- Preparation work for contract negotiations is underway and many of us are starting to talk about improvements we’d like to see in our next contract.
- We need to make sure that our Negotiating Committee has every possible advantage to give us the strongest position at the bargaining table. Things that we say or do may have an impact on the strength of that position.
- Being mindful of the conversations we have and what we post online will help to keep management from getting the upper hand over our Negotiating Committee.
The anticipation is building as we get ready for negotiations to start in September 2022 and many of us are already having conversations about what we’d like to see in our next contract. But did you know that some things you may be doing could inadvertently give management an advantage over our Negotiating Committee? Read on to find out how you can put our Negotiating Committee in the best possible position to secure a contract that recognizes the contributions that we’ve made to the company’s success.
1. Beware of “Innocent Conversations” With Supervisors
Imagine that you’re checking in for your trip when an inflight supervisor comes up to you and starts to chat. The two of you make small talk, chatting about your trip, plans for your layover, etc. and you think nothing of it. But then, the conversation takes a turn. “So, I heard that contract negotiations are starting soon,” says the supervisor. “What do you think the Flight Attendants are going to want to see changed?” What would you say???
Just like any situation where two groups are negotiating, management wants to know what’s important to the Flight Attendant group so they can use this information to their advantage at the bargaining table. Having inside knowledge gives management leverage as they can make it more difficult for our Negotiating Committee to bargain on the most important provisions and reduce the overall improvements that we can achieve in a new contract. These types of conversations may also cross the line into direct dealing, which occurs when management bypasses our Negotiating Committee and deals directly with an employee on areas that are subject to negotiations. Direct dealing violates requirements that management bargain in good faith and is illegal under federal law.
If you’re faced with a situation where a supervisor is trying to ask you what you think about negotiations, the best thing to do is let them know that our Negotiating Committee speaks for our Flight Attendant group. You can say, “My Negotiating Committee will discuss that at the bargaining table,” or something as simple as, “My Negotiating Committee speaks for me.” If the supervisor won’t let it go, remove yourself from the area and report the incident on the AFA Alaska Online Support Center.
2. Keep Your Contract Ideas Off Social Media
There’s no such thing as secret when it comes to social media (screenshots are forever, after all). No matter how locked down a particular post might be or how active a group’s admins are at moderating content, information always seems to find a way to leak out. In the past, details of posts that were made on personal social media accounts or in “private” or “secret” groups have ended up in management’s hands. Given the fact that it’s happened before, it’s safe to assume that anything that’s posted on social media will make its way to management at some point.
Even though it may be with the best of intentions, social media is not the place to share ideas about what you might want to see in a future contract. If these ideas end up in management’s hands, it puts our Negotiating Committee at a disadvantage and weakens their ability to achieve the best possible contract for us all. The best thing to do? Tell our Negotiating Committee directly! There are opportunities coming up to share your thoughts, ideas for change and improvement, challenges you’ve experienced under the current contract, or anything else that’s on your mind about negotiations. These include the upcoming Negotiating Committee Listening Sessions and the Negotiations Survey that everyone will be able to participate in this summer.
3. Don’t Send Your Wish List to Management
Picture this—you’re at the car dealership about to make an offer on your dream car. Before you do, the salesperson passes you a sheet of paper and on it are the maximum amount the dealership will give you for your trade-in, what the minimum offer they would accept is, and what would be willing to throw in and let you have for free. It looks they they’ll give you way more for your trade-in than you thought you could get!
We all know that no car dealership in their right mind would hand over their entire negotiating strategy to a perspective buyer. So why would we want to send our list of negotiating priorities directly to management? Contract negotiations are just that—a negotiation that has a starting point for both parties and goes from there. Both sides have an obligation to negotiate in good faith as part of that process. But handing over your entire wish list to the people whose job it is to minimize expenses and maximize work output? That’s an approach that doesn’t make sense and is likely to leave our Negotiating Committee facing a steep, uphill climb.
Instead of sending your ideas to management, let our Negotiating Committee know what’s on your mind! You can email them directly or submit an online feedback form at any time. Find their contact information at https://contract2022.afaalaska.org/contact.