ALPA’s 106th Executive Board Meeting

ALPA Executive Board Assesses Progress, Prepares for Fall BOD

ALPA’s pilot leaders gathered for the first of the two-day 106th regular meeting of the Association’s Executive Board. During the opening plenary session, senior leadership reported on the challenges facing the Association and the progress ALPA pilots are making to advance their profession.

“Hurry up and wait” was the theme of ALPA President John Prater’s report [read the text | watch the video]. He recounted the forward-moving steps the Union has experienced in the last 18 months. However, we’re still waiting for closure on many issues, Prater said.

“Just over a year ago, I spoke to you about the difference a government could make when it was not afraid to say the word ‘union.’ In the first 100 days, the administration confirmed nominees to the National Mediation Board. They confirmed a former ALPA leader as the FAA administrator, and a new effort to revise 50-year-old flight-time/duty-time regulations soon began,” Prater said.

Prater talked about the gains made with the new Hawaiian pilot contract negotiated earlier this year and its influence on negotiations for pilot groups at carriers like Spirit, Jazz, Trans States, Continental, United, and others.

Prater also briefed the Executive Board on the status of the Association’s ongoing legislative and regulatory efforts to improve pilot working conditions. “The fatigue issue for our pilots is too important to be sidetracked by claims of economic woes,” he said. “Since some parties of the fatigue Aviation Rulemaking Committee have conveniently changed their tune, ALPA suggested to the decision makers on Capitol Hill that the FAA bill should include a hard 12-hour cap on duty day and eight hours flight time if a final rule isn’t published by January 1 of next year.”

The ALPA president also talked about organizing campaigns, efforts to thwart proposed legislation to install cockpit video cameras, the ALPA National Security Committee’s white paper on trust-based security systems, and recent progress with CrewPASS. “I fully expect one ALPA airline to confirm the implementation of CrewPASS very soon.

“As ALPA leaders, these are just a few of the initiatives you and our Board of Directors set to build a better tomorrow for our pilots. And as our Board prepares to meet this fall to update our strategic plan, it’s time to proudly lead our pilots through this industry-changing era,” said Prater.

Broadening our perspective

ALPA first vice-president Capt. Paul Rice’s presentation detailed the many air transport services negotiations with other countries and the ramifications of these decisions. “The United States has recently reached an Open Skies accord with the European Union, India, and Japan, among others, bringing the total number of countries with Open Skies agreements to nearly 100,” he noted. “Along the same topic in Canada, Transport Minister John Baird has signed a new air transport agreement negotiated with the EU in December 2009.” Rice emphasized that active engagement in these talks and careful scrutiny of all proposed changes are paramount to protecting foreign ownership and control rules as well as current cabotage limits.

Throughout his report, Rice repeated the phrase, “The world’s pilots must work together [read the text | watch the video].

“One of the challenges in working together is our endlessly evolving industry. In many countries, the once-standard business model of a large, state-supported national carrier is disappearing, and with it a single pilot group with its inherent unity of purpose and ease of communication. In other countries, it’s illegal for pilots to form a union or even to congregate as professionals. Amidst these formidable challenges, we are finding new opportunities to cultivate a global pilot community,” he said.

Rice talked about ALPA’s newly formed Railway Labor Act Study Group to assess the efficiency and relevance of the rules governing U.S. aviation labor negotiations. He also discussed his service as deputy president of the International Federation of Air Line Pilots Associations (IFALPA). “I am leaving the deputy president post at IFALPA in very capable hands. I have full confidence in the gravitas and guidance that Capt. Don Wykoff will bring to the position,” he said.

Increasing ALPA numbers, improving ALPA service

“With the addition of two new pilot groups to our ranks over the past six months, our Association continues to affirm ALPA’s Unity Resolution, adopted at the 2000 Board of Directors Meeting to reach ALPA’s goal of representing all airline pilots in the U.S. and Canada,” ALPA vice-president—Administration Capt. Bill Couette told Executive Board members [read the text | watch the video].

“While ATI and North American added new members to our union, the bump in membership they brought was tempered by the loss of our Midwest pilots,” said Couette. “These are true trade unionists who believe in our union and our brothers and sisters at AirTran signed an exclusive agreement with their management to hire these pilots. I am happy to report that 11 just started training.”

Couette talked about several of the agenda items for the meeting, including a report from the Career Security Protocol Committee, and enhancements to the services provided to ALPA members. “Improving relations with our members by getting them the information they need, in a form they can use, and in a timely manner, is the most basic principle of good union business.”

“Our members expect results when seeking assistance from their union,” he said. “Whether they need Aeromedical advice, assistance with a safety issue, or something as simple as answering a question, one of the most important things we can do as a union is to fully understand and effectively respond to our members’ needs and concerns.”

Securing our future

“Just as our nation is starting to see light at the end of the tunnel of economic recession, so too are we starting to see patches of clear skies ahead,” said ALPA vice-president—finance Capt. Randy Helling, in his presentation to the Executive Board [read the text | watch the video]. “As your vice-president of finance, I am pleased to report that we are making significant progress in two key areas of our strategic plan—advancing ALPA’s leadership role as the voice for airline pilots in the aviation safety and security arenas, and exercising fiscal discipline to maintain our Association’s financial viability.”

Helling provided an overview of the Association’s finances. “Your collective efforts have helped us continue to provide world-class services while operating on much leaner budgets in other ways as well. I speak for all the national officers when I thank you all for your efforts. When I called on you to live within your means, you answered that call. You and your pilot groups, along with the national officers, our national committees, and all ALPA departments, have made hard decisions, cut costs, and lived within your budgets,” he said.

Speaking about the Icelandic volcano eruption, the vice-president of finance said, “As operations gradually resumed, ALPA kept our members informed and urged them to remember that captain’s authority is paramount and our common goal is to ensure that acceptable safety margins are maintained.

“We will take this message to Congress tomorrow when ALPA Executive Air Safety Vice Chair Linda Orlady (UAL) is scheduled to testify on pilot concerns regarding volcanic activity,” he said. “Her presentation will be the latest step in ALPA’s long history of urging greater understanding of the hazards that volcanic activity poses to pilots, passengers, and aircraft.”

Helling also talked at length about the Association’s top security priorities: CrewPASS, the Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) program, secondary barriers, and promoting “one level of security for cargo operations.”

Other news

In addition to national officer reports, Helling, ALPA General Manager Jalmer Johnson, and ALPA Legal Director Jonathan Cohen provided an update on the settlement of the Mansfield lawsuit, a risk-management report, and a briefing on the status of the renewal of ALPA’s insurance program.

Prater recessed the Executive Board to allow the four assigned committees to conduct business of the union and further the Association’s strategic plan.