115 flight attendants working and 85 with the day off.

PBS has two important differences. First, you would not be stuck with the Company’s choice of lines with Thanksgiving off. Second, if you do have to work on Thanksgiving, you can preference the type of pairing you would like. Perhaps what’s most important to you is to be home for dinner. Then you would preference a trip that ends by mid-afternoon. If you like to watch the parade on TV, you would preference an evening check-in. Even when it unstacks you, PBS continues to look for every possible way to honor your remaining preferences.

6. I am so  grateful that flight attendants from around our union—and union members in both CWA and the labor movement picketed on our behalf to help us get  the new TA. Are we going to be able to picket ourselves next time?
If the TA passes,  yes. We were able to strike the provision that prohibits us from picketing, bringing us into line with almost all other airlines. We hope that our next round of negotiations goes more smoothly, and we would only use this right judiciously. It is a very important gain for us as a union and absolutely critical to showing our strength and demanding respect.

If the TA does not pass, and we begin negotiations for a third agreement, then the picketing provision would remain in place until (and unless) we ratified an agreement without that provision.

7. Why do you keep saying we will get two raises per year? I have been here for three years, and I only get one raise per year.
Under the TA, you will receive a raise every October 1 between now and 2022 (contract increase). You will receive an additional raise on your longevity date each year (step increase). You’ve only been receiving one raise per year because our contract became amendable in 2012. At that point, there were no more contract increases, so you received only your step increase. Note that our new contract would be amendable in 2021. Normally, in that case, the last contract increase would be on October 1, 2020. Here, however, we were able to achieve two years of contract raises beyond our amendable date. This is very rare in the airline industry. 

8. Is there a limit to how many times we can use the new hotel-room provision in the Commuter Policy?
Yes. Under this new provision, a flight attendant can ask the Company to book her/him a hotel room in domicile for the night before check-in, at the crew rate. The flight attendant can set a maximum price she/he is willing to pay, and the cost is billed to Mesa. The Company then payroll  deducts the cost from  the flight attendant’s paycheck at the rate of $25 per check. If your hotel-related debt exceeds $300, you can ask for a hotel room, but the Company will not front the costs. You can use the hotel provision up to four times in a bid period.

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