Representation for Members Based in
October 8, 2015
The AFA International Office has received some questions about the Satellite Bases at s-CAL and the actions of the CAL MEC to move the SFO members from Council 62. In response, AFA International has written the Q&A below to answer member questions and clear up some of the misinformation on the chronology of events related to protecting the legal and Constitutional representation rights of the members in SFO.
How was the s-CAL Satellite Bases assigned to the s-CAL Local Councils?
The s-CAL satellite bases in LAX , DEN, SFO, IAD and ORD were assigned to the existing s-CAL Local Councils as a result of a Side Letter negotiated by the CAL MEC and the Company in 2012 as part of the Transition Agreement negotiations. In a CAL MEC update dated September 8, 2012, the CAL MEC wrote that the Satellite Bases would open on October 1, 2012, and the s-CAL Flight Attendants "will have all of the services and representation they are used to – including grievance desks in the crew rooms and full committee support. The Satellite Bases were contractually tied to the following parent bases:
LAX and DEN are Council 64 - Houston
SFO and IAD are Council 62 – Newark
ORD is Council 63 – Cleveland"
The CAL MEC President later stated that an internal policy had determined that 1000 members would trigger a request for a new Local Council. At the Executive Board meeting held in April, 2015, in Las Vegas, the CAL MEC's request to open a new Local Council for the LAX Flight Attendant base was approved. The LAX Flight Attendants are now represented by AFA Council 60.
Did the CAL MEC ask the AFA Executive Board to establish a new Local Council for SFO Flight Attendants?
Yes. At the AFA Executive Board meeting on September 10, 2015, the CAL MEC President submitted an agenda item seeking the Executive Board's approval to open a new Local Council for the SFO Flight Attendants. The CAL MEC President told the Executive Board that the base, which currently has 500 AFA members, will eventually grow to over 1000 Flight Attendants by March of 2016 as the result of expanded flying in the base. After extensive discussion and questions posed by the Executive Board members to the CAL MEC President about the SFO base and its growth plans, the agenda item did not pass. Several Executive Board members encouraged the CAL MEC President to re-submit the request for a new SFO Council at a later date after more information is known regarding the eventual size of the base. As a result of the Executive Board's vote, the SFO base continues to be represented by the Council 62 Officers and Committees as has been the case since October 1, 2012.
Executive Board Letter >
Did the CAL MEC hold a Special MEC meeting to consider moving SFO Flight Attendants to Council 60 LAX?
Yes. After the CAL MEC criticized the decision of the Executive Board not adopt the agenda item for a new SFO Local Council, the CAL MEC called a Special MEC Meeting to consider moving the SFO Flight Attendants from Council 62 to Council 60 LAX. Upon learning of the agenda for this Special Meeting, the AFA International Secretary Treasurer ("IST") and General Counsel informed the CAL MEC President that the agenda item to move the SFO base to Council 60 was "out of order" as it violated the AFA Constitution & Bylaws. Under Article III.A.3.of the AFA Constitution, the Executive Board makes the "final determination" on the "number and locations of Local Councils." Therefore, the CAL MEC had to obtain the Executive Board's approval before it could move the SFO base from Council 62 to Council 60. In addition, moving the SFO Flight Attendants to Council 60 just a few weeks before the Council 60 Local Officer ballot count could raise serious election concerns with the U.S. Department of Labor. Contrary to the direction provided by the AFA IST and General Counsel, the CAL MEC proceeded with a Special Meeting on September 18, 2015; but instead of moving SFO members to Council 60 LAX, it voted to move SFO members to Council 64 Houston. In addition to violating the Constitution, this could also raise concerns from the DOL as members were shifted from one Council to another after having participated in electing the officers of Council 62 and without having the opportunity to elect the officers of Council 64. While this could be explained due to a material change at the airline, in this case there was no such change.
What was the reason for moving SFO to Council 64 instead of Council 60?
According to the Council 64 Update e-newsletter published on September 19, 2015, the CAL MEC decision to move the SFO Flight Attendants to Council 64 was motivated by a desire of the CAL MEC to accomplish "the redistribution of voting power among the CAL Councils." Because the SFO base was part of Council 62, "by March of next year Council 62 would have a large majority of CAL votes, and would be able to push ANY agenda item through the MEC unimpeded in a roll call vote." Council 64 LECP stated, "this concentration of power is NOT what our organization should be based on." Had the decision to move the SFO Flight Attendants to Council 64 been implemented, Council 64 would have replaced Council 62 as the CAL Council with the most votes on the CAL MEC and by spring would likely "have a large majority of CAL votes." The AFA Constitution and Bylaws guards against political manipulation by ensuring the MEC recommends changes to the scope of Councils or creation of new Councils and the Executive Board makes the "final determination."
Was the CAL MEC vote to move SFO Flight Attendants to Council 64 without first obtaining Executive Board approval "out of order" since it was in violation of the AFA Constitution?
Yes. As mentioned above, only the Executive Board has the authority to determine the number and location of Local Councils. The CAL MEC's vote to move SFO required the approval of the Executive Board. When Council 64 acknowledged that moving SFO out of Council 62 was really about redistributing votes among the CAL Councils to deny Council 62 a majority, rather than for purposes of membership representation, the Executive Board stepped in and voted to affirm AFA International's finding that the CAL MEC's decision was "out of order" since it violated the AFA Constitution. Accordingly, the SFO based Flight Attendants continue to be represented by Council 62 Officers and Committees. There has been and will be no interruption to representation for these members.
What was the discussion during the Executive Board meeting when the CAL MEC requested a new Local Council in SFO?
The Executive Board discussed agenda item #1 with the request from the Continental MEC to open a new Council in SFO. The Executive Board has sole authority to establish Local Councils or create new Councils and assign election categories. Requests to open new Councils have been denied in the past for a variety of reasons.
General topics normally discussed surrounding a new Council includes:
- Current membership numbers,
- success of a membership drive,
- any projected growth and expected timing of such growth,
- the expressed desire of the members to have their own representatives,
- number of trained volunteers,
- membership interest in leadership roles,
- election category considerations,
- timing of start date for new Council and new leader training,
- unique issues with representation,
- review of representation from current Council for members
The notes of the meeting indicate that the primary reasoning behind not creating the Council at this time was because it is possible, and clearly desired, that a contract could be achieved soon and opening a base now would lead to a series of changes with temporary officers and multiple elections all at a time when leaders, members and staff would need to be focused on efforts to achieve a tentative agreement that can be ratified. Also and importantly, with a new CEO at United the conditions could change and lead to a contract and/or other business decisions, and time would allow for a better evaluation of how quickly or if anything will change before March.
The Executive Board has made it very clear that each of them fundamentally believes in representation where members are based when they can be self-sufficient and there is an expressed desire for self-governance from the membership. And, opening of a Council in SFO could be revisited before the planned growth.
7. Is the Executive Board considering moving forward with a process to merge the MECs in an effort to make it clear that we are united in our efforts to reach a Joint Collective Bargaining Agreement?
The Executive Board does not have that authority. It is important to note that merging the MECs is constitutional language. The language maintains a separate Grievance Committee and Contract Enforcement process, necessary Committees specific to unique contract items such as Benefits and representatives from each pre-merger airline on the Joint Negotiating Committee. It also maintains separate Local Councils until there is a joint contract. Finally, it provides for decision-making on any issue that only affects one premerger group to be done only by the Local Councils representing those members. In other words, the language is very focused on maintaining representation specific to each pre-merger airline even once the MECs are combined.