United Airlines Seniority

Seniority Merger Integration Update Including Initial Training Credit

Access the merged list

May 27, 2016

Earlier this week the Seniority Merger Integration Committee reported to the Joint Master Executive Council, including the locally elected presidents of councils representing all 24,000 Flight Attendants.

The Seniority Merger Integration Committee (SMIC) consists of representatives from each of our pre-merger airlines. The AFA-CWA Constitution and Bylaws (C&B), which is also reinforced by U.S. law, provides clear instruction on the committee role and authority in merging the three seniority lists to be implemented at the point of a ratified, single Flight Attendant contract at United Airlines.

The principle of ‘date-of-hire’ is codified in the constitution to integrate the list according to the schedule competitive bidding seniority that someone brought to the merger. This is protected for the integration of the lists.

The only two (2) items constitutionally required for resolution by the committee include:

  1. applying credit for initial training while maintaining relative seniority on each respective list, and
  2. methodology for integration of same day seniority dates.

To accomplish these two tasks, several key constitutional considerations were followed. Most important was to maintain relative positions on each pre-merger seniority list, thus preventing anyone from “leapfrogging” over another on their respective list. The C&B, as well as federal law, also require that SMIC respect all previous court and arbitration decisions and contractual applications. Given these parameters, SMIC was charged with verification of existing seniority lists, and subsequent merger of the three lists.

Determination of Training Adjustment
The pre-merger UAL Flight Attendant seniority is based upon the Date of Hire (DOH) principle, whereby competitive bidding seniority is determined by the first day of Flight Attendant initial training. At pre-merger CAL and CMI, competitive bidding seniority is based upon a date near the end of training. Given this difference in training policies, AFA-CWA C&B Section X.C.3.c requires an adjustment related to seniority accrual for initial training days so that each Flight Attendant on the merged seniority list receives credit for initial training days.

The SMIC decided unanimously to use the pre-merger UAL seniority list as the foundation document, and the other two lists were reconciled by providing a numerical adjustment for training days.

For the pre-merger UAL group, all “training start dates” were available as this is how competitive bidding seniority is determined. At pre-merger CAL and CMI, Flight Attendants were given competitive bidding seniority based upon a point in time near the end of training, such as graduation or first day on the line. Because of this, Company data was not kept consistently for pre-merger CAL and CMI Flight Attendant training start dates, especially prior to 1997.

Since the start date of training was not available for all Flight Attendants, the work of the SMIC was challenging. Through historical research and verified documentation recovered from individuals, the SMIC was able to determine an average number of days necessary to adjust for initial training.

It was necessary to apply an average in order to maintain the same order on each respective list – no leapfrogging. For Flight Attendants with current bidding seniority dates in the seniority range between 1/1/1956 and 5/22/1997, a calculated average of 49 days will be the training adjustment.

There was more complete data available during the years from 5/23/1997 to present day. In each case, the number of days is the number of training days that applied during the applicable period:

  • From 5/23/1997 until 12/31/2004, the training adjustment is 37 days.
  • From 1/1/2005 until 12/31/2013, the training adjustment is 31 days.
  • From 1/1/14 until 12/31/2014 the training adjustment is 37 days.
  • From 1/1/2015 until 2/1/2015 the training adjustment is 32 days.
  • From 2/2/2015 until present, competitive bidding seniority will be the first date of initial training, consistent with all pre-merger groups.

Because of their shared and mutual history and training, adjustments for CMI will mirror the CAL seniority adjustment. All decisions related to these training adjustments were based upon using all available resources, supported by the data collected, and applied in strict compliance with the Constitution.

Again, the SMIC unanimously agreed to the above training adjustments.

Integration of same-day seniority dates
After the initial training adjustment is applied, there must also be a methodology for integrating the three lists when two or more lists contain Flight Attendants with the exact same seniority date.

Whenever this happens, the method to “break the tie,” is to use the last three digits of the File/U-Number. The individual with the lower number is determined to be senior. For example, if the last three digits of two individuals are 111 and 222, then the person with 111 is deemed to be senior.

If there are multiple ties on same day, e.g., a class from one pre-merger group and a class from another pre-merger group, then the tie is broken for the most senior person in each group. Next, the tie between the second most senior person in each group is resolved, and so on.

