Search This Blog

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Director Bourne video

Airline Division Director David Bourne adresses the membership on the upcoming TA vote;

Friday, April 29, 2011

A question of honesty

After reading the latest IAM flyer I felt compelled to respond. If you read the last blog post you already know their position on scope is entirely inaccurate b.s., so for this post let's talk about their assertions regarding sick time.

Here is a fact that has equal truth and merit which they forgot to add; 9 out of 10 leprechauns prefer unicorns as a means of travel when heading to the end of a rainbow. In other words Brothers and Sisters their claims are complete malarkey (lies).

The authors hope you won't call the Business Agents at CAL to confirm their preposterous statements. Well you can if you wish but I already did and here are the answers from the largest Locals. On both coasts neither Agent can remember a dependability related discharge in the last 13 years. In Houston the Agent there told me in the last five years there have been about five discharges due to dependability related issues. In a group of 3700 that represents about .03% of the entire membership affected annually by discharge due dependability.

In my mind there is no reason to dig further into their claims. I call B.S. and stand by my claim that these folks are nothing more than political hacks that long ago sold their principles for potential personal gain. That brings to mind another profession where anatomical attributes are sold for personal gain, and the authors are as believable as those that ply that trade. It really is a question of honesty. How can anything they spew be believed?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Our Scope’s been GUTTED?

I just read the latest IAM flyer regarding the gutting of scope and I thought at first this was meant to be a satirical piece. As I read further however I realized this is the typical blather and misdirection that this group uses to communicate its political message. When reading these missives lately I always half expect an ad from Lyndon LaRouche screaming "Let's colonize Mars because it's good for the economy!"

Let's examine the substance of the flyer for a minute and that is the gutting of the Scope of the Agreement. Brothers and Sisters as I've said in many past blog posts there are virtually no protections left in our current Agreement. In fact we would have an easier time gutting "Harvey the Rabbit" than gutting our protective provisions. The only substantive protection left in the agreement is the LOA that provides for 10/89 seniority protection. In examining that Letter however it has to be read in conjunction with Article X of the current Agreement where the layoff and recall provisions currently reside. Certainly the Company has to provide you a job if you have greater than 10/89 seniority but in reading Article X you are limited to bumping the most junior person on the system if you wish to maintain employment. We've all witnessed the devastating effects of members having to move across the country to maintain employment and in the last round of layoffs fewer than 40% of the members chose to follow the work due in no small part to this provision. Much of the destruction of the scope article occurred in bankruptcy and it's disingenuous at best, and an outright bald faced lie to be more accurate, to claim that what is proposed in the TA is in any way worse than what we currently have.

In examining scope language it is important that as many members are protected as possible, there are provisions for the reclamation of work, and that there are provisions to explore new work. The presence of exception clauses should be limited and if they are in the agreement they should have parameters around them. I believe this TA has achieved that goal and this is why; the scope in the TA protects the members against outsourcing new work, but if the Company does outsource there are several provisions to protect against the exception clauses. The first is expedited arbitration, the second is if work is outsourced no member can be laid off as a result, the third is an LOA protecting everyone (this includes members currently laid off who return to work) and not just those with greater than 10/89 seniority, the fourth is point protection for the largest of the unit in the San Francisco Maintenance center (which provides stability to the rest of the system), and the fifth is the new layoff and recall rules that allow members to truly exercise their seniority making it very difficult and costly for the Company to furlough people to other stations. As far as the reclamation of work and exploration of new work there is language regarding both of these contained in the article and therefore subject to the provisions of expedited arbitration if the Union feels they are violated. In our current agreement there are similar provisions, but they are constructed using precatory language in letters of agreement or in other words they are worthless. For the TA before us anyone that understands scope language, unlike the authors of the recent IAM piece, knows this is how scope should be constructed.

What is the measure of scope given what I've claimed in the above paragraph? I could rely on conjecture, whimsy and fabrication like the authors of the other piece, but let's try to examine my claims with some facts. The first fact is that United has decimated our craft and class much more than any other group within the Company. We have gone from a high of over 16,000 to approximately 4700 currently. This represents close to a 75% reduction in head count while the Company shipped our jobs overseas as well as to other domestic MRO providers. Contrast this to Continental mechanics since they have achieved similar scope language. During the last decade while every other carrier shed mechanics, of the major trunk carriers, only CAL actually added jobs. In fact they added about 15% more in head count throughout the decade growing by over 500 despite the looming specter of bankruptcy. These are a couple of very basic and striking facts and if the retort is the IBT can't defend the scope at United, my question is how did they accomplish this task at Continental? To me the answer is simple; one clause is defensible and the other is nonexistent.

