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Chairman's Message - 10/25/16
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Chairman's Message - 10/25/16

 

Chairman's Report
October 25, 2016

Engagement priorities: We have established a method of agenda prosecution that entails a methodical approach which is as follows. With most issues, the quickest, most effective outcome would be possible by engaging FedEx successfully. They have it within their power to accomplish most requested adjustments should they desire. As we know, this sometimes does not yield the desired outcome. In many cases, we find it necessary to pursue our agenda by approaching the many regulatory agencies, to include DOT, PHMSA, FAA, NTSB, TSA, and ICAO. Currently, we also engage with trade associations such as IATA.

To facilitate those encounters, it is necessary that we maintain good relations with ALPA national resources and personnel; to that end we have established a very collaborative relationship with our ALPA national brethren. We believe this approach will yield the best return on our dues dollar investment. With that in mind, we are utilizing ALPA resources in pursuit of our Legislative agenda to a great extent. It is also worth noting that we now have five of your fellow FedEx ALPA pilots serving on the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) G27 Committee developing packaging standards for the safe shipment of lithium batteries. One more interesting development is our decision to engage directly with the Independent Pilots Association (IPA) at UPS. That relationship is currently on firm footing with our common pursuit of lithium battery regulation and science-based fatigue regulations. They have embarked on a lithium battery strategy that is based on getting the global independent safety science company Underwriters Laboratory to take on lithium battery production. If that effort is successful, then retailers in this country would be encouraged to only sell UL-approved batteries, and the result would be a serious curtailment of the proliferation of counterfeits and poorly manufactured batteries. We are supporting their effort however we can.

Quality of life: There is clearly a great deal of flux in our line and pairing construction. The evolving system form, with seven competing bid packs competing for our domestic flying, has created an environment ripe for optimization of productivity. This takes many forms, but sometimes results in multi-leg pairings, with short layovers and less-than-desirable airport hotels. In order to effectively address these challenges, we need your help. If you encounter pairings that you believe to be less than optimal, please let us know by filing a PSIT PIREP report.

In addition, be sure and file an INSITE report, an ASAP report if safety is a consideration, as well as a Fatigue Report if appropriate. If you want to ensure we are aware of these reports, please copy us with your admission.

Animal handlers: We have met multiple times with several officials at TSA up to a brief encounter with TSA Administrator Admiral Neffenger. We have also met with the FAA up to AFS 1 John Duncan. So far these meetings have offered little encouragement that our attempts to restrict these operations to IRCD-equipped aircraft will be considered in a regulatory sense. Recently we received communication from FedEx that they have made enhancements to these operations that were discussed with us last fall. These include background checks, photo IDs, proper storage methods for syringes and drugs, and better crew-notification methods. While these fall short of a commitment to operate with “IRCD equipped” aircraft, these enhancements are an improvement over prior methods. We will continue to address this safety and security issue at appropriate opportunities. As PIC you are the final authority on whether you believe the operation to be feasible in a safe and secure manner.

TNT: We are awaiting a detailed briefing from management on their plans to integrate TNT over the next three to five years. As you may know, the TNT B-777 and B-757 aircraft are being transferred to FedEx, and their B-737 aircraft will be operated by ASL. This will no doubt require vigilance to ensure our scope provisions are honored. The good news is that we are assured there will ultimately be significant expansion in our CGN base.

Wet-Lease: FedEx has now agreed to a five-year wet-lease arrangement with Atlas to cover future peak period operations. Notwithstanding the 5-year agreement, FedEx already has a history of using Atlas during peak. The duration of five years is to ensure access to lift going forward as Amazon is aggressively pursuing lift for their own future expansion.

