Brothers and Sisters,
The 4th of July weekend has arrived. I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a safe and enjoyable holiday. Things have been busy at the airport and the Union Hall. I have some updates to share with you.
Contract Negotiations remain ongoing. There are two main groups at the table; Fleet Service and Maintenance. The two groups meet separately with the company, but coordinate with each other on the matters being discussed. The negotiating committees are comprised of an equal amount of TWU and IAM representatives. Communication and cooperation with our counterparts from the IAM has been going well. Outstanding seniority issues will be decided by an independent arbitrator. The TWU/IAM Joint Association will have one Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that will cover the TWU and IAM memberships in their entirety when the process is complete. As much as everyone is anxious to get this matter behind us, the negotiating process must be handled methodically and without haste. We are the only organized group on the property that has been tasked with combining two individual and long term contracts into one. To make this process more complex, the TWU has several different contract books in place that cover the different work groups. Many articles in the contracts appear in all the individual CBA’s; these are commonly referred to as “flow through.” We must be sure the language is accurate throughout all the agreements, and negotiating with AA management at times can be described as difficult at best. Having said that, I have been given regular updates about what is happening at the bargaining table. Periodic updates are provided to the membership through e-mails and also on your smart phone via the TWU International app. If you are not receiving the updates, please call the Hall or see any Union Representative.
Employee Busses: There have been an enormous amount of complaints with the bus service from all of the employee groups. The issues cover a broad range of topics and include the following: late runs, missed runs, overcrowded busses, overcrowded bus stops, traffic delays, outsourced vendors on board, issues with Envoy employees, rude drivers, unsafe driving, inadequate air conditioning, mechanical breakdowns, and the lack of bus availability after mandatory overtime. If you experience problems, please call the hall or text an officer with specific times and bus run information; and pictures are great. Enormous pressure is being placed on the vendor and managers in charge of the bus service. The bottom line is this: transportation to and from your vehicle is a contractual right and the company has the responsibility to manage it correctly. Vice President Franco Tedeschi has personally gotten involved to correct the problems. A meeting with Aires Shuttle managers, AA management, and the TWU took place recently to address the ongoing problems. We will keep you posted.
Mandatory Overtime has become absolutely ridiculous as of late. The problems with the FSC shift bid directly contribute to our members being held for mandatory overtime on a daily basis. To address this issue, several conversations with Dale Salisbury and Rob Koval have occurred. This week the involuntary shift of the Alaska PM crew’s starting time was ceased after very direct communications took place with these managers. Additional shifts will be posted to help alleviate the need for all this mandatory overtime. The frustration and unhappiness of the workforce over these issues was conveyed to management in extremely direct language. The current situation and the subsequent effects on the fall bid will continue to be addressed.
Workers Compensation Changes. Premise Health is essentially replacing AA Medical throughout the system. Here in Chicago, the opening of these clinics are happening now. For the time being, Premise Health will operate in the same facilities as AA Medical did, this being the GEM Building and Room 100. Minor changes are being implemented at this point, but a full makeover will happen in the months to come. The GEM Building is slated to be torn down as part of the overall airport expansion construction project. When this occurs, the two ORD Premise Health locations will be combined into a single new facility at the terminal. Among the change from AA Medical to Premise Health is the scope of the services that are provided. Premise Health will now be an option for medical services in the event that you get injured at work. Workers Compensation laws in Illinois allow two choices in medical care for injured employees. Any referral from the initial medical provider that is chosen counts as that single choice. Immediate care facilities such as UIC in Terminal 2 also count as a choice, but emergency rooms do not count as a choice. Illinois law allows individual employers to implement a Preferred Provider Program (PPP). This law essentially limits the injured employee to use doctors and medical providers that are within the network. The decision of the employee to not use the medical providers in the PPP network is considered the use of a choice. American Airlines enacted the PPP network on April 1, 2016 in Illinois. Essentially, the result was that injured employee had far less treatment options. Instead of having the choice of two medical providers and an emergency room visit, it became one doctor, the PPP network or an immediate care facility, and the emergency room visit. Anything outside of those limited choices is considered to be an uncovered medical treatment; potentially our membership could be liable for considerable out of pocket costs as a result of being injured at work. In an effort to seek relief, Local 512 had its attorneys send a letter to the Managing Director of the Workers Compensation Department at HDQ. After much negotiation, a compromise was reached to allow the following: The new Premise Health medical facility (which replaced AA Medical) will not be considered as a choice when using their services for an injury at work, and the UIC immediate care facility in Terminal 2 will not be considered as a choice when making a single visit for their services for an injury at work. The additional remaining options include using (or refusing) to use the PPP network (which counts as a choice), the use of a personal medical provider and any subsequent referral (which counts as a choice), and of course, an emergency room visit. We will monitor the level of care at the Premise Health facility. If you get injured at work or have questions, call the hall and speak to an officer.
29(d) Grievances. We have two presidential grievances on the Fleet Service docket. A Local President can file a grievance on behalf of their entire membership. The first is about having a Union Representative present throughout a Post-Accident or Reasonable Cause Drug and Alcohol Test. Variations to the execution of the policy, changes from past practice, and outright violations of the Collective Bargaining Agreement made taking this case to arbitration absolutely necessary. We spent a full day in front of the Arbitrator, and expect the case to continue for a minimum of an additional day. Drug testing at AA has become the norm rather than the exception as of late. We will keep you updated on the progress of this case. The other grievance has to do with Pay Seniority Accrual while off payroll due to an injury at work. Violations of the CBA are a result of language changes in the 9/12/2012 contract; the result is considerable pay shortages to hundreds of TWU Members throughout the system. Because of the filing of the grievance, the company now recognizes the problem. The enormity of the research involved, and the required audit of the pay records for every TWU member that went off payroll since September 12, 2012 due to an injury on duty, has caused a delay in the grievance being answered. Subsequently, due to time limitations, the grievance has been placed on the docket. I expect some resolution this fall. I will keep you updated.
2016/2017 Deicing season preparations are underway. Initial preliminary discussions have been held with the company and I expect some substantive discussion in the next couple of weeks. Our deicing team has proven themselves to be by far the best in the system. Our membership is well trained and proficient. The cost savings enjoyed by AA due to the efficient use of glycol and fuel is something that simply cannot be ignored when planning the scope of the work for the upcoming season. The ability of our workforce to provide timely operations has a far reaching impact on the entire system. Recognition of the overall benefits for AA in utilizing Local 512 deicers for all their deicing needs here at ORD is a no brainer. And while the overall deicing operation has failed miserably in the past due to the performance of others, the ORD AA Deicing Team has stepped up to the plate and salvaged the operation under the most difficult of circumstances. The fine work of our team has been recognized by upper management at HDQ, government agencies, and by the vendors that supply AA with the resources utilized in the operation. Our deicing team has been described as among the finest in the country, and possibly the world. As such, I am confident that the historic efforts of our deicing team will be duly rewarded. I will update you as expeditiously as possible.