Last update: August 17, 2017
Letter sent to Norwegian about poor rostering
A letter to Chief Operations Officer, Asgeir Nyseth, has been sent to highlight the continual problem of overstaffing and poor rostering. A copy of the letter can be found here:
Last update: May 18, 2017
NCCA CERTIFICATION HAS BEEN TRANSFERRED TO THE AFA
After the majority of US-based cabin crew members voted to become the 20th chapter of the Association of Flight Attendants on March 30th, NCCA President Valentin Lorien sent a letter to the National Mediation Board requesting that the NMB transfer NCCA’s certification to the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA on March 31st: NCCA transfer of certification. Management raised objections to the affiliation vote, but the National Mediation Board found Management’s accusations baseless and transferred NCCA’s certification to the AFA-CWA on May 17th. A copy of the certification can be found here:
Last Update: March 1st, 2017
NCCA SEEKS AFFILIATION WITH THE AFA
As stated in our most recent Negotiations Update on February 16th, Management did not agree to our request for payroll deduction of union dues. Because our Union is an independent union, we do not receive any financial support from outside sources and must rely on the collection of union dues to survive. Management knew very well what their decision meant for us—that our independent union would become redundant, ineffective, and unable to negotiate a Union Contract.
To know the seriousness of the situation we’re in, is to understand exactly what’s at stake. Negotiating a Union Contract requires valuable resources including lawyers, economists and other professional advisers who help us negotiate the best agreement possible. Contract negotiations are not just about both sides sitting down at a table and saying “we want this and we want that.”
A Union Contract is divided up into dozens of topics called “articles” and airline contracts average about thirty articles. Each article, from the simplest (e.g. Hotels) to the most complicated (e.g. Scheduling) is discussed and scrutinized in excess because the resulting agreement will become a binding legal document that the Union and the Company must abide by. Before any Union proposal is passed across the table, it is carefully constructed utilizing survey results and feedback from members, compared and contrasted to the industry standard (other airline contracts), and the final language is approved by professional contract negotiators and lawyers. This has to be done for every article of the contract. A union must have adequate tools and resources at their disposal to negotiate the best agreement possible for its members and our Union is no different. By denying our ability to collect union dues, Management is counting on negotiating a weak agreement with a “weak union.” To us this is unacceptable. Because Management has put our Union in the impossible situation of functioning without money, your Union is forced to change and change we must.
The NCCA Executive Board discussed what the next course of action should be for our Union and last week, we flew to Washington, D.C. to meet with the International President of the Association of Flight Attendants, Sara Nelson. At the meeting, we discussed the prospect of forming our own chapter within AFA. Sara and her team said they would be honored to represent the US-based Norwegian Flight Attendants and we proceeded to have a long talk about the challenges ahead.
Some of you are already familiar with AFA because they helped us when Management filed a legal challenge against our workgroup in June 2015. To recap, the Company told the US government that we, their US-based Flight Attendants, are not airline employees because we don’t work for the airline (Norwegian) but a staffing company (OSM). Both Norwegian and OSM hired high-powered expensive law firms to argue their case to the US government. Without money nor legal expertise, we asked the AFA if they were willing to help us. Without hesitation, Sara Nelson got back to us the same day. Sara told us that the AFA would hire a law firm to help us and they would pay for it. We told Sara beforehand that our goal was to form an independent union and not be a part of the AFA and her response was, “we will [still] help you because your success matters to Flight Attendants everywhere.” We ended up winning the legal determination and it paved the way for us to organize as an independent union late last year.
Without the help of the AFA, we would not have achieved everything we have today. We simply didn’t have the necessary resources to win the legal determination which declared Norwegian as our legal employer and classified Norwegian’s US-based Flight Attendants as airline employees protected under the Railway Labor Act.
Despite the fact that the AFA has repeatedly stated that they’re supportive of Norwegian’s US-based Flight Attendants and our efforts, they have also been a long-time opponent of Norwegian’s business model and instrumental in the “DenyNAI” campaign. Sara understands this is a contentious issue for some of you and she strongly believes AFA’s efforts are necessary to protect our jobs at Norwegian as well. Sara promises to write a letter to you tomorrow, and make herself available in FLL/JFK meetings and a webcast, to address this and other issues pertinent to our workgroup.
