|AMFA Locals and Members
National President’s Monthly Update for November & December 2023
January 2, 2024
It is an absolute honor to be representing skilled aircraft maintenance professionals and continuing the unification of these professions under one craft-specific union. 2023 has come to a close, and we can proudly reflect on the Association’s many achievements last year in the United States and Canada. AMFA leadership has proactively and purposefully committed to raising standards and increasing the recognition of our craft/trade in the aviation industry. Guiding non-unionized, skilled workgroups to unionize exemplifies AMFA’s influence on labor in the aviation industry, and it is evident that craft-specific representation under AMFA is desired. In March 2023, AMFA was certified to represent its seventh airline/employer, and I predict further accelerated growth in the new year as more skilled workgroups seek AMFA.
AMFA will continue to be the voice of Aircraft Maintenance Technicians/Engineers (AMTs/AMEs) and related employees by protecting your work and ability to earn, raising wages, and improving benefits. In 2023, AMFA ratified industry-changing contracts for Appearance Technicians, Facility Maintenance Technicians, and Aircraft Maintenance Technicians at Southwest Airlines. We are continuing negotiations in 2024 at Alaska Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Sun Country, and WestJet Airlines in pursuit of the contracts our members deserve. AMFA members’ voices were heard via elections, referenda, and surveys throughout 2023.
AMFA would like to thank the AME Association of Ontario and President Louis Anderson for their hospitality at the Annual Celebration of 50 Years of the Canadian Competition Skills Event. This event was a platform for 13 teams to compete with new technology and innovative learning. AMFA had an opportunity to speak with students, academic faculty, industry representatives, regulators, the private sector, and general aviation AMEs who were in attendance. Warm thanks to everyone who visited our booth and to the Canadian Aviation Sectors who offered AME recognition. It was great to hang with the honorable John Goglia and Sam Longo, A&P AME and legendary Canadian author of “A Wrench in the Wings - Life Lessons from an Aircraft Mechanic,” who were also in attendance at the event.
AMFA provided various training sessions for our union officers and representatives throughout the year, including Local Secretary and Treasurer training in October (DEN) and Shop Representative Training in March (MCO) and October (LAS). We highly encourage anyone interested in being a Shop Representative to contact your Airline Representative, or anyone interested in conflict resolution and professional standards to contact your Local Safety and Standards Chair to attend our invaluable training courses.
Our legislative initiatives and achievements have demonstrated AMFA’s leadership and influence 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. A few highlights of the original version of S.1939 are:
SEC 311 - FAA oversight of repair stations located outside the U.S.
SEC 312 - Alcohol and drug testing and background checks on repair stations outside the U.S.
SEC 326 - Whistleblower protections
SEC 503 - Choose Aerospace ATEC
SEC 504 - Military aviation maintenance technician rules
SEC 510 - Airman Certification Standards (ACS)
The real challenge here is not which unions are “allowing” outsourcing, but which are working most effectively to protect American jobs and wages. The reality is that labor organizations should be working together to alert the flying public to the risks of critical aircraft maintenance performed by non-licensed aviation technicians, both domestically and internationally. When the flying public better understands these issues, perhaps the airlines will see the value in quality maintenance. To combat foreign outsourcing, AMFA has steadfastly advocated for the implementation of laws for drug and alcohol testing standards for maintenance employees who work on aircraft at certificated foreign repair stations. We are committed to this mission and, with or without the help of the other unions, will do all we can to alert people to the safety risks when airlines outsource maintenance. Hopefully, the flying public will champion this cause along with us, and we can recapture more of the work that has been lost.
The AMFA Political Action Committee (PAC) membership has increased by 30% this year with substantial growth in technician support via payroll deduction and direct contributions. These contributors are giving to the first and only PAC focused on promoting aircraft technicians and related issues. AMFA PAC opens doors, affording our profession more access, influence, and potential legislative victories for our craft-related issues. Please consider joining AMFA PAC and make our voice louder. Please visit the Government Affairs Updates page of the AMFA National Website for further details and answers to commonly asked questions about AMFA PAC.
