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Old 07-08-2008, 02:13 PM   #1  
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Default Letter from MEC Jumpseat Committee, July 8, 2008

July 8, 2008

To: United Airlines Pilots

From: UALMEC Jumpseat Committee

Re: Our response to the letter from the “UAX Pilots Association”—Denial of Express Jumpseats to UAL pilots

The UALMEC Jumpseat Committee would like to address the situation regarding the impending denial of jumpseats to United pilots by our United Express (UAX) partners. For those of you who commute on UAX flights, you already have or will soon be receiving the following letter from a UAX captain when you request a jumpseat.


Quote:
Important Letter to United Pilots


June 30, 2008

To United Airlines pilots:

On behalf of the Jumpseat Committees representing all of the carriers flying as United Express, welcome aboard. Unfortunately, this letter has been provided to you because you will likely be affected by a difficult decision, reluctantly arrived at by the United Express (UAX) pilots. Over the last couple of years, United Airlines (UAL) has made changes to the gate jumpseating and priority software programs. Several of these changes have adversely affected not only the UAX pilots, but also the UAL pilots, as well. There is widespread confusion and frustration amongst many of the pilots regarding how the gate computer sorts priorities for jumpseat requests. Based upon the UAX agreement tables, jumpseat requests on UAX flights are supposed to be processed like this:

1.On their own flights, UAX pilots are sorted first, in order of their seniority.
2.UAL pilots and “other” UAX pilots are sorted next, in order of their check-in.
3.Non UAL/UAX pilots (“offline pilots”) are then sorted, in order of their check-in.

HOWEVER, the current software being used by UAL does NOT sort jumpseat requests in this order. Instead, all jumpseat requests are sorted as if the flight were a mainline UAL flight. This means that UAX pilots are being bumped by UAL pilots on their own UAX flights. The computer software also sorts some UAX pilots as if they were offline pilots, even on their own flights. Despite nine (9) months of repeated appeals to UAL management, and despite the fact that a minor software change would solve this issue (simply change the computers to recognize the carriers’ flight number) UAX carriers have recently been told that UAL will not fix this blatant degradation of our jumpseat agreements because to do so would not generate revenue for UAL. This position is untenable.

We have now sent a detailed letter to UALPA’s MEC, addressing these very important issues, and we have provided UALPA with specific examples of where UAL has made non-revenue generating changes to the gate software. The UAX pilots have respectfully requested that the gate jumpseat software be fixed within thirty (30) days. Regrettably, if UAL does not fix the jumpseat software within thirty (30) days, UAX pilots will be left with no other choice but to deny all UAL pilots any requests for the jumpseat, regardless of aircraft tail-colors beginning 08/31/08.

On behalf of all UAX pilots, we sincerely hope that we will not be forced to deny any UAL pilot a ride, as we are mindful of the fact that many UAL pilots will be negatively impacted. To that end, we are simply asking that you immediately call or email your MEC to let them know how important your UAX commute is, and to help us all obtain a fair and just resolution. Thank you for your professionalism and active cooperation.

Signed, the pilots of:

Chautauqua Airlines
Colgan Airlines
Go Jets Airlines
Mesa Air Group
Shuttle America
SkyWest Airlines
This letter is endorsed by all of the UAX carriers with the exception of TransStates Airlines, an ALPA affiliated carrier. Mesa Air Group, an ALPA carrier has endorsed this letter.

To summarize the intent of this letter, the jumpseat is being used as a bargaining chip and a ransom in order to get their issues resolved. The policy of ALPA National is to not use the jumpseat as a bargaining tool or for political purposes. An ad hoc jumpseat group named Hitcharide, which monitors and addresses jumpseat issues for the US airline industry, has also adopted the ALPA policy. All of these UAX members and the UAL Jumpseat Committee are members of this group.

In a separate letter addressed to the MEC, the UAX members identify specific computer software issues that are affecting their ability to obtain proper jumpseat access on their airplanes in addition to being improperly charged for cabin jumpseats. Your Jumpseat Committee is in agreement that there are problems associated with these programs. These UAX members are under the assumption that the solutions to these problems are a mere simple fix and any money that would be required to fix the problems is supposed to be the responsibility of United. It has been conveyed to these members that there are no simple fixes to these problems regardless of any alleged funding issues.

I would like to take a few moments to brief you on the history of this group. The MEC Jumpseat Committee and UA flight ops have invested much time and effort to address the problems at UAX.

