National President’s Monthly Update: October 2021
I wish to express my heartfelt compassion for everyone who has been touched by the uncertainty in our industry during these unprecedented times. As we continue to navigate the COVID vaccine mandate at all three AMFA-represented carriers our primary focus remains to protect your collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) as well as your job and ability to earn.
Among countless other frontline and essential personnel — including healthcare workers, first responders, police, fire fighters, and more — aircraft mechanics and other maintenance professionals have shown up and worked tirelessly over the past year to sustain effective maintenance operations and to produce a safe and reliable aircraft for our flight crews and the flying public. To that end, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CSIA), a component to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), designates aviation workers as essential to maintaining our nation’s critical infrastructure and recommends that essential workers are given priority access to personal protective equipment, testing, and vaccines to ensure the critical social and economic needs of our country are met.
In both, the rank and file and union leadership, there are strong opinions on forced mandatory vaccination. AMFA has been in support of voluntary vaccinations and in January 2021 requested multiple governors to help advocate for frontline aviation workers, including AMFA Members, to be granted access to voluntary vaccinations at the earliest point possible in their respective state/region.
AMFA National and Local leaders have multiple meetings each week regarding the matter of potential mandatory vaccination requirements. AMFA National recognizes the decision to get vaccinated is an individual choice, not one that belongs to anyone else, especially any employer. AMFA National supports the defense under existing contract rights of any represented employee’s individual, reasonable choice in response to any employer-mandated vaccine program to protect those who seek an exemption or delay from vaccination based on a reasonable accommodation of their medical, physical, or any other recognized legal grounds such as religion — from adverse action by management.
In short, AMFA opposes forced mandatory vaccines, AMFA demands all our carriers to bargain over the effects of complying with government orders imposing vaccines, and AMFA supports individual choice of vaccination and legitimate exemption seekers. Please review the recent Memo: COVID Vaccination Mandate, dated October 21, 2021, sent to the AMFA Membership from National and Local Leadership.
We have been in constant contact with AMFA legal regarding updates on pending lawsuits as federal litigation continues across the country. On Friday, October 29, 2021, ten states filed a joint action against President Joseph Biden and three federal agencies in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, seeking a declaratory judgment that the Biden Administration’s federal contractor vaccination mandate is unlawful and further seeking injunctive relief enjoining the implementation of that program.
The complaint filed by the ten states asserts twelve (12) separate counts. Several of them substantially overlap and allege, among other things, violations of the Procurement Act (exceeding contract authority), the Administrative Procedure Act (including failure to publish program to elicit public comment and interfering with Congress’ legislative authority), the Tenth Amendment (violating states’ reserved powers and sovereign rights). Most of the counts would, if successful, prevent the implementation of the program as a whole. One in particular — the anti-commandeering count — would merely prohibit the federal government from compelling state officials to implement the federal program. The states’ objections arise both from their standing as federal contractors and as sovereign states.
As noted last month, AMFA recently established the first and only political action committee (PAC) representing aircraft mechanic and related issues: AMFA PAC. We’ve had a positive response from the membership so far, but we ask you to join your fellow members in support. For those of you who did not attend last month’s webinar, it was recorded and is posted on the Government Affairs, AMFA PAC page of the AMFA National Website. Our government affairs team is observing the COVID vaccination federal mandate and collaborating with our carriers to have influence in achieving OSHA standards/guideline that yield reasonable accommodations for our membership.
AMFA–Alaska Airlines (AS) Airline Representatives (ALRs) continue working with the Company and Arbitrator on the Roster Apps arbitration case. AS ALRs have had a couple meetings with the Company regarding with COVID vaccination mandate, and they are reviewing the numbers associated with compliance of vaccination and requests for medical and religion accommodations. Alaska continues to hire and fill positions in Anchorage, Seattle, and Portland.
Horizon Air (QX) continues to hire new AMTs yet are losing more AMTs than they are hiring. AMFA and the Company met in Seattle October 11, 2021, to start the negotiations process. It was decided that we would start the next meeting working through all of the letters of agreement and then on to Article 10: Shift Realignment; Article 21: Health, Safety, and Standards; Article 17: Union Business; Article 18: Union Security and Representation; and Article 23: Employee Benefits, which is only to discuss employee travel. Our next meeting is scheduled for November 22 & 23, 2021, in Seattle.
AMFA-Southwest Airlines (SWA) ALRs continue working with the Company in response to the COVID vaccination mandate and medical and religious accommodations, and they are reviewing the numbers associated with compliance of vaccination and accommodation requests. SWA continues to hire and fill positions throughout the system.
As always, I ask you to please be safe while being vigilant and to stay engaged with your union and officers. In doing so, please monitor your respective carrier page of the AMFA National website for further airline specific details: Alaska Airlines Updates, Horizon Air Updates, Southwest Airlines Updates. For further information regarding AMFA and the airline industry, please visit the AMFA National Website at www.amfanational.org. Our most determined efforts will only succeed with your support and participation — please stay engaged and informed.