Callin' in sick at USAirways!

Derg

New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
Callin\' in sick at USAirways!

To All Flight Attendants:

The future success of US Airways is dependent upon a reliable schedule and reliable service for our customers. Our ability to maintain dependable service is profoundly jeopardized if we are unable to meet our schedule and service demands 365 days a year. In order for the Company to meet such competitive demands, the regular attendance of its flight attendants is critical.

Unfortunately, the difficulties crew scheduling continues to face while covering trips due to unexpected and excessive sick calls as well as reserves failing to be in base while on duty often contribute to an unreliable schedule for our customers. We believe it is important to emphasize that we fully recognize that the majority of our hard-working flight attendants report to work regularly and properly and that they are also impacted when they are required to cover trips left open by those who are excessively absent.

We would like to share a few recent situations with you to illustrate the impact that late sick calls, sick calls received when reserves are assigned a trip or reserves positioned out of base while on duty can have on our operation:

• On October 31, 2003, crew scheduling was forced to contact five flight attendants to cover just one position on a trip departing the following day. After the lineholder called in sick, the first four reserves that were contacted claimed they were too ill to fly. These were reserves that were scheduled to be available and crew scheduling had counted on as being available.

• You may also have heard of a recent situation in which crew scheduling was forced to replace a transatlantic crew who had become illegal due to a maintenance delay. When crew scheduling began the process of contacting replacement flight attendants, they were severely thwarted in their efforts due to reserves either being positioned out of base or alleging they were too ill to fly. After an unsuccessful attempt to fully staff the flight with in-base flight attendants, the decision was made to staff it with out of base flight attendants. The problem continued, however, when reserves in the alternate base alleged they were unavailable to fly for similar reasons. The flight was eventually staffed and departed over six hours after crew scheduling was notified of the need to re-crew the flight, further inconveniencing our valued customers.

• Most recently, on December 5, 2003, crew scheduling was once again faced with the need to replace an entire transatlantic crew. They were eventually successful in filling the nine positions necessary to avoid canceling the flight. However, of the nine flight attendants who fulfilled their obligations, nine additional reserves were unavailable for reasons similar to those in the previous example.

Similar scenarios are occurring with more frequency and increasingly impacting our operation. As a result, we wanted to take some time to review the Company’s expectations of you by reiterating current requirements and defining the parameters regarding notification of absences for both lineholders and reserves. Please familiarize yourself with the following definitions, requirements and action that will be taken should a flight attendant fail to follow the parameters as outlined below:

Excessive Sick Calls- Sick calls are intended to be used for the employee’s own illness. Any sick occurrence in excess of five (5) is considered excessive. Unless there are mitigating circumstances surrounding a sick call, flight attendants will be progressed in the Dependability Control Program (DCP) for any occurrence above five.

Late Sick Calls- All flight attendants are required to report their legitimate illness/injury as soon as practicable after realizing they are unable to report to work. Effective December 19, 2003, a sick call received by crew scheduling less than two hours prior to check in time will be documented as a Late Sick Call and will be considered a dependability event in the Dependability Control Program (DCP).

Sick On Contact - A reserve flight attendant who is unavailable due to his/her own legitimate illness/injury is required to report his/her sick status prior to becoming available to crew scheduling. Effective December 19, 2003, a flight attendant who fails to notify crew scheduling that he/she is sick prior to being contacted will incur a Sick On Contact. The Sick On Contact may be considered both a dependability event in the Dependability Control Program (DCP) and a conduct event wherein the flight attendant will be put on notice that any future misconduct event of the same or similar nature may result in his/her termination.

Reserve Out of Base- A flight attendant is considered to be out of base if he/she is not positioned within one (1) hour traveling time by surface transportation of the check-in point when he/she is on reserve duty. Effective December 19, 2003, a Reserve Out of Base may be considered both a dependability event in the Dependability Control Program (DCP) and a conduct event wherein the flight attendant will be put on notice that any future misconduct event of the same or similar nature will result in his/her termination.

A flight attendant may be required to speak to a supervisor, a duty manager and/or a medical professional depending on the circumstances surrounding a sick call and, in some cases, he/she may be required to seek medical treatment.

While the above reminders and definitions may be considered extreme by the majority of flight attendants who are dependable and report to work regularly and with the utmost professionalism, the Company finds it necessary and appropriate to address those few individuals who do not meet their obligations as employees. We thank you in advance for your understanding of the need to put these measures in place to ensure we do our part to maintain a reliable operation.

Sincerely,
Sherry Groff
Vice President, Inflight Services

Robert A. Fuhr
Director, Crew Scheduling and Planning
 

mtsu_av8er

Well-Known Member
Re: Callin\' in sick at USAirways!

