September 2018 Business Agents' Report

Lying Liars and the Lies They Tell

It has generally been our policy not to address the barrage of misleading information, personal attacks, recycled fliers from the 1990’s, half-truths and outright lies that have been circulated around the Base for a while now because we know that most folks remember what happened when Jim Seitz previously had an opportunity to lead. But, in some cases, we must make an exception. That’s because Jim’s lies now have a real possibility of hurting our members. It is there that we must draw the line.

First off, none of the stuff we are going to talk about is new. Our Stewards here at SFO have been briefed on all of this information from the beginning on an ongoing basis and, in turn, this information has been passed to the floor. Throughout the last year or so, we have also spoken to many of you directly about this issue, as we have fielded many questions on the topic. But we also recognize that how much of the entire story each individual member knows is always a function of many factors. Therefore, we think it is a very good exercise to go back and summarize the entire process for you in one shot. Then, you be the judge.

The first issue we will discuss is the attendance policy and the assertion that it came into being through an LOA between the UAL and the IBT. That is simply false. Jim is practicing an age-old guerilla tactic here: If you say something enough times, people will eventually start to take it as fact. But we did not agree to this policy, folks. The Company announced and implemented the policy all by itself. And, at that time, we immediately began internal discussions, including consultations with attorneys, to determine our options for dealing with it. Through this process, one thing became very clear: There is no law prohibiting any company from implementing an attendance policy in any workplace, even if is a point-based policy. Also, United’s establishment of a point-based attendance policy does not, in and of itself, violate the Collective Bargaining Agreement. That is the reality of the situation. However, no provisions of an attendance policy can violate the CBA. And we believe that some of the provisions and related practices of the attendance policy do, in fact, violate the CBA. We will detail those for you later.

But first, back to the beginning. There are two primary strategies when dealing with a policy that contains any provisions that may violate the CBA. The first is to file a single grievance against the entire policy in the hopes that you can get the whole thing thrown out by an arbitrator. This is more of a longshot approach unless the entire premise of the policy violates the CBA. The second strategy is to file individual grievances against any portion of the policy which is offensive to the CBA as it is implemented. This is generally the more effective approach, as it focuses directly on the offending provisions or practices contained in the policy. At the time, we decided to do both, despite it being redundant. 

Now, there was one particularly offensive clause of the attendance policy that we are sure you will all remember: The ‘conversion’ table. When the Company applied these conversions for the transition to the new attendance policy, many members suddenly found themselves precariously close to zero points. Although we believed that these conversion tables were indefensible and that, ultimately, once they were brought before an Arbitrator, any terminations that resulted from their use had a very good chance of not meeting the ‘just cause’ standard, there was still a significant concern.

Because it takes time to get through the Arbitration process. And many leaders were uncomfortable with having any members who were unfairly terminated sitting out there for an extended period of time waiting for the process to work itself out and trying to figure out how to put food on the table. This was the primary issue at hand when the Business Agents met to discuss the ramifications of the attendance policy in 2017. And that argument proved to be one that was very persuasive. So, with that in mind, it was agreed that the single-grievance approach would be discarded in return for all members being allotted a full balance of seven points. That is the agreement that was made. And whether or not an individual agrees or disagrees with that decision, as is their right, it was made because of concern for the membership.

Additionally, and most importantly, the Union expressly reserved the right to file individual grievances against the policy as it was applied and we have been doing so from the beginning. We have currently identified 6 buckets of et al grievances (which are filed on behalf of the entire system) containing a total of nearly 75 grievances. They are as follows: 

1) No Union representation during management interactions

2) Being assessed Points while under a Doctors Care

3) Progressive Discipline (due to skipping steps for multiple incidents)

4) Not allowing Kincare usage for Self for 2017

5) Incentive Program discrimination against protected leaves (FMLA/Kincare)

6) Converting whole bid vacation weeks for FMLA

7) Lack of full point restoration after 1 year

Most of these grievances, with the exception of #7, are on the 3rd Step Docket and we will be sure to keep you informed of their progress as they move forward in the grievance process (as they had been in a holding pattern pending the outcome of the MCO discussions between the SF Office of Labor Standards Enforcement and UAL).

Now we must ask you to consider a simple question. If we are in agreement with the attendance policy, why would we have this many grievances against it?

