We have received several questions regarding the Company’s decision to file for mediation. We have included many of the questions in the Q & A below. However, if you have further questions please do not hesitate to reply to this email.
1. What is the process for mediation?
The National Mediation Board (NMB) may become involved in mediation when the parties fail to reach an agreement in direct bargaining. Either party, the Company or the Union individually, or both together, may request the NMB’s services to assist in the collective bargaining process. Once the NMB has assigned a mediator to the process, negotiations continue with the help of the mediator until an agreement is reached or the Board determines that its efforts to mediate have been unsuccessful, at which time it seeks to induce the parties to submit the dispute to arbitration. If either party refuses the proffer of arbitration, the Board issues a notice stating that the parties have failed to resolve the dispute through mediation. The notice triggers a thirty-day cooling-off period, after which either side may avail itself of self-help, which may include an employee strike.
2. Was there a threat to strike made?
No, there are very strict legal guidelines and processes that employees governed under the Railway Labor Act must follow in order to strike or threaten to strike.
3. What does entering into mediation mean to our current negotiations?
It means the National Mediation Board may assign the same mediator currently assigned to the ERJ contract or an additional mediator to facilitate our negotiations. That facilitation includes setting dates and locations for negotiations sessions, actual mediation between the two parties and monitoring progress. However, the mediator has no authority to force agreement upon the parties or to dictate the terms of settlement.
4. When will negotiations sessions begin again?
Now that the Company has made the decision to file for mediation under the CRJ contract, the Company will have to officially file and the NMB may appoint a mediator as discussed above. The IAM is willing to meet at any time; however, the mediator may assist in setting a location and dates for the next sessions. We will send out updates as soon as we have information regarding the mediator assigned and any upcoming negotiation sessions.
5. Who is filing for mediation now?
The Company made the decision to file for mediation for the CRJ contract.
6. Can you file for mediation for just particular sections of the contract or is it for the entire contract?
No, once you file for mediation the NMB is involved in all aspects of contract negotiations until you have reached a tentative agreement or mediation is deemed unsuccessful as outlined above in question 1.
7. Why is the Company filing for mediation?
The Company has been unable to address our reasonable proposals and therefore determined they need help in bargaining over our differences. Remember, these differences did not happen overnight as we had indicated in previous updates. While progress on many items was being made there were still substantial differences on specific items. Just a few of the items are sick time, commuter clause and per diem. We will have more updates regarding contested issues in future negotiations updates.
8. Has the committee tried to resolve the dispute?
Your negotiations committee has worked tirelessly to develop reasonable proposals based on our current ERJ and CRJ contracts and we are willing to continue talks, with or without the participation of the NMB, in an effort to reach an agreement. However, the Company feels it’s necessary to file for mediation. We do not object to this filing and we welcome any opportunity to bargain a contract that we deserve and that addresses our needs.
9. Why is the mediation filed separately for CRJ and ERJ if we are in joint contract negotiations?
As you know we are currently under two separate contracts, one for CRJ flight attendants and another for ERJ flight attendants. The IAM had already entered into negotiations for the ERJ contract at the time the merger was announced between Atlantic Southeast and ExpressJet. During those negotiations the Company made it clear they were not interested in negotiating for the ERJ contract and the IAM chose to file for mediation at that time. Once the IAM was certified by the NMB as the bargaining unit for both CRJ and ERJ flight attendants, we entered into joint contract negotiations to merge the two groups’ contracts. In order to have the NMB intervene in the joint contract negotiations it is necessary for a filing for mediation to occur for the CRJ contract.
10. Is there a problem or something personal with the negotiating committee that caused the Company to file for mediation?
No, there is nothing but professionalism displayed by your negotiations committee members in all dealings with the Company. This filing is due to fundamental differences in what the Company is willing to offer and what we are willing to accept. We refuse to go backward.
11. Does the entire negotiating committee agree on the specific issues that we are in disagreement with the Company on?
Yes, we agree unanimously that we are doing the right thing by standing our ground in negotiations. Throughout our negotiation it has become more and more apparent on our committees that regardless of which mainline partner we support, what base you’re from or if you’re CRJ or ERJ, we all want the same things.
As industry leaders it is now more important than ever that we stand together in solidarity. These negotiations will have a profound and lasting effect not only on the flight attendants of ExpressJet, but also on the entire regional industry. It is our responsibility to defend our collective bargaining rights for our families and ourselves, so that we may maintain and improve our quality of life. It is up to us to build and progress our profession as safety professionals.