Q. Does this settlement restore my 100% plan from last year?
A. No, the 100% plan from last year was and has historically been a “Build Your Own” plan and is specifically excluded from LOA 18 – there was no sustainable argument on that matter. The contractual violation actually involved the missing 95% plan and the lack of contractually required notice.
Q. Why didn’t we get more?
A. There was no more to get, the award provides 100% monetary compensation for the changes made in violation of our contract. Our Flight Attendants have been made 100% whole. $4.5 Million is the full value of the violation.
Q. What does the settlement cover and why doesn’t everyone get the money?
A. The violation of our contract was specific, when the Company made changes to the “Build Your Own” plans, the remaining “top tier” plan should have been the 95% coverage with an annual out-of-pocket maximum of $1,000 (then reverts to 100% coverage) – in reality, the maximum plan offered was 90% with a $1,500 annual out-of-pocket maximum (then reverts to 100% coverage). This resulted in an annual $500 out-of-pocket increase in the plans. The settlement provides the money to the affected individuals (those who selected to maximum coverage plan) upfront – allowing them to use the money as they see fit, whether for copays, offsets, or annual out-of-pocket costs. All of the other plans and HMO’s provided are in compliance with the contract.
Q. Why didn’t we require the plan to be changed?
A. It was an option, but it would have created serious logistical issues. We believe our Flight Attendants can make better use of the cash upfront instead of a modification to the plan after enrollment. Now they can use the cash in-hand to offset any costs instead of just their annual out-of-pocket maximums and monthly premium adjustments.
Q. What happens for 2015?
A. The settlement requires that both the Union and the Company meet no later than September 1, 2014 to review and discuss the plans for 2015 and their compliance with the contract.
Q. Why didn’t we take it to arbitration, couldn’t we have gotten more?
A. Arbitration can take months or years, it was in the best interest of our Flight Attendants to get them the money they will need now. What will result from arbitration is usually an unknown and usually you will not get more than 100% of the value of the violation – we got 100% of the value now for our Flight Attendants to use when they need it.
Q. Were the other plans offered in compliance with our contract?
A. Yes, the other plans, including the HMO’s (Kaiser etc.) and the Smart Choice plans are in compliance with the provisions of our contract.
Q. Why didn’t we “fight” more and make more “vocal” demands?
A. We didn’t need to – we sat down as professionals, presented our well documented case, and came to a settlement which puts the entire value of the contractual violation in our Flight Attendants pockets – in cash – upfront.
MEC President Marcus Valentino