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Old 03-05-2008, 08:17 PM   #1  
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Adlerdriver's Avatar
Joined APC: Jul 2007
Position: 767 Captain
Posts: 3,549
Default FDX - Reserve improvements next contract

Hey All,
I just wanted to throw out some ideas for discussion with respect to contract improvements. Specifically reserve. I’ve sent these ideas to the negotiating chairman and my block rep. I apologize for the lengthy post but I’d appreciate your time to consider these suggestions.

I’m throwing these out to get some feedback, possible additional ideas or improvements to what I propose. These are not original ideas of mine and everything I propose is currently in practice with at least one other airline. Here’s the basic text of what I’ve sent to Fedex ALPA:

As we approach the start of new contract negotiations, I would really like to see some improvements in the reserve system and I know I’m not alone. I have some suggestions based on some previous experience I’ve had with another airline. These are just some basic ideas that probably need additional changes but it’s a start.

The first and easiest improvement that really needs to happen would benefit all Fedex pilots. We need “real time” bid line adjustments. This has been available to most major airline pilots for at least a decade. I’ve used a system that gave immediate results upon hitting the enter key. The fact that we must wait hours to get the results of a trip trade request is pathetic. As I understand the current system, a computer considers the legality of the request but the request itself must be “executed” by the schedulers when they have time. I have called schedulers on many occasions to inquire about pending requests on a particular trip. Most of the time, they look to see if there are pending requests and “execute” them while I am on the phone. There is absolutely no reason that the schedulers need to be “in the loop” on this. We need to upgrade the trip trade/VIPS system to automate it completely, deliver responses to bid line adjustments in real time and minimize back log during high use periods. We put men on the moon 40 years ago with slide rules and computers with 1/1000th the capability of today’s laptop, so I’m going to have a hard time believing the typical excuse about server capacity, etc. Not to mention the fact that I saw this being done at United Airlines 10 years ago using non-windows computer technology for a pilot force of over 10,000.

Additionally, our current reserve really needs improvement.
First, we need to get the company to provide accurate information to pilots on reserve. The reserve leveling list is basically useless unless a pilot is willing to look up individual calendars for other pilots on the list. It is also in need of “real time” updates. Currently, the list must be updated by schedulers. If a pilot is given an assignment, that information is not immediately reflected on the leveling list. The assignment will not be reflected on the list until the schedulers choose to act and update the list. What‘s the point of listing a pilot as #1 on the reserve list when he’s been given an assignment through the end of his availability for the month or actually on sick leave? A pilot on reserve should be able to look at the list and accurately determine where he stands for a future assignment. This would be a significant improvement for pilots to be able to plan their lives on a daily basis. It would also allow some basic monitoring of schedulers and their efforts. As it stands now, there is little to no way for ALPA to provide any kind of watch over potential contractual abuses in reserve assignments and pursue potential grievances. This culture of schedulers keeping us in the dark and holding their cards to their chest needs to go.

I would also like to suggest some potentially radical changes that would drastically improve reserve quality of life, especially in light of the high percentage of commuters at Fedex. These changes would also have the potential to reduce scheduler workload and improve reliability. I have seen this in practice and it works.
Here’s a basic outline of my suggestion:
Allow pilots on reserve to aggressively “pick up” trips in open time. This is a step beyond “First Fly”. It would allow reserve pilots to pick up unassigned trips on a first come-first served basis. Trips would not be available for pick up by reserves until they fell under the control of schedulers and were no longer available for trades by line-holders (right now this is normally 0900 LBT prior to the day of the trip).
At UAL, reserve pilots were placed into 4 categories based on the number of days they were available for reserve (i.e. 1-day, 2-day, 3-day and multi-day). Pilots were only allowed to pick up trips that matched their availability days or were 1 day shorter (for example, a 3-day reserve could pick up a 3-day trip or a 2-day trip, but not a 1-day trip). Obviously, our trips are quite a bit different than a passenger carrier’s and similar restrictions would probably need to be adjusted. The goal of such restrictions would be to allow trip pick up by the maximum number of pilots while still retaining an adequate number of reserves available for longer trips. All the fleets have 1-day hub turns and out and backs. They also have some 2-5 day trips with long layovers, deadheads, longer flights or weekend layovers. Right now all fleets also have the 6-8 day pairings with deadheads and/or city purity. Trips longer than these pretty much fall to the MD-11 or Airbus SIBA and involve international flying. One possibility to ensure reserve availability for long trips would be to restrict pick up of trips shorter than 7 or 8 days to reserve pilots who are available for 10 days or less. This would keep pilots with longer reserve availability open for assignment to longer MD-11 or SIBA trips and still allow most reserve pilots to pick up the shorter trips (i.e. 7/8 days or less) that make up the bulk of our flying. It may even make sense to have different restrictions in place for each fleet so the unique flying in one fleet won’t limit options in another. Finally, it would also make sense to limit reserve pilots to trips with show times in their reserve period to avoid them effectively swapping their A reserve for B, etc.