I'll put $50 on the flight attendants.

And I'll give the company another 18 months at the most.
 

shooter13

New Member
Re: Callin\' in sick at USAirways!

That really doesn't seem like a lot to ask of them though. Gee if you are on reserve doesn't it make sense that you should let the company know ahead of time that you are sick?
 

Derg

New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
Re: Callin\' in sick at USAirways!

Actually, it's a catch-22 when you're sick on reserve.

If you call in sick while on reserve, you're absolutely guaranteed to lose that day of pay. Some airlines have a max sick leave usage so sick time might not even cover that day you've called in.

If you're sick, and you haven't notified crew scheduling of your unavailability and they don't call you, you don't miss any pay.

If you're sick, then you notify crew scheduling that you are sick, you're going to lose pay whether or not you were going to get called.

Flight attendants don't make all that much money and quite a few of them are the primary breadwinners for their family so every cent counts.
 

shooter13

New Member
Re: Callin\' in sick at USAirways!

That makes sense but from the companies perspective, they expect that a reserve is available when called.

How many days a month are reserves scheduled? It doesn't seem right that a person is being paid to be available to fly even if they are sick and are not available to fly. Can they pick up other reserve days if they have to miss one for being sick?
 

Derg

New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
Re: Callin\' in sick at USAirways!

I don't know how the FA's reserve system works at USAir. MQAAord might have the skinny on the details there.
 

shooter13

New Member
Re: Callin\' in sick at USAirways!

How does it work at Delta? Also, how does this relate to the way things work with the pilots?

Very interesting stuff.
 

ready2fly

Well-Known Member
Re: Callin\' in sick at USAirways!

Hey, my wife, my bro-n-law and several folks here in the office have had that flu that's "going around" and it's serious bidness.

I'm sure not all were truly sick, but if some were - they were and it would be more of a disservice to the pax for a sick F/A to be on board than it would be a valuable service.

Just MHO.
 

little_cricket

Well-Known Member
Re: Callin\' in sick at USAirways!

"one (1) hour traveling time by surface transportation of the check-in point when he/she is on reserve duty." That one hour call out is the worst of any airline I know of, including regionals. At my airport, it takes 30 minutes from the parking lot to check in. I feel bad for the F/As, they get abused and are underpaid. At my airline, I was told there is 70% turnover for F/As. It is easy to see why.
 

Derg

New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
Re: Callin\' in sick at USAirways!

We had a one-hour callup at Skyway as well.

I have to specifically use my former airline's name else a couple of punks on the ALPA national forums will whine like babies.
 

b_r

New Member
Re: Callin\' in sick at USAirways!

A smart company might have started this letter to its only valuable commodity (employees) with a tone like:

We know morale is as low as it can get right now and there is a nasty flu bug across the country, but...

I can only imagine how the honest FA's who were actually sick feel after this friendly "reminder". I don't think USAir will be around much longer with this situation--it will only get worse unless management makes some drastic positive measures. And they don't really teach that in B-school now, do they?
 

Derg

New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
Re: Callin\' in sick at USAirways!

[ QUOTE ]
And they don't really teach that in B-school now, do they?

[/ QUOTE ]

Nope.

My friend, you have clarity!
 

shooter13

New Member
Re: Callin\' in sick at USAirways!

So none of you think there is anything wrong with the company expecting someone on reserve to let the company know ahead of time if they can't fly?

I understand the pay arguments for the FA's but if they are being paid to be available why shouldn't they have to be available? What am I missing? I mean it is a good deal for the FA if you can get paid on a day you aren't intending to work anyway but it seems like somewhat of a scam.

I agree the 1 hour call out thing doesn't seem reasonable though.
 

ready2fly

Well-Known Member
Re: Callin\' in sick at USAirways!

[ QUOTE ]
So none of you think there is anything wrong with the company expecting someone on reserve to let the company know ahead of time if they can't fly?


[/ QUOTE ]
Good point. I know I would if I were in that situation (let my company know ahead of time).
 

Derg

New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
Re: Callin\' in sick at USAirways!

Actually, currently working for an airline and knowing what is going on behind the scenes, the larger issue isn't sick leave for flight attendants.

The flight attendants at USAir was getting a 'triple-whammy'.

They're furloughing more flight attendants, so many are stressed out and scrambling to resecure employment. Big stress, lowered resistance to the flu bug.

The cold & flu season this year is HUGE. I haven't seen more sick people on the airplanes (both crew and passengers) than I've seen in years.

Also, USAirways cut it's ranks to the bone so the few that they have left are literally working themselves to death.

