Defining Moments

As we send the December issue of Air Line Pilot to press, we are days away from a defining moment in ALPA’s Deny NAI campaign. Close to 100 ALPA pilots are expected to storm the halls of Capitol Hill advocating for further bipartisan congressional support to convince the Department of Transportation to deny Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) application to fly to and from the United States.

You’ve heard me talk about it before—just how detrimental the approval of this airline flag-of-convenience business scheme would be for the future of fair competition. The response to Deny NAI has been overwhelming and inspiring. It will be a day of action; it will be a day of progress.

It is a defining moment for my tenure as president of the Air Line Pilots Association, International as was the day I was elected four years ago. As a huge proponent of continuous professional and personal growth, I really had no idea how much I would learn from Day 1 and how much I am continuing to learn into my final weeks in office.

Whether maneuvering through the governmental matrix of both Capitol and Parliament Hills or truly understanding the unique challenges of individual pilot groups, including the intricacies of each contract or the rough terrain and conditions in which some of our pilots fly, every time I met with a pilot group or an individual line pilot I had a new sense of awareness about the profession I love. And I have been and will forever remain all in when it comes to safeguarding our profession.

Many people—ALPA members and industry representatives—have asked me what I believe ALPA’s biggest accomplishments have been. Legislative and advocacy success? Huge strides in safety? Lowered dues rate? A number of progressive contract ratifications for many of our pilot groups? A successful organizing drive? Branding ALPA as pilot partisan in Washington, D.C.? Seeing great support from both political parties? A staff restructuring to promote efficiency and increase effectiveness? Yes, as a team we’ve been able to accomplish those significant accomplishments and more.

We’ve had many defining moments—the implementation and nationwide expansion of Known Crewmember; the 2012 FAA reauthorization and the IRA rollover provision; the merger of United and Continental pilots; establishing the remote ops committee; Federal Flight Deck Officer funding; U.S. Ex-Im Bank reforms; raising awareness on state-owned enterprises and the need to level the playing field; defining the narrative on the pilot pay shortage; making real progress on the temporary worker program in Canada; launching the successful Save Our Skies public awareness campaign; welcoming JetBlue pilots into ALPA; and the successful—but not yet finished—Deny NAI campaign. The list is long, the list is proud, and the list is far from done.

But my biggest accomplishment? Without a team surrounding me, supporting me, advising me, there would be no accomplishments. The relationships I’ve built with die-hard, dedicated ALPA volunteers and the Association’s expert professional staff are what I would note as my biggest accomplishment.

This job, my passion, has allowed me the opportunity to work with some amazing individuals from whom I have learned more than I knew I could absorb. And together, we modified our way of thinking—developing relationships with other industry stakeholders, other labor organizations, and decision-makers—to build consensus and rise above the noise in Washington, D.C. We realized that the 5 percent we disagree on wasn’t worth negating the 95 percent we all agree on. It’s that humility, that cooperation that allows us to make progress.

So let’s talk about the next four years. You don’t need a fortuneteller to tell you that our profession will face many of the same challenges and, unfortunately, new and even greater challenges. But the opportunity also exists for even greater success. And as the advocates for the pilots of today and tomorrow, we can never give up. We can never let up. The moment we lessen our stride or stray from the strategic path, we lose the ground that we’ve fought so hard to gain. Don’t be the weakest link. Don’t let grudges and politics get in the way of reason and progress.

On Jan. 1, 2015, you will start the year with newly elected ALPA leaders. They chose not to be silent. Please give them your support. Your support will lead to their success. Their success will bring measurable improvements to our profession.

Capt. Tim Canoll, elected as ALPA’s 10th president, has pledged to serve with reason, judiciousness, and dignity to further the mission of this union. I know that he is a man of his word. And with your support and cooperation, I know he will be successful and do what every visionary intends: to leave a place better than it was found. I am confident in his abilities and the ability of what 51,000 pilots all moving in the same direction can accomplish.

It’s been an honor, a privilege, and a pleasure to serve as president of the Air Line Pilots Association, International.

December 2014, Air Line Pilot

President’s Corner