Finally, the decision to join AFA cannot be made by the NCCA Executive Board—an affiliation must be approved by you, the Union Members. Please know that your Executive Board would not have proposed this affiliation to you if we did not believe it was the best option for our workgroup. Voting to join with AFA means our Union will be provided with a negotiations budget, a professional negotiator, AFA legal assistance and the full weight of the largest flight attendant union in the world. We would gain all of this and AFA will not require you to pay any dues until we ratify our first contract.
Last Update: February 16th, 2017
1ST NEGOTIATIONS SESSION WITH MANAGEMENT
On February 14th and 15th, the NCCA and Management met in Fort Lauderdale for our very first meeting. The meeting was presided over by Federal mediator Anthony Tosi from the National Mediation Board. Representing the NCCA were the President, Valentin Lorien and two Vice Presidents: Katarzyna Mroczek and Theodore Pavlik. The representatives for Management were HR Manager of OSM, Phil Villani and Business Manager of OSM, Beate Jakobsen.
The first day was an overview of the negotiations process under the direction of a mediator. On the second day, the mediator gave the chance for both sides to start negotiations and signaled to the Union that we start with non-compensation proposals. The NCCA came prepared and passed across four (4) articles of our proposal. The articles we passed across were: Staff Travel, Hotel and Layover Requirements, Crew Bases and Moving Expenses, and Seniority. There was a lot of discussion on all of the Union’s proposals and some of the comments and reaction of Management were encouraging; however, the comments and reaction to other items were troubling as it appears the most important items in our proposals cannot be negotiated by the Management representatives present at the table. Management is required to respond to our proposals on April 5th, the date of our next scheduled meeting. The Union plans on passing four (4) additional proposals to Management at our April 5th meeting.
The most disappointing moment at the meeting, though, is when Management said that they would not allow the NCCA to start collecting Union Dues. Many words were exchanged and it’s apparent that Management is still upset at our Union victories last year when we won every legal battle against the Management and finally emerged victorious with our union being voted in. You can say that Management is being unfair, which is true, but they have the legal right to say no, and they did.
The inability of our Union to collect dues is very serious as it will affect our ability to successfully negotiate a contract and Management knows this. Without dues money, our Union cannot afford the legal advisers (lawyers), economic advisers, and other professional services that result in you, our members, receiving the best contract we can negotiate.
Your Executive Board is now tasked with figuring out the next plan of action for our Union, and ask that you trust the Union to have your best interests at heart. Whatever we decide, we will still be unionized employees and still meet our obligation to continue to meet with Management to negotiate, as required by the mediator.
We hope to have much more encouraging news for you in the near future, so please, continue to check your personal email for important updates from the NCCA. The mediator scheduled two negotiations sessions in April: 5-6th and 26-27th and another session in May: 9-11th.
Last Update: February 8th, 2017
MANAGEMENT TRIES TO CIRCUMVENT THE UNION’S AUTHORITY
Yesterday the Company sent out an email announcing the members of the “Working Environment Committee.” We have been told that the committee members are responsible for “acting as the liaison between Management and the cabin crew.” The creation of the committee is illegal under Federal Law and we sent Management an email asking them to rectify the situation. We are aware that a couple of the committee members already resigned from their positions and we applaud them for this. NCCA’s previous letters to Management regarding the WEC can be found by scrolling down on this page to “Working Environment Committee and Job Share Program.”
Last Update: January 17, 2017
A FEDERAL MEDIATOR HAS BEEN ASSIGNED TO OUR CASE
The National Mediation Board has assigned Mediator A. Michael Tosi to handle our case. A copy of the letter from the NMB can be found here Assignment Notice NMB Case No. A-13838 NAS-OSM Aviation-NCCA. You can read more about mediator Tosi and his experience on the NMB website: http://www.nmb.gov/about-nmb/officials-staff/nmb-board/office-of-mediation-adr-services
The NCCA President Valentin Lorien aleady contacted Mr. Tossi to let him know that the NCCA is ready to meet as soon as possible.