When to allow the “pick ups” to begin is another area of consideration. At UAL, trips fell under the control of the schedulers 28 hours prior to the departure of each trip, not at an arbitrary time of day. Each trip was available for reserve pilots to pick up during a 4 hour window from 28 hours to 24 hours prior to departure. The trips had to be assigned no later than 24 hours prior to departure (assuming they were open at least 28 hours prior). This precluded schedulers from “holding” trips until the last minute. If a trip came open inside 24 hours prior to departure due to sick call or some other scheduling issue, the trip was still left unassigned for 4 hours to allow pickup and after 4 hours was assigned to a reserve. The cut-off for trip assignment was 12 hours prior – inside that, it had to be assigned immediately. So, the 4 hours pick up window would be shortened accordingly if the trip came open inside of 16 hours (i.e. a trip that came open14 hours from departure would only be open for pick-up for 2 hours).

If we were to attempt to do this with minimal changes to our current system, we could still stick with the 0900 LBT cutoff the day prior for line holder trades/drops, etc. After 0900, the trip would be available for pick up for some period of time (maybe until 1300L as a suggestion). After that time, it would need to be assigned according to the normal reserve system if it hadn’t been picked up. This would be a huge improvement!! I’ll be willing to bet that the only trip assignments schedulers would have to deal with on a daily basis would be real short notice sick calls, disputed pairings (hopefully) and substitution issues due to trip conflicts. We would end up doing their job for them. Those of us who wanted to fly would fly and those local pilots who wanted to stay home would stay home. Also, pilots needing landings for currency would avoid the problem I’ve seen where they get an RFO trip off first fly.

This suggestion will probably meet heavy resistance from the “we’ve never done it that way” crowd but I’ve seen it in action and it’s great. With all the commuters we have, I doubt schedulers would spend much of their day worrying about assigning open trips. We really need to improve our reserve system and this would be a big step. I know these suggestions are a big change but I seriously doubt there would be any significant cost. This has the potential to cut costs and scheduler workload. I wouldn’t think we would have to burn much if any “negotiating capital” in order to implement these changes. Just because it’s a good deal for us shouldn’t mean we have to pay through the nose for it – especially if it ends up helping the company too.

With many pilots looking at spending a lot longer on reserve than they planned due to age 65, I think some effort in this area would really go a long way to improving junior quality of life. I’d be willing to work towards making some of these improvements a reality if you need some manpower and you think it’s worth pursuing.

Thanks for your time.
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Old 03-05-2008, 09:22 PM   #2  
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It is amazing how a company that prides itself as an information technology front runner, has a server that can't handle a few thousand hits one day out of a month.
I like your other suggestions too.
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Old 03-05-2008, 09:26 PM   #3  
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Excellent points and ideas well-worth considering. The first-fly parameters now are a joke and in no way help a person effectively get a trip that shows up in open time.

It wouldn't cost anything to make a few other improvements as well. Why not allow a pilot to "pick up" another pilots R-days? Also, currently one must trade an entire block of R-days if there is an R-day swap for another pilots' trip. That's silly. The number of R-days in the swap should be at the discretion of the pilots trading the days. As long as the swaps don't create an illegal rest situation, why should the company care which employee number is in that R slot?

Also, the SIG should be able to have a little more input in the construction of the reserve lines. I'm told they get what they get and that's it. It would be nice to have some of those reserve lines be a little more commutable, or at least modifiable by those who would presumably have our best interests in mind.