AMFA and the WestJet Airlines (WJA) negotiating committees met on November 7-9, in Toronto to continue negotiations towards a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The greater part of the session was dedicated to reviewing Company proposals designed to avert litigation over WestJet’s implementation of a new Operations Manager (OM) position that has usurped the job duties of the Aircraft Maintenance Lead (AML) classification, which the Canada Industrial Review Board (CIRB) has certified AMFA to represent. Before these negotiations, AMFA had agreed to delay the filing of charges with the CIRB, and WestJet had agreed to pause further implementation of the OM program while the parties explored a negotiated resolution. Unfortunately, the Company simultaneously proposed the replacement of the existing Aircraft Maintenance Lead (AML) and Inspector Crew Lead (ICL) positions with a new Operational Lead (OL) position, which the Company described as an “ICL-plus” classification. The effect of the proposal would be to formally eliminate the AML position and shift the lion’s share of its functions outside of our bargaining unit to the OM. It is AMFA’s position that the proposal is unlawful, hence why on December 11, 2023, AMFA filed unfair labour practice charges against WestJet with the CIRB. AMFA’s charges allege WestJet’s actions have “caused disarray within maintenance operations and hostility among co-workers whose integrated efforts are critical to maintenance safety culture.
The parties met again on December 6-8, 2023, in Halifax. WestJet presented proposals that would have the effect of reducing employee rights below the standards outlined in the Canada Labour Code. On the positive side, the parties reached an agreement on an article addressing Discipline. Overall, progress was slow. However, the parties have scheduled two consecutive weeks of negotiations in late January in Vancouver and Calgary, and we are hopeful that WestJet will take a more constructive approach to the bargaining process. The scorecard reflects nine (9) articles that have been tentatively agreed to, WestJet has eight (8) articles from AMFA to counter, and AMFA has thirteen (13) articles from WestJet to give a counter. We encourage you to attend and participate in the AMFA caucuses. I want to thank all the observers who attended, asked questions, and engaged in this unique, transparent negotiation process.
At L3 Harris MAS (L3), we are in exploratory discussions on the implementation of a new station in Ottawa to maintain two new A330 aircraft to the L3 fleet, while the Trenton, ON membership will continue to maintain the A310 fleet. In December, a grievance was filed to find a resolution, and both parties continue to discuss options for the two stations under AMFA representation.
The AMFA and Alaska Airlines (AS) negotiating committees held bargaining sessions on November 28- 29 in Seattle to continue bargaining toward a successor CBA. Following the Company’s financial presentation on the state of the airline and its projections moving into 2024, AMFA presented its proposal, which contained changes to the September AIP in specific response to feedback from the membership during our roadshow. Unfortunately, the Company advised AMFA that it needed time to cost AMFA’s proposal and discuss it with senior leadership. The parties utilized the time together to go through the September AIP and close out several remaining cleanup items that were previously unresolved. The parties agreed to meet January 9-11 and January 23-25 in Seattle.
After a year of unproductive negotiations with Sun Country Airlines (SCA), AMFA filed for mediation with the National Mediation Board (NMB). We have been assigned a mediator and are awaiting mediation session dates.
It is our opinion that the Spirit Airlines Negotiating Committee, especially its lead negotiator, has deliberately stalled negotiations in the hope that a merger with JetBlue would change union representation. This type of gamesmanship with your careers is acceptable; therefore, your Negotiating Committee decided it was time to file for mediation with the NMB. We have been assigned a mediator and are awaiting mediation session dates.
The AMFA-Southwest Airlines (SWA) AMT CBA ratified in July places the top-of-scale wage at 20.5% over a three-year period, which sets the all-in top-of-scale wage at $65.79. The SWA ALRs are currently in discussions regarding digital day trades and automation.
On December 19 and 28, the AMFA-Horizon Air (QX) Negotiation Committee met to review articles and the Association’s direction for contract openers scheduled for January 5, 2024, in Seattle.
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 used to report concerns about aviation safety: https://hotline.faa.gov/. We must realize our immense responsibility as FAA-certified technicians 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.
“Life’s not about expecting, hoping and wishing, it's about doing, being and becoming.” -Mike Dooley
I wish you all a safe and Happy New Year!