Last Update: January 16, 2017
NATIONAL MEDIATION BOARD RESPONDS TO OUR REQUEST FOR MEDIATION
The National Mediation Board notified all parties (Norwegian, OSM, and the NCCA) that the request for mediation has been “docketed” has received a case number. A copy of the notification can be found here: Docket Letter for NMB Case A-13838 Norwegian Air Shuttle-OSM Aviation Group-NCCA
Last update: January 13, 2017:
WE REQUESTED MEDIATION FROM THE NATIONAL MEDIATION BOARD
As mentioned in the union newsletter sent in December, the Union accepted Management’s proposed meeting dates of January 18, 2017 and March 1, 2017. For the past month, your Union and Management have been in a “back and forth” argument with Management about their decision to cancel our upcoming meeting on January 18, 2017. Management’s reason for cancelling our January 18th meeting is they “discovered” that the Union’s representatives (Valentin, Katarzyna, and Ted) had conflicting work assignments over this date. OSM seems to be unaware that the we as crew members have no control over what our rosters look like every month. Nonetheless, the accepted practice in the airline industry is that when such conflicts arise, contact negotiations and other “union business” takes precedence and the work assignments are pulled without question. Your Union requested that OSM pull the assignments but OSM denied the request. It’s unclear whether OSM was using the “conflicts” as an excuse to cancel the meeting or if they lacked the authority to pull the assignments. Regardless of the reason, we don’t believe that OSM is putting forward their best effort to bargain an initial contract with the US-based cabin crew.
Your Union was left with no choice but to once again invoke the services of the National Mediation Board and request “Mediation” under Section 5 of the Railway Labor Act. For those of you who are unfamiliar, the National Mediation Board is the agency that declared Norwegian Air Shuttle, not just OSM, as the employer of the US-based cabin crew. While the NMB did rule in our favor, it wasn’t without a long and exhausting year-long legal battle which cost both Norwegian and OSM tens and thousands of dollars in attorney fees. Your Union made one last “appeal” to Norwegian on January 10th telling them that requesting the assistance of the National Mediation Board was “not our preferred” option as we wanted to maintain direct negotiations; however, Norwegian rebuffed our request to reaffirm the January 18th meeting date. Being that OSM and Norwegian both failed on their commitment to our very first meeting, the NCCA could not trust Management to follow through with future meetings and we had no choice but to reach out to the NMB once again. Your Union put together a list of questions you may have about mediation and we ask that you please read them below:
Q: What is Federal mediation?
Mediation is a way of facilitating progress in negotiations using the assistance of a third party. The mediator is an impartial third party who has specialized training designed to help the Union and Management reach an agreement. Mediation should not be confused with arbitration.
Q: How is mediation requested?
If, at any time during negotiations, either the Union or Management feels that negotiations aren’t progressing, they can request mediation from the National Mediation Board. In our case, the Union (the NCCA) requested mediation because Management (OSM Aviation) was not bargaining in good faith. The Union’s request for mediation can be found here: Mediation Request Letter. The Union’s application for mediation can be found here: Application for Mediation.
Q: Is Mediation binding?
No it is not. Mediation is different from arbitration in that neither the Federal Mediator nor the National Mediation Board (NMB) has the power to impose any terms or conditions on either the Union or Management or force both sides into an agreement.
Q: Since a mediator cannot force both sides to make an agreement, what is the purpose of requesting mediation in the first place?
A mediator has the authority to determine when the Union and Management will meet, for how long, and when the meetings will be recessed. In our case, this will be extremely useful because until now, Management has only offered two meetings in a 6-month period (January 18th and March 1st) and then decided to cancel the meeting on January 18th which left the Union with only one meeting day in a 6-month period. When the mediator sets the dates, Management will be required to attend all meetings and they cannot cancel them unless special circumstances exist. While we cannot speculate on the meeting schedule the mediator is going to set this early on, we are certain that there are going to be more than two negotiation days scheduled in the next six months.
Q: Are there any other benefits of a mediator facilitating negotiations between the Union and Management?
