The union representing 27,000 American Airlines flight attendants has filed a grievance accusing the legacy carrier of implementing a strict new combined attendance and performance policy for former US Airways and current AA cabin crew members, despite promoting working conditions that may actually cause members to require more sick leave rather than less time off.
Nearly five years after American Airlines and US Airways merged to form the largest airline in the world, flight attendants from the two carriers are still working under slightly different work rules and disciplinary procedures.
Now, management has outlined a plan to bring the two groups together under a single performance and attendance policy and it seems as if no one is especially happy with the new rules.
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) which represents American Airlines’ more than 27,000 cabin crew members, has filed a “presidential grievance” over the new policy. Labor leaders say the strict new rules fail to recognize working conditions that make the strict new attendance rules untenable.
“Today the company announced a new attendance and performance program that will begin October 1, 2018,” APFA National President Lori Bassani wrote in a letter to members on August 16. “While we understand the need to have all flight attendants under one program and while the company says they spent a lot of time ‘thinking about what the new program should look like,’ it is our opinion that this severe new policy did not take into account some of the realities of our jobs and work place.”
According to Bassani the new rules could unfairly punish employees suffering from health and safety issues that the company has failed to address. Specifically, the union points to toxic uniforms “that continue to make thousands of flight attendants sick just by being in proximity with them,” toxic fume events on aircraft “reported daily” and “inhumane” work schedules.
Additionally, labor leaders note that insufficient rest after long work days, a lack of time and access to meals between flights, poor climate control in cabins and the inability to avoid ill passengers in a confined workspace could easily cause flight attendants to exceed allowed sick days under the new policy.
Under the new rules, employees could face termination after a set number of absences, even if the cause of the absence is related to workplace conditions. In many cases, flight attendants recovering from an injury or illness will lose the ability to work modified or light duty positions under the new rules.
“We’d also like to know whatever happened to the ‘best of both’ that was touted pre-merger? This policy is definitely not a marriage of the best of both policies,” Bassani told members. “While we were able to keep the company from introducing a ‘dual-track’ policy, which combined attendance and performance issues that would have put our members on a fast track to termination, and reducing the point value of specific events, we believe the company could have offered a one-time reprieve to their flight attendants, especially in light of all of the problems and changes we have had to endure recently.”