Starting in November, 2006, we had invited all of the UAX carrier’s jumpseat chairpersons to sit down with us and identify the problems. Through a series of face to face meetings and telephone conferences, we identified some problem areas regarding jumpseating on UAX: First, Apollo computer software (which runs all jumpseat programs for UA and UAX) is antiquated. The system cannot separate the UAX employees into their own separate groups and unfortunately considers them as offline pilots even when trying to get a jumpseat on their own company aircraft.

Second, inadequate UAX CSR training, along with a high turnover rate of agent staff. Third, lack of Captain’s authority.

Referencing the software system, it has been determined that in order to bring the system up to date so it can sort the employees properly would require major system upgrades, extra manpower assignments and increased funding. There also were requests to investigate the feasibility of some quick fixes to these issues. It was conveyed to the group that it would be investigated, but with no guarantees. It was also made clear to them that there would be obstacles, limitations and almost no financial support. At one point in one of the meetings members of the group were asked if they would petition their managements for money to defray the costs of software upgrades. Not one member offered to ask their management for some monetary assistance.

Two positive solutions were created from these meetings. One being the development of SOPs that would efficiently process and board a jumpseater. The other was created to address the issue of a UAX pilot not being able to get on his own company jumpseat. With input from the MEC Jumpseat Committee, a lesson plan for agents that manage UAX flights was created and gives guidance to the agent in the event of a priority conflict to direct all jumpseaters down to the Captain for conflict resolution. This is an interim fix, which addresses Captain’s authority and gets pilots on their jumpseats. I have been informed by the UAX manager of United that since the implementation of this lesson plan, the problems with UAX pilots “not getting on their own metal” have diminished. They have not been eliminated; but it is a positive step and will diminish over time. If you will recall, back in 2006 we took effective steps to reduce our own internal jumpseat problems. They were not cleared up immediately, but they diminished at a steady rate.

The UAX members make a statement to you in their letter and insist that one simple fix can be made by a simple software change that would recognize a UAX flight number and match it to the employees of that carrier. They also accuse United of not wanting to fix the problem because it would not generate revenue for them. The recognition of flight numbers was discussed as a POSSIBLE “quick fix.” It also was conveyed to them that we would investigate this possibility, but we would not make any guarantees. The accusation of United not wanting to fix the problem due to no revenue generation is totally unfounded. It is our opinion these UAX members believe that if United does not fix the problem, it will force these UAX pilots to be charged for a UAX first class seat, should it be the only one vacant. We do not recall this topic being presented for discussion.

Their letter, which amounts to nothing more than a blatant threat to our pilots, is being taken very seriously by the MEC, United Flight ops and United management. Flight ops and management are corresponding with their UAX counterparts and confronting them with their letters. It is our belief that the endorsers of this letter did not consult with their senior managements prior to distributing them.

So, what now?

The UALMEC Jumpseat Committee, United Flight ops and the UAX manager from United are going to convene for a telephone conference on Thursday, July 10, 2008. We will advise these UAX members ONE LAST TIME of the difficulties and limitations associated with resolving these issues. We will also put to rest their beliefs that there are quick solutions as well. At the end of this meeting your jumpseat committee will advise these members that they will have one week from July 10th to rescind their decision to deny jumpseats to United pilots. We will also demand they notify the MEC in writing. If at the end of that week they have not reversed their decision, we will IMMEDIATELY do all within our power to prevent them from obtaining jumpseats on United flights. We will request management to instruct our agents to not process them for a jumpseat or issue them an OMC card. Ultimately, the Captain has final authority on access to his or her jumpseat. Your MEC Officers have unanimously endorsed this course of action.

Until the period in time arrives to where we take our course of action, I am expecting the UAX members to honor their reciprocal agreements and not deny United pilots a jumpseat . However, if you encounter a situation in which you feel that you are being denied this for an illegitimate reason, we request that you file a JSAP report. You can access this report by going to the UALMEC Website: www.ualmec.org. After signing into the members section, click the Jumpseat Committee tab on the left hand side of the main page. When you get to our committee page, look for the JSAP report tab halfway down the page. If you are not able to access the JSAP report, please contact one of the members of the MEC Jumpseat Committee using the email addresses listed below.

The UALMEC Jumpseat Committee will correspond to you at the appropriate time, if not sooner.