Yes. First, OSM has previously told the NCCA that they will not tell Norwegian to pull the union representatives (the Union President and Vice President) from any assignments which conflict with negotiations dates. This ultimately resulted in OSM cancelling the previously agreed to meeting date of January 18, 2017. When the mediator sets a meeting schedule, Norwegian will be required to pull the union representatives to attend negotiations. Second, the mediator can order any representative from Management to attend negotiations. In our case, Norwegian is attempting to have OSM negotiate all aspects of a collective bargaining agreement with our workgroup. As you already know, OSM has no control over our working conditions because they are controlled by Norwegian. If the mediator sees that OSM does not have the authority to make decisions on our working conditions, they will order Norwegian to send the individual(s) from NAS with adequate authority to the negotiating table.
Q: So now that the Union has requested mediation, what is exactly going to happen next?
As an administrative matter, the NMB will assign a docket number to the case and determine that it’s appropriate for assignment of one of about 20 staff mediators. If so, one of the mediators will be assigned to the work and, over the course of the next few weeks, will contact the Union and Management to begin meeting.
Q: How are mediators selected?
The NMB staff mediators are selected for their experience and knowledge in relations and dispute settlement. NMB mediators typically come from either union or company backgrounds and have extensive labor relations experience in either the airline industry. A variety of factors, including individual workloads, mediator availability, schedules, mediator background, and complexity of the case, are considered when the Board makes mediator assignments.
Q: What should I do now to support my Union and our negotiations?
The most important thing you can do is ask your US-based colleagues if they’re up-to-date on the latest communications from the Union including this one. If they’re not, chances are the Union does not have their personal email address and they should visit the union website www.cabinassociation.org and input their personal email address as soon as possible. Other than that, everything is business as usual: you do your job as you were hired to, be courteous to your passengers and fellow colleagues, and as always, be professional. Without a union contract, the only safety net we have right now is to show Management and the traveling public that we’re worth every penny we earn (and more). Lastly, wear your union pin!
Q: Should I be nervous about anything now that we’ve requested mediation?
Right now, there is no cause for concern as mediation simply establishes a process by which the Union and Management negotiate a collective bargaining agreement. The Union requesting mediation from the National Mediation Board in no way jeopardizes Norwegian’s ability to maintain (and grow) its’ US crew bases. Although some airline unions reach an agreement in direct negotiations (without a mediator) the majority of agreements between unions and companies in the airline industry come about after mediation is requested. Keep in mind that our application for mediation is public information and with all of the negative publicity surrounding Norwegian right now, some may use this information to come up with a news story using catchy terms like “airline strike.” While the main objective of a mediator is indeed to avert a strike, that’s not something that could realistically happen now or anytime soon because. Most importantly, your Union is committed to amicably reaching an agreement that benefits the Company as well as the Cabin Crew.
Q: How long will mediation last?
There is no set timeframe for NMB mediation. Some cases have lasted weeks, others years. The mediator and the Board have substantial discretion with regards to how long to continue their mediation efforts. Under the Railway Labor Act, the NMB ceases mediation efforts when it concludes that all reasonable efforts to reach a voluntary agreement through mediation have failed.
You can read more about mediation on the NMB website: www.nmb.gov/services/mediation
For a visual description of the bargaining process under the Railway Labor Act, you can view this chart:
Last update: December 5, 2016
Working Environment Committee and Job Share Program
The NCCA was pleased to hear the Company expand these programs to the US bases, but reminded the Company of their obligation to bargain (negotiate) these items with the NCCA. Please note, the NCCA does not want to prevent these programs from being implemented—they simply need to be negotiated with the Union beforehand. A copy of the notice the NCCA sent to the Company on November 2, 2016 is found here:
OSM Management sent a response on November 4, 2016 stating that the Company does not have to negotiate with the Union since there is no “status quo” and that the Norwegian Working Environment Act Requires that the Working Environment Committee be formed outside of the scope of collective bargaining. OSM’s November 4th letter can be found here:
The NCCA responded to OSM on November 8, 2016 reaffirming our position as the bargaining representative of the cabin crew and also stating that the Working Environment Committee, which OSM alleges is mandatory per the Working Environment Act of Norway, has no jurisdiction at the Company’s bases outside of Scandinavia. A copy of the NCCA’s November 8th letter is found here:
NORWEGIAN AIR INTERNATIONAL…WHAT DOES US D.O.T. APPROVAL MEAN FOR US?
