|AMFA Locals and Members
National President’s Monthly Update for January & February 2024
March 1, 2024
The start of a new year is always exciting to execute our goals while new experiences and relationships await. We are going on the record once again to share that AMFA’s leadership will commit to AMFA’s objective to raise the standards and increase the recognition of our craft/trade in the aviation industry. As we continue to be the voice for skilled aircraft maintenance workgroups, the intent is to increase the wages by leapfrogging our represented carriers to be within cents, not dollars, of each other as the industry responds to the effects of supply and demand of our professional skillsets. We are single-handedly raising the top-of-pay scale all-in rate as we continue to negotiate contracts in both the United States and Canada. AMFA’s theory is that the rising tide will raise all ships, so you will see other labor unions being forced to keep up with AMFA’s top-of-scale wages.
AMFA will continue to be the voice of AMT/AME and related employees by taking action to protect their work and ability to earn, increase wages, and improve benefits. AMFA is committed to defending the rights of aircraft maintenance professionals in North America, and AMFA knows how to combat the coercive strategies of companies that compromise employees’ quality of life and jeopardize the safety of air travel. AMFA respects the work that you perform day-to-day to uphold the highest industry standards, and it is our goal to gain recognition from your employer, regulators, and the flying public for the critical contribution of our profession to aviation safety.
Our legislative initiatives and achievements have defined AMFA as a leader in this new generation of craft/trade unionism across North America. Our legislative efforts have taken the lead on various aviation fronts, including advocacy for H.R. 3935, House FAA Reauthorization Bill, and S.1939 - Senate FAA Reauthorization Act of 2023. The challenge we continue to face is identifying and aligning with those who are working most effectively to protect American jobs and wages. Labor organizations are working together to educate the flying public about the risks they are exposed to when critical aircraft maintenance is performed by non-FAA licensed aviation technicians. When the flying public better understands the issue, perhaps the airlines will see the value in quality maintenance. AMFA has worked continuously for years to combat foreign outsourcing by applying the same standards to vendors beyond our borders. We are committed to this mission and will do all we can to alert people to the safety risks when airlines outsource maintenance. Hopefully, then, the flying public will champion this cause along with us, and we can recapture more of the work that has been lost.
On January 22, 2024, WestJet, an Alberta Partnership, filed a Notice of Dispute with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services. The WestJet negotiators’ tone mellowed substantially from prior sessions, which we attribute to the presence of the federal conciliator and to the fact that their unilateral petition to the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) places the parties on a schedule that would permit a strike or lockout as early as April 17, 2024. Please read the Memorandum dated Jan 23, 2024. The committees met on January 30- February 1 in Vancouver and February 6-8 in Calgary. We had many observers in attendance in these sessions who wanted to engage in this bargaining process to increase the industry standards as a stakeholder for all AMEs across Canada. Their involvement with our AMFA-WJA Negotiating Committee was cherished and memorable. Thanks to all the observers who asked questions and were engaged in this unique, open, and transparent negotiation process.
AMFA acknowledges the WestJet AME's plight to achieve the distinction and respect of their trade and provides a platform to help improve their situation. They seek focused bargaining and consistent application of fair work rules to restore the deteriorated culture of their workplace. The next negotiation sessions are scheduled for March 5-7 in Toronto and March 19-21 in Calgary. We encourage you to participate in the AMFA caucuses. For more information, please visit the WestJet page of the AMFA National website.
At AMFA-L3 Harris MAS (L3), we continue exploratory discussions on the implementation of a station in Ottawa, ON to maintain two new A330 aircraft to the L3 fleet, while the Trenton, ON membership will continue to maintain the A310 fleet. AMFA met L3 Harris Management in Toronto in October 2023 to discuss this situation, and a grievance was filed in December to find a resolution; both parties continue to discuss options for the two stations under AMFA representation. We will keep you updated as we move forward in this process. For further updates and information, please visit the L3 Harris MAS page of the AMFA National website.
During the January 9-11, 2024, bargaining session in Seattle, AMFA and Alaska Airlines (AS) reached a tentative agreement (TA) on a five-year CBA, including industry-leading wages for top-of-scale technicians and a 401(k) “me-too” provision. The complete text of the TA was sent to the affected membership via company email for review and consideration. The ratification referendum will end at 10:00 am et on March 14, 2024. We thank the observers for their time and engagement in this collective bargaining process. Please review the AMFA negotiation updates on the Alaska Airlines page of the AMFA National Website.
Sun Country Airlines (SCA) management may want planes in the air, but remember your A&P license and public safety are the top priority, including strict compliance with regulatory and manual procedures. We must realize our grave responsibility as FAA-certified Aircraft Maintenance Technicians (AMTs) to exercise our judgment on the airworthiness of aircraft and equipment. We, therefore, pledge unyielding adherence to these precepts for the advancement of public safety of aviation and the dignity of our craft. In recent conversations, several SCA maintenance employees expressed concern relating to aircraft maintenance directives that appear to be inconsistent with the terms of the General Maintenance Manual (GMM) and FAA Guidelines. There has been an uptick in weekly SCA Safety Reporting System reports of events that are non-compliant in the SCA Aircraft Maintenance Tech-ops Operations. That being said, with few exceptions, an AMT must follow the terms of the GMM and all other applicable maintenance manuals. Federal law provides:
Each person performing maintenance on an aircraft, engine, propeller, or appliance shall use the methods, techniques, and practices prescribed in the current manufacturer’s maintenance manual…
14 CFR § 43.13(a). The FARs also provide that an airline is responsible for the “performance of the maintenance or preventive maintenance … in accordance with its manual and the regulations of this chapter.” 14 CFR § 121.363(a)(2).