Instead of the beancounter running the place realizing that flight attendants aren't mechanical devices, they're further pressuring them not to call in sick.

More sick flight attendants means more sick flight attendants and pilots. Because some of the worst colds I've had in my life were from other crewmembers working with seemingly the bubonic plague that were too high'n'mighty to call in sick, then it spirals downward into a murky goo.

Sick leave at USAirways is a symptom of a much larger problem.
 

b_r

New Member
Re: Callin\' in sick at USAirways!

[ QUOTE ]
So none of you think there is anything wrong with the company expecting someone on reserve to let the company know ahead of time if they can't fly?

[/ QUOTE ]

I do see that as an unethical practice.

But that is an indicator of a much larger issue of horrendously poor employee morale. Not knowing anyone at usair, I can't really speak for them, but if management has to address these issues on a wide scale, there has got to be something else going on than is at the surface.
 

ricecakecm

Well-Known Member
Re: Callin\' in sick at USAirways!

[ QUOTE ]


Also, USAirways cut it's ranks to the bone so the few that they have left are literally working themselves to death.


[/ QUOTE ]

My father-in-law works for US Airways as a B-737 F/O. He's barely holding a line after having been there for 14+ years.

Anyways, he worked X-mas day, and commuted home to St Louis after his trip. Got home on the 26th. My wife and I were at their house before he got home and US Airways called him that morning, before he was home, asking him to take another trip.

This isn't that uncommon. He almost always gets a call asking to fly another trip within a day of getting home.

His question is "If they're calling me within a day of a trip ending to fly another trip, why not bring guys off of furlough to at least sit reserve?"
 

MQAAord

Scheherazade
Staff member
Re: Callin\' in sick at USAirways!

I don't know any specifics about how USAir's reserve system works. But generally if you're on reserve you're supposed to be 'at base', and able to make whatever call out your airline has. (Some airlines have complecated long-call/short call systems that allow commuting on reserve.) At AA in the summer of 2002 a new 'reserve preferences' system was implemented. Supposedly it was to let you put in criteria for trips that you want. The criteria were things like show times, finish times, co-terminal (LGA/JFK/EWR, when I was NY based I was responsible for covering trips at all three airports!), overnight city, etc. It was nice in theory, but scheduling was not required in anyway to honor your preferences. I put in that I wanted trips out of LGA or JFK.. To get to EWR from my crash pad in Kew Gardens took up to three hours and cost $20 if you took a shuttle from LGA or $70 if you had to take Sureway (cab). The first trip I got after the preferences system went into effect was standby (where you have to physically go to the airport to sit reserve) at EWR! Exactly what I did NOT want! I don't know if USAir has a system like that or not.

I can tell you from personal experience that when morale is low, it can be REALLY hard to find the motivation to come to work. USAir is calling people back from voluntary leaves, these are people who WANT to be off, and they're involuntarily furloughing people who WANT to work. That is nuts! When I found out I was getting furloughed for the second time, I had no desire what-so-ever to go through the effort of commuting out to NY to sit my butt on reserve. My mind was anywhere but work. In fact, I used vacation pay to drop almost all of my reserve days. I ended up only having to go to NY once after I got my furlough letter. I sat one day of reserve, and turned around and went right back home. I just didn't want to be there. Using vac pay to drop reserve days is what I did so I could be off, I do NOT advocate calling in sick when you're not, or not being at base when you're supposed to be. Dropping days like that is usually subject to staffing levels, so it's probably not an option for USAir folks right now. You shouldn't call in sick if you're not, but I know exactly how they feel, and I can totally relate.

Basically you get from people what you give. When employees are treated like crap and made to feel expendable (like I felt), you don't get much productivity out of them! When I left there was very much the 'okay, I'm only doing as much as I have to' mentality. So the job gets done, but there's no spirit, no heart in it anymore, and the pax can see that!
 

Tim

New Member
Re: Callin\' in sick at USAirways!

I agree with Doug that the FA's are in a tough situation. I was off at Delta on christmas day but the ramp guys said it got to be funny as whether or not the flight was going. The passenger ultimately suffers but sometimes points have to be made to management. I know here in ATL the flu as be going around bad and lots of sickouts and of course the "attitude sick days". One are on the ramp the other day had 24 sickouts. That was after the started requiring us to have dr notes even for being out 2 days. You were exempt from that though if you had only missed 2 days or less in the previous year. Then they wanted a bunch of information on the note that violated the privacy act. Upper management was presented the letter and stated it needed to be reviewed by legal. The 3 directors took it among themselves to create the letter. A bunch of folks sicked out the days before. The letter took effect for 11/14 though 1/12 the day we start our new bids....
 
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