ESC: We recently received a briefing detailing management’s response to our ESC concerns. We learned that the Company will conduct air duct cleaning during periodic aircraft servicing. They also told us that all B-777, B-767, and all but three MD11 aircraft are equipped with Ozone Converters. They state that on average the O2 masks are serviced at 1.7-year intervals. We suggested they provide O2 mask replaceable sanitary liners, and replaceable microphone wind sleeves. They asked us to provide vendor information, which we provided. They also reported that Fume Event training is currently being done with initial and upgrade training, though we have yet to review that training. Management will consider putting it into continuing qualification training. We asked that we meet again to consider disinsection, water servicing, lavatory sanitation, coffee sanitation, etc. We are also interested in establishing an ongoing role in the assurance of these efforts.

Lithium batteries: I recently added my name to a FedEx message outlining new plans for carriage of lithium batteries. In taking the announced steps, FedEx is firmly established as the global leader in attempting to mitigate the risks of carrying lithium batteries by air. Their efforts are deeply appreciated, and we are hopeful that government regulators will take their lead from these actions and incorporate these policies into regulation so that our fellow cargo pilots will be afforded the same protections. This will have the practical effect of sweeping all uninstalled lithium battery shipments into ICAO section 1, where they will be handled as dangerous goods. These steps are important, but there is more to be done. Safe packaging is essential, and appropriate standards have yet to be established. We are encouraged that FedEx management is taking stronger steps than the minimum required by regulation, and we are pleased to know that FedEx is actively working to develop technologies to help mitigate this risk. That being said, we are actively pursuing a legislative agenda to seek criminal penalties for those who knowingly ship lithium batteries illegally.

Training: We are told by FedEx management that the 767 simulators, S1 and S2 are making slow but steady progress. While we hope this is the case, we will continue to watch this situation closely. These devices are critical to FedEx operations and expansion, so we want them to work. That being said, we are very concerned with this less-than-optimal situation. We continue to voice our concerns with the lack of proper standardization and utilization of professional instructors. We believe a robust standards effort is called for.

Contract enforcement: Management continues to pursue their incremental grabs at productivity through administrative actions that result in grievances. We have no reason to believe this will let up. This is just a fact of life in our cost-driven corporate world. They clearly do not place enough value on goodwill.

CAT: DJ Shaw, working with Anita Shew and Eric Meewes, has established the initial effort to stand up the Contract Answer Team (CAT). They anticipate volunteer training to begin in November. We are actively seeking volunteers to staff this effort, so if you can see your way to support it, please contact DJ.Shaw@alpa.org.

P2P: Davy Jones, DJ Shaw, and Mark Rackley are in the process of reinvigorating our P2P effort. I encourage you to volunteer for this effort as well.

Grievance: We have several important grievances working their way through the system presently. As settlements or arbitration rulings become available, we will provide details. You should know that there is no change to FedEx unauthorized weapons policy, and we continue to have pilots caught with unauthorized items at screening facilities.

Negotiations: Your Negotiating Committee has been hard at work, and they are engaged in several efforts. You can expect communication very soon to present several settlement agreements that are being finalized as this is written.

Safety: We now have our Flight Ops Safety Office, as well as access to the ASIASS database, thanks to the cooperation of FedEx Flight Safety leadership. Bobbi Wells, FedEx VP–Flight Safety, is working with us to institutionalize quarterly safety meetings with management’s safety team beginning in November. We believe this commitment will make our collective safety effort much more effective.

Retirement: Our actuarial costing model is for the most part complete, and Segal continues working with Mercer and FedEx management to fine-tune the details. As we get deeper into this effort it has become increasingly clear that we need to consider hiring a consulting firm that specializes in retirement plan design to assist this effort. To that end, we have approached  David Blitzstein Consulting to work alongside the actuaries of the Segal Group. We recently concluded baseline polling on retirement, and are using this data to determine what particulars of retirement plan design need to be further explained. We plan to ratchet up crew room meetings and communications to further discuss retirement plan considerations going forward.

To be absolutely clear, there is no bargaining on retirement taking place, nor will there be without your inclusion. This is a methodical, rational approach to allow us each to thoroughly consider our options once those options have been identified and explained.

While this is not an entire list of ongoing efforts, it does cover our major initiatives. I look forward to your questions at our upcoming meeting.

Regards,


Captain Chuck Dyer
FedEx MEC Chairman

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