Wednesday, December 4, 2013

MY SEASON OF GRATITUDE: November 25, 2013

Of the 80,000 or so employees at my airline-employer, approximately 25,000 are Flight Attendants, including me. While the mega-merger that created this airline behemoth is "all over but the shoutin' " in the eyes of the public, my workgroup is fractured. The Flight Attendants of the three legacy carriers that form our "new" airline are working under the three separate contracts that each group brought to this venture: three VERY different contracts epitomizing three VERY different approaches to the same job. As a result, the complexity of the newly merged company's operations is unnecessarily exacerbated.

In an effort to balance the "supply" of flying with the "demand" of our customers, a variety of solutions has been employed and a general scramble to get the right people and aircraft into position has ensued. One attempted remedy was to offer the opportunity to "crossover" from a legacy workgroup that was overstaffed and shrinking to a legacy workgroup that was understaffed and growing. What started as a solution to a logistics problem has become a cross-cultural phenomenon.

While among the three stratified legacy Flight Attendant popluations there is a general air of "us v. them" and "ours is better than theirs", the 100+ individuals who have participated in the crossover are the ONLY ones who have any meaningful cross-cultural, cross-contract experience. These brave souls risked much and took a leap of faith to test the waters of the "other" side. In spite of the number of years they had previously accrued, they went to the bottom of the seniority list when they arrived (with an assurance that they would return to their fully-vested, integrated position once we are fully-merged). They agreed to work under a contract and work rules that were totally alien to them "without a net". They endured some pretty withering criticism from their legacy peers who, themselves, were too fearful to find their own answers by venturing out thusly. And, to a person, they have earned my utmost respect and admiration.

They are truly ambassadors to our communal future! I fear that we do not accord them the credit and respect that they deserve for being pioneers. But I guess that's the way pioneerism works, huh? If it were easy, if it were a slam-dunk, EVERYBODY would do it!

It's not easy to forge new paths. 100+ of my peers have chosen to do just that and I am so grateful to them for their contributions to our new reality. Perhaps eventually, our group's leadership will find a way to put aside their own agendas, follow the lead of these enlightened trailblazers and we will harmoniously be united.


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