Adherence to proper maintenance practices is not only an obligation, it is a right under the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR 21). AIR 21 makes it unlawful for an air carrier to retaliate against an AMT who reports non-compliance with federal aviation standards or refuses to deviate from maintenance manual procedures. A complaint with the Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA) must be filed within 90 days of any adverse action taken by the carrier. An actionable “adverse action” could be anything from termination to a warning letter that chills you from persisting in your compliance efforts.
National Mediation Board (NMB) Mediator Jack Stephan has scheduled a mediated negotiation session for April 30 - May 2, 2024. If you recall, after a year of slow and unproductive negotiations, AMFA requested that the NMB oversee the bargaining process. For a comprehensive review of the technical aspects of the mediation process, please visit the National Mediation Board’s website. If you have questions, do not hesitate to contact any member of your AMFA Negotiating Committee. Please visit the Sun Country Airlines page of the AMFA National website for updates.
The Spirit Airlines (NKS) Labor Relations Department, especially their lead negotiator, can be characterized as nothing more than bush-league and their incompetency continues to stall contract negotiations. The lead NKS negotiator’s deliberate lack of professionalism and disrespect for the Spirit AMT workgroup are appalling and are at a new inexcusable level. He would not accept any proposed dates provided by NMB Mediator Jack Stephan before the next scheduled dates of May 7-9. The Company's negotiators do not seem committed to the process of working toward a contract. We feel this is another deliberate stall tactic tied to the Justice Department ruling regarding the potential JetBlue merger.
A federal court blocked a proposed merger between JetBlue and Spirit Airlines, arguing the merger would hurt competition in the airline industry. On the contrary, attorneys for the two airlines argued the merger would make them a viable competitor to the “big four,” who they note were allowed to expand in recent decades. The DOJ has until April 11 to file a response to JetBlue and Spirit’s brief, and the federal appeals court is scheduled to hear arguments in June. The merger deal has a deadline of July 24. For further updates and information, please visit the Spirit Airlines page of the AMFA National website.
On January 31, the AMFA and Southwest Airlines (SWA) published agreements regarding the CESE Application for AMTs and AATs. Both agreements will become effective on March 1, 2024. The Arizona Industrial Commission’s Labor Department has investigated complaints from AMFA-SWA members and has sided with AMFA’s lawsuit and the SWA employees. The department said SWA is subject to the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act, a law requiring employers to provide paid sick leave and makes it illegal to retaliate against them for using that accrued leave outlined in the CBA. Southwest, however, contends that the bargaining agreement between Southwest and AMFA is subject to federal labor laws, which the airline contends preempts many state and local laws. SWA is appealing the fines of more than $300k after Arizona workers filed complaints stating SWA retaliated against them for taking their earned sick time. AMFA will continue to fight to protect the AMFA members who earn paid sick time benefits. For more information, please visit the Southwest Airlines page of the AMFA National Website.
The AMFA and Horizon Air (QX) negotiating committees met in Seattle on January 5, 2024, to start the negotiation process, and present bullet point openers. The committees met in Seattle again on February 5-7, 2024, and TA’d the following articles:
Article 4 Seniority (minor revisions to re-entry from a temporary management job)
Article 12 Holidays (Veterans Day added)
Article 16 Management Rights (no substantive changes)
Article 17 Union Business (AMFA will no longer have to reimburse the Company for Union negotiators under some circumstances)
Article 19 No Strikes or Lockouts (no substantive changes)
During the February 27-29 session, the committee TA’d articles:
Article 11 Furlough and Recall (Severance Pay)
Article 15 Leaves of Absence (Bereavement)
Article 18 Union Security and Representation (Agency Fee)
Article 20 Grievance Procedures and System Board (Pick of Arbitrators & 12mo. personal file)
Article 21 Health, Safety & Standards (Select Safety Committee & Address unsafe conditions)
The committees agreed to meet again on March 11-13 in Seattle. For further updates, please visit the Horizon Air page of the AMFA National website.
Please utilize your carrier’s Safety Reporting System (SRS) when you feel there are safety or compliance concerns while performing your job. In addition to your carrier’s SRS, the FAA Hotline may be utilized to report concerns about aviation safety: https://hotline.faa.gov/. We must realize our immense responsibility as FAA-certified airmen to exercise judgment on the airworthiness of aircraft and equipment. We, therefore, pledge unyielding adherence to these precepts for the advancement of public safety of aviation and for the dignity of our craft.
I ask you to remain vigilant and engaged with your union and officers. In doing so, monitor your respective carrier page on the AMFA National website for airline-specific details. Our most determined efforts will only succeed with your support and participation – please stay engaged and informed.