Fraternally,

Bob Spadea
Chairman, United MEC Jumpseat Committee

Frank Palombi
Vice Chairman, United MEC Jumpseat Committee
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Old 07-08-2008, 03:28 PM   #2  
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This is what I'd call Managment's wet dream....... pilots fighting pilots, within the SAME UNION !!! Why bother fighting the pilot groups, they can fight each other, DIVIDE AND CONQUER ! come on.......
I understand that there are 2 sides of the story, and I'm defenetely not leaning to one side, although so far there's some sympathy for UAX guys...but that's not the point.
The point is that ALPA as a whole, not as one MEC against other MEC or "little" in house commities, should be stepping in. No more brothers fighting brothers. Before even has gone public, ALPA as a national union should have settled this. Off course is not easy, but keeping unity is the only way to have strength and should be a priority.
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Old 07-08-2008, 03:56 PM   #3  
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Such a typical response from United Mainline... "stupid little RJ pilots with their stupid little issues. We devoted one whole hour to listening to them, and they still weren't happy. How dare they! It is an honor to speak with us. In response, we will use big words and long sentences to convey the superior length of our johnsons. Also, we are going to deny YOU before you deny US. So there!"

UAX pilots have a legitimate issue, and these are the deaf ears it falls upon. United claims that to resolve these issues will take longer than the one month ultimatum given. Well, these issues were brought to their attention nearly two years ago. UAX pilots are being forced to pay to non-rev on their own aircraft while a mainline jumpseater is riding for free up front. That is disgusting. United then makes the classy move of saying it is the gate agents fault... well YOU hired them! How hard is it for United to print off a laminated memo that says "UAX goes first on own metal" and post it on every UAX gate desk. That is a cheap fix, and it is spelled out nicely for everyone. It would also be there for a UAX pilot to easily reference should a problem arise.

The UAX letter to UAL pilots is a bit extreme, but it was meant to be an attention getter and an educational tool. Instead of listening, the UAL MEC decides to tell their pilots to disregard the letter, and to be the bigger jerk.
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Old 07-08-2008, 04:19 PM   #4  
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I'm not going to deny anyone the jumpseat. I WILL be making sure the priority in my SOP is being followed. It's hard enough getting to work now. Nearly every airline is shrinking, there will be less open seats in the back and fewer flights to jumpseat on.
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Old 07-08-2008, 04:20 PM   #5  
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I'm airways not united so it's not my fight but I think it's ridiculous to put this all on the captains. Maybe at mainline they have time to sort it out but express does a lot of quick turns, in amongst eating, getting the stuff ready to go, bathroom etc, the captain is supposed to go check the counter every flight to make sure the gate agents are sorting pilots right? I also think United MEC's response is patronizing. They say in their letter it's been two years..even if there were no quick fixes available I'd say 2 years is the long fix and it still isn't fixed. Obviously a jumpseat war sucks for all involved and I'm glad not to be a United or express commuter right about now but it's totally gonna screw mainline more than express and if they do it faster it's just going to make express do it faster too... way to go!

Last edited by de727ups; 07-08-2008 at 04:40 PM. Reason: edited out deleted post
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Old 07-08-2008, 04:20 PM   #6  
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I like how they point out that the jumpseat is a not a "bargaining tool" or for "political purposes" but when faced with a confrontation over this issue they threaten loss of UAL jumpseats. Anybody find any irony in this?
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Old 07-08-2008, 04:24 PM   #7  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xjcaptain View Post
I like how they point out that the jumpseat is a not a "bargaining tool" or for "political purposes" but when faced with a confrontation over this issue they threaten loss of UAL jumpseats. Anybody find any irony in this?
Agreed if it's not a bargaining tool they should be saying " we'll continue offering our jumpseat to UAX" you know since it's not a bargaining tool. And we can all be grown ups..no wait maybe not.
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Old 07-08-2008, 04:30 PM   #8  
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I'm curious if the members of the UAX jumpseat commities are commuters or not
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Old 07-08-2008, 04:43 PM   #9  
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This was the last course of action. We have tried all avenues, with this exception.

I will not deny and UAL guy a jumpseat, but as soon as they deny me or any other Mesa pilot, I will reciprocate. I won't start the fight, but I'll jump in after its begun without a thought.

Don't worry guys, ALPA will sort this out...

Last edited by de727ups; 07-08-2008 at 05:06 PM. Reason: edited out deleted quote
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Old 07-08-2008, 04:43 PM   #10  
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Cripple Fight!
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