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At this time, the proposed acquisition of Virgin America by Alaska Airlines has not been approved by federal regulatory agencies or Virgin America shareholders. If and when it is approved, the actual process of reaching single carrier status and negotiating a joint collective bargaining agreement (covering the combined VX/ Alaska flight attendants) can happen very quickly or can take years. In the meantime, your TWU-VX Negotiating Committee is committed to negotiating a fair agreement that will provide much needed compensation and work rule improvements as well as a grievance process and merger protections for our VX ITMs until and if this merger process is completed.
Under applicable court decisions, once a single carrier determination has been issued by the NMB for a given class or craft of employees, and the NMB has then certified a bargaining representative for that class or craft on the single carrier, the separate collective bargaining agreements continue to apply until the certified collective bargaining representative has negotiated new contracts – or, as is generally the case, a single new contract, namely, a joint collective bargaining agreement covering all the employees in the combined craft or class. It is of course difficult to determine when that will be.
The Alaska Airlines AFA MEC appointed two Members to serve as their Merger Committee shortly after the proposed acquisition to deal with the seniority integration process. But the proposed acquisition has not received regulatory or shareholder approval; in the meantime, your TWU-VX representatives are focused on completing our own collective bargaining agreement; that is our priority. At the appropriate time, we will appoint members of a Merger Committee for representing the VX ITMs in connection with the seniority integration process.
The McCaskill-Bond Amendment – which governs airline seniority list integrations for merger transaction such as the one involving VX/Alaska – requires employee seniority lists to be merged in accordance with the internal policies of a union that represent the same craft or class at both carriers. That is the situation for the VX and Alaska pilots who are both represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA); as a result, ALPA Merger Policy provides the framework for the pilot seniority list integration. That’s not the situation for the flight attendants as the Alaska Flight Attendants are represented by the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) and the Virgin America ITMs are represented by TWU. For that situation (where the counterpart employee groups are represented by different unions), McCaskill-Bond sets forth a process of negotiations and arbitration (if no negotiated agreement is reached) for reaching a fair and equitable merged seniority list. As noted, your TWU-VX Negotiating Committee is currently putting every effort into completing our own collective bargaining agreement as our top priority; at the appropriate time, though, we will appoint members of a Merger Committee for representing the VX ITMs in connection with the seniority integration process.
This federal law was passed after the American Airlines acquisition of TWA and will apply to the acquisition of Virgin America by Alaska Airlines.
Yes, until that contract is amended or superseded, and that could be by a subsequent joint collective bargaining agreement, covering the combined VX/ Alaska flight attendants.
Due to the fact there are significantly more Alaska Airlines Flight Attendants than Virgin America ITMs, it is unlikely there will be a representation vote where TWU is on the ballot.
The TWU is not a party in the class action lawsuit filed against Virgin America and its filing or outcome have not been discussed or considered in our negotiations.