In the event two people with the same day seniority also have the same last three digits in their U-Number (e.g., two people with 111), a secondary tie-breaker was established. The birthday is the next tie-breaker. The longer living is deemed to be senior.

This process ensured that the relative order on any given list was preserved and all ties were reviewed and resolved.

Remaining Activities
The SMIC has completed the seniority verification for the vast majority of all Flight Attendants on the three seniority lists. One task remaining is to verify the seniority of the 2,506 flight Attendants hired since 1/1/2015. Seniority Verification Letters were sent to these individuals on May 1, 2016.

These Flight Attendants have until June 15, to challenge the data that is on record. In late June, the SMIC will meet to review and assess challenges, and will promptly provide written responses. These additional seniority dates will be certified before the end of July, 2016.

Thereafter, the three complete lists will be ready to merge into a single list.

Once merged, SMIC will be in position to provide a comprehensive report to identify all details pertaining to the process.

U.S. Law Requires Enforcement of AFA Seniority Integration Policy
AFA’s seniority policy is also reinforced by US law. After the TWA Flight Attendants were stapled to the bottom of the seniority list at American, our union advocated for a change to the law that would provide a “fair and equitable” seniority integration for all airline workers affected by a merger. Again, fair and equitable is a process, but it does not ensure a “fair” outcome.

If seniority is left up to an arbitrator, all arguments and positions made by the parties involved will eventually be decided by someone who has no claim or stake in the end result. That is why we ensured that the law would also protect our union’s seniority integration policy. The McCaskill-Bond law states:

“if the same collective bargaining agent represents the combining crafts or classes at each of the covered air carriers, that collective bargaining agent’s internal policies regarding integration, if any, will not be affected by and will supersede the requirements of this section;”

This law affirms that our AFA seniority integration policy is the process that must be used when AFA is the representative of Flight Attendants at the merged airline.

AFA Seniority Integration Policy Used in Each Mega-Merger
In both the Delta and American mergers, AFA’s merger policy set the standard for Flight Attendant seniority integration. At Delta, management knew that Flight Attendants would have one more big reason to vote for a union unless management provided the same seniority security that AFA’s policy would provide. The Northwest and Delta lists were integrated according to AFA’s seniority integration principle.

AFA had the cleanest seniority list in the industry at US Airways, where many mergers took place based on AFA’s seniority integration principle. Further, our union had gained seniority protections under the law. In the American merger, APFA agreed to a seniority integration that mirrors AFA’s constitutional merger policy, protecting both pre-merger US Airways and American Flight Attendants.

Our merger policy was put in place nearly 25 years ago following mergers where the issue of seniority did nothing more than create division. This division plays out at a time when it is especially critical for Flight Attendants to stand together in unity. In mergers, our focus needs to be on making our seniority count with the best job security, pay, benefits, work rules and quality of life at the merged airline. Our policy provides a defined and transparent procedure for seniority integration.

The fate of our seniority should never hinge on a corporate decision that is outside of our control. With a detailed process in black and white we can focus our attention on our unity and work towards a single contract that reflects our valuable contributions to the airline.

Respectfully reported,

AFA Joint Master Executive Councils representing United Airlines Flight Attendants

Ken Diaz
MEC President

Kathleen Domondon
MEC President/Council 65

Randy Hatfield
MEC President

Andreas Curlee
MEC Vice President

Jose Torres
MEC VP/Council 65

Sheryl Kee
MEC Vice President

Jeff Heisey
MEC Secretary-Treasurer

Kevin Batey
President Council 14

Franko Ocasio
President Council 42

Richard Dagnall
President Council 5

Michael Blake
President Council 20

Cari Kershaw
President Council 60

Anthony King
President Council 7

Todd Failla
President Council 21

Shaun McNulty
President Council 62

Paul Antuna
President Council 8

Bill Carico
President Council 25

Jayson Jarrell
President Council 63

Ken Kyle
President Council 9

Nara Nakulan
President Council 26

Denny Wheeling
President Council 64

Chris Black
President Council 11

Andrew Fahy
President Council 27

Natt Brandt
President Council 36

Dante Harris
President Council 12

Rick Gonzalez
President Council 38

Shawn Dawkins
President Council 37

Seniority Integration Update (April 26, 2016)

Download the mailer (June 23, 2015): An Update from the Seniority Merger Integration Committee


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