And another thing....When we put in an R-day move request that is CLEARLY being unreasonably denied, the schedulers should be able to intervene with common sense and override the computer. Their claim now is that they cannot, regardless of the situation. I don't buy it.

Our reserve system could stand a LOT of improvements at a very low cost to anyone in terms of productivity or otherwise. All it takes is someone at the table making it a priority. I won't hold my breath, based on the "status quo" email I received this morning from FE. Hope I'm wrong.
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Old 03-05-2008, 10:41 PM   #4  
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Some good ideas.

Additional ones:
  • REMOVE the Company's ability to assign trips to Reserve pilots OUT OF LEVELLING ORDER using the TAFB> 50 hrs and the "ohh sorry, it just "fits" your schedule better". That is complete horse [email protected]#%.
  • REMOVE the Company's ability to move an R day from one block to another. Also a load of horse something.
  • 3 Hour short call-out in MEM. LAX, ANC, HKG, CDG have them. Is it really possible for another domicile to have something better than MEM??!! Ohh wait, maybe smarter to change the other domicle's callout to 1.5 hours in the next contract. That's probably more likely.

Last edited by skypine27; 03-05-2008 at 10:51 PM.
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Old 03-05-2008, 10:49 PM   #5  
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Originally Posted by skypine27 View Post
Some good ideas.

Additional ones:

REMOVE the Company's ability to assign trips to Reserve pilots OUT OF LEVELLING ORDER using the TAFB> 50 hrs and the "ohh sorry, it just "fits" your schedule better". That is complete horse s h i t.

REMOVE the Company's ability to move an R day from one block to another. Also a load of horse something.

3 Hour short call-out in MEM. LAX, ANC, HKG, CDG have them. Is it really possible for another domicile to have something better than MEM??!! Ohh wait, better change the other domicles callout to 1.5 hours in the next contract. That's probably more likely.
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Old 03-06-2008, 02:05 AM   #6  
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Joined APC: Sep 2006
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Posts: 313

Talk to the UPS guys, they can see everyone on the all of the reserve lists.
They can also preference trips out of open time that are assigned in seniority order for the folks that ask to fly them.
The 75 hr guarantee is also nice.
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Old 03-06-2008, 05:11 PM   #7  
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Reserve guys never fly, that's enough of a good deal in my book. There a far too many critical issues to waste a silver bullet on that. They have proved that we only have a couple and the company shoots back with gold ones. Once everything else is fixed, those suggestions make good sense. In my opinion we took a step back with our "Industry Leading Contract" as FE called it. Lets start by unscrewing what was done. My quality of life definitely isn't as good as it was last year.
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Old 03-06-2008, 05:23 PM   #8  
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Posts: 43

Reserves never fly? That's beginning to change. Check out this poor guy's schedule from last month. All trips off reserve with no make-ups. I'm getting called more often as well.

If the link doesn't work check 264314 Feb for 727 Cpt.
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Old 03-06-2008, 05:46 PM   #9  
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Joined APC: Aug 2005
Position: Airbus F/O
Posts: 297

Why are we going to worry about Reserve scheds, Pay increases, etc. when we REALLY only need to worry about one thing - 777 rates. It looks as though we may be fighting to have those as the A380 rates.

It's been brought to our attention that representatives of flight management have recently commented on the replacement of the A-380 with the B-777.

Some of these comments have suggested that the provisions in our current contract that address ultra-long range operations and the implementation of the B-777 into our fleet are not valid. The MEC couldn't disagree more strongly.
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Old 03-06-2008, 05:49 PM   #10  
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Originally Posted by purpledog View Post
Reserve guys never fly, that's enough of a good deal in my book. .
I'm betting your book isn't a bestseller.

Originally Posted by purpledog View Post
There a far too many critical issues to waste a silver bullet on that. .
The point is none of these reserve issues should require any sort of "silver bullet" to improve. Items changed that cost nothing in productivity or dollars shouldn't take tough negotiating, merely an agreement to scrutinize the policy in place. If it doesn't cost anything, it should be an easy fix. It merely needs to be addressed.

Originally Posted by purpledog View Post
My quality of life definitely isn't as good as it was last year.
Let me get this straight...improving your quality if life is important, but improving a person's QOL who chooses to bid reserve isn't? Listen to yourself!
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