The OBSM program has been at the forefront of the union’s agenda for several years now. Up until recently, the focus of this program has been mainline Service Directors, and several of the issues resulting from their assessments were recently resolved by Arbitrator Kaplan. Recent months have seen the next phase of the OBSM program being rolled out, which involve assessments of mainline Flight Attendants (OBSM CC Program), as well as the birth of the Rouge Crew Mentor initiative. We have been observing the OBSM CC and Rouge Crew Mentor programs. We felt the way the company would approach and address our members would be professional, consistent, and with good intentions.
The Company has consistently reiterated to the Union the need for the OBSM program, the fact that they will “coach before disciplining“, and that to date no one has been disciplined. That has all changed. On Friday, July 5, 2019, we unfortunately saw our first forms of discipline being handed out to our Flight Attendant colleagues at mainline for receiving an NI for grooming and/or other related issues during their OBSM CC assessment.
What the Company considers coaching is the letter they send cabin crew which contains the 6 touch points they will be assessing prior to your assessment. On the discipline issued to our members we continue to see “… you were provided a letter setting out our expectations in anticipation of your onboard assessment. It also included the 6 touch points you would be assessed on and their weightings.” The Union is opposed to this method of “coaching” the company has implemented for the OBSM CC. If it was good enough for our SD’s to have an individual “coaching flight”, why have our FA’s not been afforded the same?
The OBSM CC assessments started in February 2019 and performance meetings started in late May 2019. By the end of June 2019, we saw multiple members being called in for meetings across the system. Notably, and most concerning, is the fact that members have failed on uniform standards. If the intention of the program really was to coach, why would our members start failing six months in? There were no NI’s prior to late May 2019.
With the OBSM CC program, we believed that evaluations would take place, members would be coached, and issues would be addressed. Unfortunately, we are now seeing that our members are being observed during flight, given a letter stating an NI was achieved, called in for a disciplinary meeting, and disciplined along with a coaching plan. How does this help our members feel like they are being set up for success?
Your Union is addressing these issues and reviewing each form of discipline as it comes in.
According to the company, the Rouge Crew Mentor program is intended to coach employees on the overall performance of their duties including service delivery, safety and grooming, and not in a punitive or disciplinary manner. We believe that good coaching happens on the spot, is done to correct or enforce the common goal, and is not punitive. What we have seen from the Rouge Crew Mentor program is that issues are being identified and corrected in real time, rather than waiting and issuing discipline later. We have been assured that reporting on specific infractions with names attached has not been a component of the Rouge Crew Mentor program, and we hope that this continues to be the case.
We have been hearing feedback from our Rouge members and we fully acknowledge that the roll-out of this program has not been without its challenges. We have found Rouge management to be willing to listen and evolve the program as needed, and we rely on our members to keep us informed about the way the Rouge Crew Mentor program is functioning on board.
We will be watching these situations closely at both mainline and Rouge.
As always, the Union relies on your feedback at both Mainline and Rouge in order to monitor these programs as well as raise the issues you are presented with.
President, Air Canada Component of CUPE