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AMFA-QX Negotiating Committee Pre-Negotiations Update
Mar 23, 2021

March 22, 2021

AMFA Local 14 completed the collection of contract proposals submitted by Horizon Air (QX) members on March 16, 2021. The Local Executive Council (LEC) will soon be assigning the contract proposal evaluation committee to review the proposals, combine like proposals, and assign reference numbers. When completed the committee will return them back to the LEC, which will then call a special meeting to have them endorsed by the AMFA-QX membership at the meeting. AMFA National will then conduct a prioritization survey of the AMFA-QX members to determine your opinion of the level of importance for each proposal. Once the prioritization is complete, the results will be given to the Negotiation Committee.

The Negotiating Committee will then write up the opening proposals to be submitted to the Company Negotiating Committee on the first day of face-to-face negotiations. The AMFA Negotiating Committee will work with the Company Committee to schedule our opening meeting in the fall to amend our Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). For those of you involved in your first negotiations or for those who need a refresher, please refer to the following synopsis.

The process of negotiations with management is governed by the Railway Labor Act (RLA). The RLA, passed in 1926, was originally legislated to allow railroad union workers to resolve disputes with management while minimizing the potential for interstate commerce disruptions. The airline industry was folded into the RLA under Title II in 1936. Historically, negotiations procedures fell under section 6 of the RLA but currently several sections of the RLA apply to contract negotiations in the airline industry. In fact, “section 6” is not even located in section 6 of the RLA today (see 45 USC Chapter 8 Sections 151 – 188) but the name is still commonly used.

The timeline for each step varies and at any point during these steps (direct negotiations, mediation or arbitration) a Tentative Agreement (TA) may be reached. When a TA is reached, ballots are sent to each member in good standing for ratification. You can ensure eligibility to vote as a member in good standing by keeping your dues current. If approved by a majority vote, the agreement goes into effect. If the membership rejects the TA, then the process basically repeats itself with minor differences.


Either the union or management must notify the other of their intent to amend the contract within 180 days prior to the date it becomes amendable. They must agree to a meeting date within 10 days of the notification and must meet within 30 days of the original notification, unless both parties mutually agree to another date. The original amendable date of the contract was December 15, 2020. AMFA did not serve notice to amend last year due to the pandemic and will serve QX our Intent to Change notice this year after June 17, 2021, and we are planning to schedule the exchange of openers in the fall of 2021.


Per the AMFA Constitution, your Negotiating Committee is comprised of:

Airline Rep: Bobby Shipman (Local 14)
Chair: Earl Clark, Region I Director
Legal Council: Lucas Middlebrook

The Committee will be using the results of the Contract Prioritization Survey to help guide their objectives and priorities while drafting the openers. Future surveys may be conducted as the negotiation process progresses.

Once the Negotiating Committee exchanges an initial contract proposal with QX management, we will begin direct bargaining on individual sections of the CBA. It is expected that the parties will negotiate on an average of four days per month, but this is always subject to change. The sessions will typically increase in frequency when the parties get close to achieving a TA. Currently, most of the negotiation’s sessions are expected to take place in Portland, Oregon.

Once the Committee and management reach an agreement on a section, the section is “tabled” as a Tentative Agreement. Progress during this step, or lack thereof, determines whether it will be necessary to proceed with the other steps of the RLA.


Under the RLA contracts never expire, they simply continue as the “status quo” until amended. Management may not change the contract and AMFA may not engage in any work actions until all the steps outlined in the RLA have been completed and both parties are released.


If Collective Bargaining is unsuccessful and the negotiation process is deadlocked, either AMFA or management may choose to request the services of the National Mediation Board (NMB). Even if neither party solicits mediation, the NMB still may intercede and force both parties into mediation. This often happens when the talks are deadlocked or broken off.


If the NMB intercedes, both parties must enter the mediation process and a mediator is assigned by the NMB. The mediator decides if negotiations are deadlocked and if either or both parties can proceed with other legal steps.


Binding arbitration may be proposed by the NMB if mediation fails. Binding arbitration requires both the union and management to agree to it. They must also agree upon a neutral arbitrator. The NMB will offer to submit the remaining issues to binding arbitration. The arbitrator makes a decision that is final and binding to both parties. Typically, the union will always object to binding arbitration.


If either AMFA or management refuse the NMB’s offer of binding arbitration, both parties must observe a 30-day “cooling off” period. If the President of the United States does not intervene in steps 8-11, then the whole process moves directly to Step 12 ‑ Self Help. It should be noted that due to the potential for Presidential involvement, it is beneficial to the union if the sitting President is supportive of the right of workers to engage in labor actions.


The NMB may at this time request the President of the United States to intervene due to the “possible substantial interference with interstate commerce.” The President, however, is not legally mandated to intervene.


The President may, at his discretion, establish an Emergency Fact Finding Board to investigate the dispute between the union and management and make recommendations.


If the board is appointed, they must make their recommendations within 30 days. The board may, however, ask either party for additional time to investigate. The President may also allow an additional 30-day extension for the board to complete its investigation.


After the Emergency Fact Finding Board makes its recommendations to the President, AMFA and Management must observe another 30-day cooling off period. Intensified mediation talks, or “super-mediation,” may continue in an effort to reach an agreement prior to the expiration of the 30 days.


At the end of the 30-day cooling off period, AMFA and Management are free of legal requirements to negotiate and the “status quo” of the contract has been rescinded. Management has the option of imposing its own work rules and wages. AMFA has the option of accepting those rules and wages or may elect to take work actions in the form of intermittent strikes, full walk out strike or other actions AMFA feels will help resolve the deadlock. Once a TA is agreed to by the Negotiation Committee, the TA is again passed on to the membership for ratification.

We hope this helps you to better understand how negotiations may progress at Horizon Air.

In Solidarity,

Your AMFA – ASA Negotiating Committee

In This Section

7853 E. Arapahoe Court, Suite 1100
Centennial, CO 80112

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