Previous Unions on this property as well as Unions on other properties have tried to protect work instead of jobs. This seemed a worthwhile goal but it has produced mostly poor results throughout the industry. These types of positions don't produce the real results we need to attain in order to provide stability for the membership. One only needs to look at the explosion in the MRO industry over the last twenty years to see that's true. The real goal should be not to protect the work, but rather the jobs. We've all seen firsthand how the Company can manipulate the current nonexistent work protections. We only need to examine the 20% provision to see that these types of clauses are worthless. I say that because the work is gone under this provision and the Union is always left chasing the Company's numbers while more members go out the door. It is a never ending cycle of despair for those that are gone waiting to return as well as those still here waiting to be cut. Another example of protecting the work in our current agreement is protecting the C check lines. What happens when the OEM's decide to change from letter checks to something else? I bring this up because as I stated in a recent post Airbus stated in the MRO America's conference that they will be moving away from letters to something that they feel makes more sense and it sounds like they are getting initial buy in from the FAA. So let's say we kept the language protecting that work, but that work no longer exists, what protections have we secured for the membership? You know the answer already.

It really is disturbing that these very same people that forced the IAM out by claiming they were worthless, have now changed their tune and claim the IAM is the premier vehicle we need to use to restore our former glory. What's worse is they are using the same tactics which they previously employed to depose the IAM. Their shameless political cynicism Brothers and Sisters is the very definition of the term disingenuous.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

Wishing you and yours a Happy and Blessed Easter

Friday, April 22, 2011

A letter from Roger Apana

What follows is a letter from negotiator Roger Apana from Hawaii. I certainly agree with his position;


Mechanics at UAL are in a position along with their CAL brothers in getting the very best contract of all legacy airlines. The way to achieve this goal is to get to the Main Event in the shortest way possible right after a YES vote on this UAL TA. The Main Event I am talking about would be our final negotiation in which both UAL and CAL would be joined under a single carrier contract. By getting to the Main Event, we would have been the only labor group at UAL to be in position to move into amalgamation with 75% of our contract already resolved.

In the past couple of weeks, the UAL negotiating team traveled across the system to explain our Tentative Agreement. We faced very emotional crowds and listened to their complaints of what this TA lacked. The list in order of priority was all the same, Medical, Wages, Retirement and Retro. These items are also very important to your negotiators and we will continue to fight for all of this in the Main Event.

The fact of the matter is that we cannot work under Continental's agreement as well as they cannot work under our United TA. We need to have one contract that would combine both mechanic groups into single carrier status.

VERY IMPORTANT! When this UAL TA passes, CAL would team up with us and go IMMEDIATELY to the MAIN EVENT.

This is where the big fight begins; Medical, Wages, Retirement and Retro. These are the items that we need to focus on without being distracted by the other 200 pages of articles and letters of agreement. Those other non main issue items have already been settled in this TA. The reason for a YES vote on this TA is to move forward with a big portion of our contract in our pocket. Never in my 40yrs with UAL have we ever been able to reap benefits while still continuing to negotiate. This is an opportunity that should not be squandered.

We understand there is a lot of negative talk coming from a person who once headed AMFA and now is pushing the IAM. The IAM with its weak scope left us with just under 5000 mechanics from 15000. They allowed the use of our pension surplus to buy Pan Am yet never increased the pension plan while the Pacific route was so lucrative. They pushed for and gave us the failed ESOP. Finally they assigned someone from US Air to a seat on the board of UAL who later was the swing vote in favor of a failed merger which probably helped UAL go into bankruptcy. These new IAM people have never sat in our negotiations but declare themselves the authority on this contract. I have sat in these negotiations from the start and the #1 proposal was job security. We got the strongest job security and scope in the industry. Also we had to start from scratch because the previous contract out of bankruptcy had no snapback clause. The company was not going to give any of it back but we got most of it, plus more.

This a critical time in our careers where we must all take the initiative in gathering factual information. If you look at Northwest and Delta or US Air and America West, you will see the mediation process can really drag on. Also here at UAL our Flight Attendants, Pilots and Ramp are all under mediation and not moving. I really do believe that our position to vote YES and take advantage of 75% of our completed contract now would strengthen our position to move forward.         

TIME is on the company's side and is the reason why the other groups that chose mediation are not talking. The longer they make them wait the longer UAL gets to use their money. Our contract is worth millions and you can believe me they will make us wait if this contract fails.

I cannot emphasize more; it is easier to move forward and focus on Medical, Wages, and Retirement alone than it is with 200 plus pages of articles and LOAs. Please vote YES

Mahalo, Roger Apana

Thursday, April 14, 2011

MRO America’s Conference.

This week as part of my duties with the Airline Division, I attended the MRO America's Conference in Miami. I am working on a detailed report but would like to quickly share some items with you.

My first initial thought upon entering the trade show was that the amount of vendors and the scope of work they perform were truly overwhelming. Literally every part or aspect of any aircraft had some provider offering maintenance services or repair to the operators. I say this not to scare anyone; rather this is to inform because we need to know the competition we face so we can develop sound strategies on how best to counter these potential outsourcing attempts.