Now let’s talk about the San Francisco Minimum Compensation Ordinance (MCO). Here is where it gets just plain weird when it comes to Jim and whoever is helping him produce these fliers. They have decided to forego all integrity in a blatant attempt to dupe the membership and claim responsibility for something with which they had no involvement for some political gain. It is sad.

To give you a clear picture, we are going to go back to the beginning again, to the time when the attendance policy was announced. After searching state and local laws and attendance ordinances, we initially did not find anything that would affect the implementation of the attendance policy. However, one of our Shop Stewards at the time did find the MCO and called the San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement to ask about it. After reporting to us that the Compliance Officer had agreed to look into the matter, we immediately assigned the Grievance Secretary to follow up. Since then, the Union has been kept appraised of the situation directly by the Compliance Officer, first through the Grievance Secretary, then through one of our attorneys, which we called shortly thereafter. Also, from the beginning, the Compliance Officer made it clear that she wanted only one point of contact from the IBT calling for information about the situation. That point of contact was assigned by us. Also made abundantly clear was the fact that this process and subsequent discussions were solely to occur between the Compliance Officer and United Airlines.

Once United was held to be out of compliance, there began an extended period of negotiations between United and the Compliance Officer and we were not involved in those discussions. All we were able to do is wait like everyone else and occasionally have our attorney check in with the Compliance Officer to gauge the progress. That is something that has been briefed extensively.

And it is an undeniable 100% fact that this group of ALTA jokers had absolutely no involvement whatsoever during these discussions. Period.

Let's look at a couple of the other more egregious lies told by the lying liars. First, we have not ever told anyone that the MCO “did not apply because we had a CBA”. That statement was made in reference to the California Paid Sick Leave Act (and it is true, by the way). Why the heck would say that about the MCO when we knew that the SF Compliance Office had informed United that it was out of compliance? It does not add up, folks. This is another trick typically employed by Jim and his bullcrap machine. These guys have completely lost all morality.

More importantly, and the primary reason for this information piece, is ALTA’s claim that “Employees cannot be disciplined for using their sick leave”. This is simply not true and we think it is dangerous and irresponsible for this type of false statement to be hurled at the membership. We do not want anyone taking this to heart and then getting themselves in trouble because of it. The irresponsibility and complete lack of integrity shown by Jim and his accomplices here, although very characteristic, is extremely troubling because of its potential negative impact on our membership!

Lastly, and also profoundly disturbing is ALTA’s latest attempt to smear the IBT using a bunch of made up statements supposedly attributed to the SF Compliance Officer. All of the Union’s interaction with her have been amicable and courteous and we have a tremendous amount of respect for the thoughtfulness and diligence with which she handled this process. It is, therefore, simply disgusting to us that these characters would stoop that low.

Now we want to focus on the agreement between the Compliance office and UAL regarding the MCO and what it means to you. The MCO has two primary elements. First, it allows for 12 paid days off per year. As it relates to you, this means that the first 12 days off in any calendar year, such as holidays, vacation, sick leave or any other paid days off, must be considered MCO days. Therefore, they cannot be subject to any point reduction or discipline as a result. The second element of the MCO is the allowance for 10 unpaid days in a calendar year. Unpaid MCO days could only be used when an employee has exhausted all paid time off available to him/her including Vacation Time, Sick Time, and Holidays (including Christmas). Because of that, unpaid MCO days can be utilized very rarely when it comes to our members.

Additionally, another condition of the agreement between the Office of Labor Standards Enforcement and United Airlines is the requirement for an audit to determine who has had points reduced and/or discipline assessed in violation of the MCO and for modifications to be made to their attendance record to reflect the MCO protections. That audit is ongoing. If you have any questions about the MCO and its implications, please see your Shop Steward or Chief Steward. If you are getting your information from anyone else, there is a good chance it is not going to be accurate. Remember, however, that it is ultimately the Company’s responsibility to comply with the agreement.

The Kincare Issue

We have been receiving many questions about the use of Kincare and how it relates to the Attendance Policy modification due to the MCO.

First, as we mentioned in the prior piece, we have an active grievance to address the issue of using Kincare for yourself in the year 2017 because the effective date of the California modification to Kincare usage was in early 2017. Many members were not afforded the opportunity to use Kincare for themselves at any time during 2017 because there was no notification of the change by the company. As we also mentioned, that grievance is ongoing and we will report any progress we make going forward.

