Union Update

Air Line Pilot, February 2004, p.36

Burdensome Reporting Regulations Delayed

In a stinging rebuke to the Bush administration’s efforts to target unions and drain resources needed for their advocacy of workers, a federal judge has delayed revision of union financial reporting regulations for 1 year.

The complex changes to information requirements and a move to computerized forms for LM-2 reports were unveiled in October 2003, just 2 months before they would have gone into effect. The rules would have required detailed reporting on all aspects of union financial transactions—far exceeding regulations governing private companies and even government agencies themselves.

The rules would require detailed electronic reporting on each transaction larger than $5,000 and on any transactions that in the aggregate total $5,000 and would increase the administrative costs for union accounting several-fold. Administration officials never hid their desire to single out unions for such detailed scrutiny, even as public corporations across the nation have themselves been embroiled in large-scale financial scandals.

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler set her sights on the U.S. Department of Labor and Labor Secretary Elaine Chao in criticizing the plan: "The Secretary has simply failed to offer any reasonable justification for requiring such far-reaching changes to take place in a period of seven weeks," Kessler wrote. Kessler went so far as to say that the complicated and expensive reporting requirements on nearly 5,000 unions, including ALPA, would have caused "irreparable harm" to the labor organizations.

ALPA and other AFL-CIO affiliates will continue to work with their allies in Congress to seek a legislative remedy to the regulations, which are now scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2005.

NATCA, FAA Agree to Contract Extension

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association announced in December 2003 that it had reached agreement with the FAA on a 2-year contract extension that includes cost savings for the agency, capacity improvements for the National Airspace System, and safety enhancements for air travelers.

NATCA agreed to a performance-based pay system that ties part of controllers’ pay to reductions in the number of runway incursions and operational errors. The new agreement will save the FAA as much as $100 million in pay rules changes over the life of the contract.

In addition, NATCA agreed to rewrite all of the side agreements and memoranda of understanding that the FAA brought forward and sought to renegotiate as a result of a report by the Department of Transportation Inspector General. One of the MOUs to be rewritten involves the National Airspace Redesign Project. NATCA agreed to rework that MOU to improve the systemic designing capacity, which will lead to increased efficiency of flights in some of the most congested air corridors in the country.

"This agreement is the culmination of hard work on the part of both sides working in a spirit of collaboration," NATCA President John Carr says. "We are particularly pleased to see the gains in safety and efficiency that will be achieved with this deal. It’s a win-win situation for the flying public."

Despite lengthy discussions, the two sides were not able to reach a staffing agreement.

"Too few controllers are operating the system right now, and we are far from seeing a bubble of hiring needed to prepare for the coming wave of controller retirements," says Carr. "The FAA believes we have plenty of controllers. But we agreed to put this issue to the side for the good of the system so that everyone can enjoy the cost savings and safety and efficiency enhancements that this new agreement brings."—Source: NATCA

Flight Attendants to Merge with CWA

On Dec. 1, 2003, members of the Association of Flight Attendants voted to join forces with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) in a historic vote. Of those who cast valid ballots, 57 percent voted for the merger. In all, 47 percent of the AFA’s membership voted. The merger took effect on Dec. 31, 2003.

"Our members have made their voices heard and decided that our union should tap into the strength and resources that the CWA and its 700,000 members offered to us in this merger," says AFA International President Patricia Friend. "Through this partnership, we will be better positioned to fight on behalf of flight attendants and our issues in the increasingly hostile airline industry.

"Today is a proud day in our union’s history. We begin a new chapter of the AFA, one that is marked with opportunities that were not available to us as a single-craft union. The merger will allow the AFA to retain our identity, autonomy, structure, and ability to control the agenda in fighting on behalf of flight attendants, but with the added strength of more than 700,000 workers on our side."

The AFA began as the Air Line Stewardesses Association in 1945. The union was affiliated with ALPA as the Steward and Stewardess Division from 1960 until 1973, when the modern AFA was born. In 1984, the AFL-CIO issued the AFA its own charter.

The AFA is known today for its innovative campaigns on behalf of flight attendants. The union first developed and implemented its trademarked CHAOS—Create Havoc Around Our System—strike campaign in 1993 at Alaska Airlines.

The AFA has lost more than 10,000 members over the past 2 years. Flight attendants at many carriers have been forced to take painful pay cuts as their airlines navigate the bankruptcy process or teeter on the verge of insolvency because of the massive restructuring in the airline industry set off by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

In October 2003, delegates to the AFA’s 30th annual Board of Directors meeting in Boston voted overwhelmingly to endorse a merger agreement with the CWA and to send the final decision on whether to merge to a membership vote.—Source: AFA

Wireless Discounts for Labor Union Members

The AFL-CIO’s Union Plus program is offering Cingular wireless discounts for union members. Cingular is the second largest wireless company in the United States and a unionized company. The service is provided through Cingular and Let’s Talk.

Union-member-only discounts for new and current Cingular wireless customers include the following:

• 10 percent savings on monthly access charges for selected local plans, and

• 5 percent savings on monthly access charges on selected national and other plans.

New customers will have to sign a 2-year contract; existing customers will have to agree to an 11-month extension.

New customers may order on line ( or call 1-800-356-9752 and ask for the Union Plus rate. The monthly access charges will be 10 percent off the prices listed for local plans and 5 percent off of prices listed for selected national and other plans on the Cingular site. Available wherever Cingular wireless service is offered.

Existing Cingular customers may also be eligible for additional Cingular wireless discounts by calling 1-800-356-9752 and asking for the Union Plus rate. The monthly access charges will be 10 percent off the prices listed for a local plan and 5 percent off of prices listed for selected national and other plans on the Cingular site.

Not all rate plans are eligible to receive Cingular wireless discounts. Offer excludes promotional, family, and $19.99 plans. Cingular reserves the right to deny an application for discount if a customer is not on a discount-eligible rate plan.—Source: Union Privilege and Communications Workers of America