This was the 16th year of this conference and there were over 400 vendors with over 8000 attendees. By all accounts, worldwide, annually this is an over $50 billion dollar industry. Most MRO providers were expecting an increased workload over the course of the next five and ten years. The one caveat was oil and a speaker from Aerostrategies stated that with oil at $110/bbl airlines would remain flat as far as profit was concerned however the losses would accelerate exponentially the higher oil climbed. The purpose of his report was to outline the potential challenges MRO providers may face and should take into account. The speaker told the audience with oil over $120/bbl in his opinion "all bets were off".

As far as the MRO providers were concerned they were encouraged as several airlines indicated they were willing to entertain nose to tail airframe maintenance contracts. This trend could lead to a windfall for the OEM group. That trend could also work to the benefit of other MRO providers as they work to become contractors for the OEM manufacturers. For us this means we have to be very careful with the scope clauses of our agreements as we move forward.

When my detailed report is complete I will post it here.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Committee Recommendation

The Tentative Agreement that is now before you comes after two years of negotiations, both pre and post merger announcement. During this process we made a couple of major strategic decisions that were beneficial to the process.

The first decision was not to invoke federal mediation. This decision enabled us to continue the negotiations at a pace that we had more control of. While the other Unions made an early decision to invoke mediation, in our view, mediation is a process that you invoke only when nothing is being accomplished through direct negotiations. This was not the environment we were in, and that led to our determination that mediation would not be beneficial for us. That decision paid off by enabling us to freely schedule the negotiation dates and continue to make progress. While we wish our colleagues at the other Unions the best in their mediation sessions, we do not envy the current pace of their mediated negotiations.

The second decision was to not go into amalgamated negotiations without first completing our "Section 6" negotiations for a "stand‐alone" UAL contract. Last year, after the merger was announced and then again when the merger was approved by the government, the Company very strongly expressed its desire to enter into formal amalgamation negotiations to combine the UAL and CAL Mechanic contracts. The Company wanted to do this because it wants to set the upper bar or standard for a long‐term, amalgamated contract at the current CAL mechanics' agreement. We opposed the company's effort in part because of the large number of changes that needed to be improved in the current UAL CBA and because we fully intend to obtain economic and work‐rule improvements in amalgamation that are higher and greater than the current CAL mechanics' contract. There are so many differences between current CAL and UAL contracts that it was far better to fix a good portion of the contractual provisions and language in these pre‐amalgamation Section 6 negotiations, and then focus on the remaining, very important but uncompleted items when we are in amalgamated negotiations.

The TA immediately recovers many of the contractual rights and protections that were conceded and lost in the existing and prior contracts. The TA also has many improvements that will be beneficial to all of our UAL members. We have lived far too long under the existing wages that were a result of bankruptcy concessions, and we have seen too many of our coworkers laid off while our work has been outsourced due to the current weak scope language. But this TA is not the end of the road. It takes care of the more immediate need to raise our incomes and protect our work and our jobs as we go through this merger, while giving us an advantage going into the amalgamated negotiations, our second bite of the apple.

The decision that is now before you ‐‐ to either vote yes or no on this TA – comes during an extremely unusual situation that will not likely be repeated in our careers: both options will result in further negotiations. A yes vote means that we will immediately enter into the amalgamated negotiation process, and within 30 days, a joint committee will be established to work on alternative Health and Welfare options. Ultimately, a yes vote will allow the joint negotiating committee to focus on the core items – the compensation and benefits that we intend to obtain in amalgamation.

A no vote will also mean a return to negotiations, but the Company will almost certainly move those negotiations into NMB mediation, and those mediated negotiations will start at the existing UAL contract terms and will therefore be without any of the wage and work‐rule recoveries and improvements that are contained in the TA. In that no‐vote scenario, the Company will most likely slow the process down for what could be a very long time because the existing UAL contract is far cheaper for the Company than the CAL contract and the TA (in spite of the fact that the TA does not provide all of the compensation and benefit items that we want and deserve); and that savings could outweigh the Company's benefits of completing the amalgamation process.

In our view, if the TA is ratified, the Company will not be able to slow the process down nearly as long as it otherwise could. That's because the TA forces the Company to enter into amalgamation negotiations from a higher economic starting point. The Company therefore cannot stop or delay the amalgamation because the TA imposes additional costs without providing it with any of the benefits of a fully integrated operation. For the same reason, Wall Street will also push it to complete the amalgamation. The TA is, quite simply, a necessary, short‐term transitional step toward achieving an industry leading, long term contract. With its scope and other job‐related improvements, the TA places us solidly at the top of the legacy passenger airline industry and allows us to finish the job of amalgamating the contract from a higher level of wages, better work rules and much stronger job protections.

It's important to have a good understanding of the meaning and the benefits of the new language in this TA as you make your decision. We will be communicating through membership meetings, an online teleconference, and written publications in order to properly disseminate the information. Please take the time to learn all you can as we enter the voting process.

For all the above reasons, your negotiating committee strongly recommends a YES vote.


Your Negotiating Committee