NAI is a wholly owned subsidiary of Norwegian Air Shuttle (NAS) based in Dublin, Ireland. NAI was originally created with the Long Haul (B787) operation in mind as can be seen in Norwegian’s statements to the U.S. Department of Transportation submitted on December 31, 2013, February 14, 2014 and February 21, 2014. A copy of these documents can be found here:
Norwegian expected the US D.O.T. to issue a foreign air carrier permit for NAI straight away, but as we all know, this wasn’t the case. While waiting for final NAI approval from the US D.O.T., Norwegian decided to take advantage of its Irish Air Operator Certificate for NAI and transferred half of its short haul fleet and crew from NAS to NAI and on October 25, 2015, the first NAI flights took off. Norwegian did utilize one B787 for NAI, which flew exclusively between Scandinavia and Bangkok but later transferred the plane back to NAS because of operational inefficiencies.
Without a decision from the US D.O.T. Norwegian decided to put pressure on the US government by sending some stronger signals. In several communications to the US government and to the employees Norwegian implied, in certain terms, that US jobs were at stake. One of these communications was sent to President Obama on January 30, 2015 and was structured to be a letter from the US-based crew themselves urging the President to approve NAI. A copy of the letter can be found here: https://www.regulations.gov/contentStreamer?documentId=DOT-OST-2013-0204-0193&attachmentNumber=1&disposition=attachment&contentType=pdf
Norwegian didn’t stop with the letter to Obama. They also arranged a picketing event in Washington, D.C. in front of the US Department of transportation where they flew dozens of US-based crew members to the capital to hold signs and chant slogans in uniform: https://www.openourskies.com/norwegians-u-s-flight-attendants-rally-at-the-u-s-department-of-transportation/ The US D.O.T. was unmoved.
On June 1, 2015, a year-and-half after their NAI application was filed, Norwegian got desperate and made a promise to the US D.O.T. from CEO Bjorn Kjos himself. Mr. Kjos promised that if NAI was approved, they would “use only European and U.S. pilots and crews on Norwegian International transatlantic flights.” https://www.regulations.gov/contentStreamer?documentId=DOT-OST-2013-0204-0203&attachmentNumber=1&disposition=attachment&contentType=pdf Being that Norwegian currently employs 200 Bangkok based cabin crew in the Long Haul Operation, it can be argued that by this time, Norwegian would only transfer the Short Haul Operation to NAI and had other plans for the Long Haul Operation.
Finally, on November 30th 2016, the foreign air carrier permit for NAI was approved. Norwegian could now fly its short haul B737 fleet to fly from secondary (lesser populated) airports in the northwestern part of Europe to secondary airports in the northeastern part of the US and benefit from NAI’s cheaper operating costs. With its Irish Company NAI, Norwegian can still be profitable offering $69 fares from the U.S. to Europe on a B737. They could not do this with NAS, a Norwegian company with higher aircraft registration fees and stricter labor standards.
So finally, the Long Haul Operation which we currently work for, does not depend on, nor benefit from NAI approval. It may be possible that down the road, Norwegian could transfer the Long Haul Operation to NAI but for the time being, we’re going to remain NAS. When the foreign air carrier permit for NUK is approved, it is expected that the Long Haul Operation will be transferred to NUK, a British Company.
Last update: November 3, 2016:
Initiating Collective Bargaining (Contract Negotiations) with the Company
As stated in “What’s Next,” we sent the Company our “Section 6” notice on September 28, 2016. They had 10 days to respond with a legal deadline of October 8, 2016. The NCCA did not receive a response so we sent the Company a reminder on October 10, 2016. The Company finally responded on October 12, 2016. A copy of the Company’s letter is found here:
The above letter, sent by Norwegian’s Chief Human Resources Officer, stated that OSM is has been designated as the Company’s authorized bargaining representative and the NCCA should contact them to initiate collective bargaining. While the NCCA does not mind bargaining with OSM, OSM has not demonstrated any authority to negotiate changes to the working environment because Norwegian maintains control of all operational issues. The NCCA responded that we will respect Norwegian’s decision to designate OSM as the designated bargaining representative with the expectation that OSM has adequate authority to bargain ALL terms and conditions of employment. A copy of the NCCA’s October 18th response to the Company can be found here: