|AMFA Locals and Members
National President’s Monthly Update for November 2021
December 7, 2021
We hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving with their friends and family, and we want to wish you a safe Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. As 2021 wraps up we look back on a year where we have endured tremendous instability in our industry and tackled an enormous amount of turbulence in our workplace while still performing our jobs safely and professionally. We want to express sincere appreciation for your engagement, dedication, and support throughout this last year. Aircraft mechanics and maintenance professionals have shown up and worked tirelessly to sustain effective maintenance operations and produce safe and reliable aircraft for our flight crews and the flying public.
AMFA National and Local leaders continue to have multiple meetings each week regarding the potential vaccination mandate. We have been in constant contact with AMFA legal regarding updates on pending lawsuits as federal litigation continues across the country. On 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 is unlawful and further seeking injunctive relief enjoining the implementation of that program. The plaintiffs obtained preliminary injunction enjoining the IFR vaccination mandate in the ten states that brought the litigation.
Several of the arguments adopted by Judge Schelp parallel the arguments in the actions brought against the federal contractor vaccination mandate, including: (1) the lack of a clear congressional mandate support the use of the federal government's contracting authority to “exercise powers of vast economic and political significance,” (2) the unauthorized diminution of the states’ traditional power to regulate health issues, (3) the bypassing of the standard notice and comment requirements prior to the promulgation of regulations, and (4) the arbitrary and capricious nature of the IFR, the rationales of which were often contradicted by the agency itself.
Just recently, on November 30, 2021, Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove of United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky granted a preliminary injunction enjoining the federal contractor mandate in three states based on arguments very similar to those made in the pending Texas litigation. There has been a federal ruling on the federal contractor vaccination mandate; however, the decision enjoins the mandate in only three states: Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee. Judge Tatenhove found that the plaintiffs were likely to prevail in their argument that the Biden Administration exceeded its statutory procurement authority by seeking to implement broad public health policy under the guise of promoting an "economical and efficient system of procurement and supply." Tatenhove found that the federal contractor mandate exceeded past uses of the federal governments contracting authority and that if he were to uphold its legality "then the statute could be used to enact virtually any measure at the president's whim under the guise of economy and efficiency."
Judge Tatenhove found that the plaintiffs could likely establish that the Biden Administration limitations on federal executive power imposed by the constitutional nondelegation doctrine and the Tenth Amendment. With respect to the former, the judge cited the Fifth Circuit's decision in BST Holdings and found that the Biden Administration "cannot point to a single instance when the [procurement] statute has been used to promulgate such a wide and sweeping public health regulation as mandatory vaccination for all federal contractors and subcontractors.”
With respect to the Tenth Amendment argument, the judge again cited the Fifth Circuit's BST Holdings decision as "persuasive" with respect to the "serious concern" that the mandate "stepped into an area traditionally reserved to the States, and this provides an additional reason to temporarily enjoin the vaccine mandate.” Interestingly enough, the judge rejected plaintiffs' arguments that the public notice and comment provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act had been violated. This wave of decisions has grown to a level that appears to be irresistible. It would be reasonable to expect that the federal contractor mandate will be enjoined in Texas in the near future. We will continue to keep you updated as the situation evolves.
AMFA wants to give a special thanks to the 45 participants from Alaska Airlines, Horizon Air, and Southwest Airlines two-day AMFA Shop Representative event on November 16-17, 2021. The event was hosted by AMFA National and directed by Region I Director Earl Clark and Region II Director Will Abbott. Classroom attendees from each local were sponsored by Alaska Airlines Airline Representatives (ALRs) Jarod Mills (Local 14) and Jeff Heard (Local 32); Horizon Air ALR Bobby Shipman (Local 14); and Southwest Airlines ALRs Frank Logalbo (Local 4), Craig Hamlet (Local 11), Wayne Lampley (Local 18), and Duane Mendez (Local 32 Interim). The AMFA National NEC was also in attendance.
The first day of training was a deep dive discussion followed by hands-on exercises with Professor Don Taylor from the University of Wisconsin who interacted and instructed grievance origination and processing, investigations, contract interpretation, Seven Tests of Just Cause, past practice scenarios, grievance procedures, organizing, and our union solidarity. The day wrapped-up with a Q&A session with the Airline Representatives.
On day two of training AMFA Legal, Nick Granath and Lucas Middlebrook, led a very informative class regarding the current legal landscape of vaccine mandates, state and federal lawsuits, drug and alcohol testing, legal rights of a shop representatives, Weingarten Rights, how to act like a union officer in AMFA, how to represent members in employer investigations, how to avoid costly mistakes, and how to prepare for arbitration. The day was finished off with a Q&A session with AMFA Legal, ALRs, and Region Directors.
Huge thanks again to all who attended, interacted, and accepted their new shop representative position. We would like to express how critical a shop representative is to our Association and how extremely important your role is in protecting the members from management decisions, including contract violations, which in many scenarios can save the job of AMFA Members. The Members of AMFA rely on your crucial and professional role as a AMFA Shop Representative. Whilst the Members benefit the most on your representational abilities, the company will also respect your preparedness in all matters related to the Union.
AMFA recently established the first and only political action committee (PAC) representing aircraft mechanic and related issues: AMFA PAC. Nearly every decision affecting the airline industry and your craft is made by someone elected or appointed in government. AMFA PAC opens doors, affording our profession with more access, influence, and potential legislative victories. All AMFA members, including Associate Members, are eligible to join AMFA PAC. We have started an Associate Member outreach initiative to persons involved in the aviation industry who are not covered under an AMFA-represented CBA. Having a PAC allows for our profession to have a larger voice speaking for our craft related issues.
Our government affairs team is also 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. Please visit the Government Affairs Updates page of the AMFA National Website for further details.
AMFA–Alaska Airlines (AS) ALRs continue working with the Company and Arbitrator on the Roster Apps arbitration case. AS ALRs have had a several meetings with the Company regarding with COVID vaccination mandate reset deadline of January 4, 2022, and they are reviewing the numbers associated with compliance of vaccination and requests for medical and religion accommodations. AS continues to hire and fill positions in Anchorage, Seattle, and Portland; however, they continue to struggle with the impending shortage of experienced and qualified aircraft technicians to achieve adequate staffing levels.
Horizon Air (QX) continues to hire new AMTs yet are losing more than they are hiring. AMFA and the Company met in Seattle November 22 & 23, 2021, to discuss ten Letters of Agreement (LOAs) that were previously agreed to by the Teamsters that are not currently in the contract book. The committees designated the following articles to be open for discussion in our next session: 12, Holidays; 21, Health, Safety and Standards; 18, Union Security and Representation; 17, Union Business; 6, Workweek and Hours of Work; 20, Grievance Procedure and System board of Adjustment; and 8, Field Trips. Our next meetings are scheduled for December 9-10, 15-17, and 20-23 in Seattle. Please visit the Horizon Air Updates page for further details.
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 has publicly stated they are 93% compliant collectively with the Biden executive order. SWA continues to hire and fill positions throughout the system to overcome our challenges to achieve inadequate staffing levels with the impending aircraft technician shortage.
As we forge into the New Year, we will continue our responsibilities and mission to further raise the standards of aircraft maintenance and to increase the recognition and the standards of living for our aircraft mechanics and related professionals. We will be the ambassadors in promoting your craft and profession while increasing the recognition you deserve. I ask you to please continue to be 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 your local website and/or 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.