However, what is most concerning our members now, is the rumor that any Sick Days taken them that fall under the 12 paid MCO days at the beginning of each calendar year will be automatically run concurrently as Kincare days by the Company. If it is true, the Union would certainly not be in agreement. Therefore, if any member calls in sick and is automatically assigned a Kincare day, we would like you to immediately contact your Shop Steward.

Teamsters National Black Caucus Meeting

There will be a Chapter Introduction Meeting of The Teamsters National Black Caucus (TNBC) at Teamsters Local 315 on Saturday, October 20th, from 9am-11am. The meeting will be hosted by Teamster Locals 315, 853, and 856. The purpose of the meeting will be for members to learn more about the TNBC to possibly start a NorCal Chapter. Incoming TNBC Chair James Curbeam will be the special guest speaker. All Teamster members are welcome. Teamsters Local 315 is located at 2727 Alhambra Ave in Martinez. We hope that you can make it by.

eTa System Deployment at SFO Leads to Confusion about Shift Trades

It is our understanding that the recently deployed eTa system at SFO may unfortunately not be allowing our members to schedule a second back-to-back

(double) shift in the same week. Article 7 (Hours of Service) is very clear on this matter. Specifically, Paragraph 7.M.1.d reads as follows:

Employees may trade for a maximum of four (4) additional shifts in any work week. Of these four (4) additional shifts, employees will be allowed to work a maximum of two (2) back-to-back (double) shifts per week, subject to the Duty Limitations set forth in Paragraph I above. (For example, an employee normally scheduled to work day shift with Saturday and Sunday off may work additional trade shifts on Monday and Tuesday, but would not be eligible to work a trade shift on Wednesday; he would then be eligible to work additional trade shifts on Thursday and Friday.)

This language is clear and unambiguous. If you are not able to schedule trades conforming to the example shown, please contact your Supervisor to make sure that the trades are entered into the system correctly. If you are denied the ability to execute this type of trade, please contact your Shop Steward.

Occupational Injuries

If you are injured at work, please remember that you are supposed to be coded OCC (Occupational) for payroll purposes from the very beginning. Some folks were under the impression that an employee would be coded N-Time (Sick) until the investigation and certification of the injury as Occupational by Sedgwick. That is simply not true. You must be coded as OCC and if it is subsequently found that your injury is not work-related, the Company has the right to reclassify that time as N-Time or UNP (Unpaid), depending on your sick balance. If you are injured and you paycert does not indicate OCC from the date of your injury forward, then please contact your Supervisor to have it changed. If you have any questions or concerns, please see your Shop Steward. 

Hurricane Maria Raffle Winner

The winning raffle ticket was pulled at the August Dayshift Craft Meeting. We would like to congratulate the owner of the winning ticket, Mary Gutekanst who is an Avionics technician in SFORQ. Mary is the proud new owner of a Vizio 50-inch flat screen TV. Thanks to all who participated in this worthy cause!

Grievance Update

There were two days of System Board hearings in September. We had three termination cases and four contract cases on the docket. Ultimately, two grievances were withdrawn (Recall bypass) due to lack of merit and one grievance was settled (Lead Overtime Bypass). The remaining four cases were heard on September 11th and 12th.

There is also an Arbitration scheduled for October 17th in Chicago regarding the MEAL P (post Date of Ratification).

Stay Informed

The communication process is an extremely important part of what we do to represent our folks here at SFO and, as we have been outlining for quite some time, we have been blasting out the BA Report along with any other communication we get from the Airline Division or the International to anyone who registers at the TeamstersSFO website. Additionally, there are weekly meetings held with the Shop Stewards to pass on any important informational items that may come up during the month. It is crucial to our process that every area on every shift has Shop Steward representation and that the Shop Steward give, at a minimum, weekly briefings to his/her crew so that all the information gets to our members. We feel that it is essential for all of our members to be engaged and informed at all times. Therefore, we encourage all of you to spread the word to your fellow technicians to go to the TeamstersSFO website and click on the ‘email signup’ tab to get on the list. And, most importantly, we urge you to also consider getting more involved. Every month, on the last Thursday, we hold Craft Meetings at Local 856. At these meetings, the membership hears reports from the Business Agents and other members of the SFO Committee on Grievances, Safety, Member Assistance, and TSAP. Additionally, all members have an opportunity to ask questions and to bring up topics for discussion. Check your IBT Bulletin Board for dates and times and make it a point to stop by. 

As always, stay informed!

In Solidarity

Mark DesAngles                    Javier Lectora
Business Agent                     Business Agent
Local 986                               Local 856