Patience as Proven Strategy

It can be all too easy to lose sight of the fact that patience is decisive strategic action. Consider the energy we invest in reacting to things—especially at a time when technology not only invites but often compels us to immediately voice or vent. It’s tempting to rush to act. But many, including Harvard Magazine, suggest that while once a term associated with forbearance, “patience” has today become just the opposite. Patience is power.

At ALPA, we have reaped the results of aggressively exercising patience—it’s among the strategies that will truly make our union stronger moving forward. In fact, we recently witnessed the immense power of patience in ALPA’s work to make certain that U.S. airlines can count on a level playing field when doing business internationally. Our union served both as architect and agent of a meticulous legal, government affairs, safety, and public relations strategy to shed light on the existential threat that Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) flag-of-convenience business plan poses to the U.S. airline industry and its workers.

While the job is not done, the Department of Transportation’s decision to dismiss NAI’s temporary foreign air carrier authorization is a major step toward safeguarding our industry’s ability to compete around the globe. This is a win, but it’s not yet a victory, so we see the product of patience.

When it comes to making certain the U.S. Export-Import Bank’s financing decisions help all U.S. workers compete globally, ALPA continues its aggressive drumbeat for reform. The continuing resolution passed by Congress and signed by the president includes extending operations for the U.S. Export-Import Bank through June 2015. These next months provide time and opportunity to develop targeted, meaningful reform. In terms of the bank’s financing of widebody aircraft that state-owned, state-supported, and creditworthy foreign airlines use to compete unfairly against U.S. airlines, reform cannot come quickly enough.

ALPA is equally steadfast in our commitment to exposing the bogus “pilot shortage” for what it actually is—a pilot pay shortage. Our union has dramatically changed the narrative in Washington, D.C., and across the country by aggressively communicating the facts. We recently released a new no-frills, real-numbers video that virtually turned heads and went viral with more than 100,000 views. This enormous response is one illustration of the futility of attempts by some airline managements to use a fabricated shortage as an excuse to cut service and, worse, to call for rolling back the pilot qualification safety regulations they themselves helped develop.

Patience also pays off in cultivating the relationships our union has forged with regulators and lawmakers in Washington, D.C., and Ottawa. One example is the U.S. Executive Branch and Department of Homeland Security’s acknowledgement of a security threat highlighted by our union and the resulting decision to uphold the current ban on allowing Libyan nationals to come to the United States for flight training. Thanks in part to ALPA’s outreach on the Hill, the U.S. House also weighed in with strong support for maintaining the 30-year-old prohibition. This message and momentum was instrumental in our fight to keep in place the current policy.

In this example and so many others, ALPA-PAC is integral to our success on Capitol Hill. A few weeks ago, the ExpressJet Master Executive Council (MEC ) joined Alaska, Compass, Delta, Hawaiian, Mesa, and United in reaching 100 percent PAC participation among their elected pilot leaders. We challenge all ALPA MECs to achieve full PAC participation. Similarly, ALPA again exhibited our determination to press for all airline pilots to be equally protected from fatigue during the NTSB’s sunshine meeting regarding the UPS Flight 1354 accident. We join the UPS pilots in feeling the sting of the tragic loss of the two pilots involved and are resolved to do everything possible to prevent a similar accident from happening again. 

Our union also achieved a positive gain in combatting pilot fatigue in Canada, where Transport Canada took policy action to put a clear priority on modernizing pilot flight- and duty-time rules, which are long overdue for ALPA’s Canadian members. One of many ALPA initiatives that typify the constancy of support that the union provides its members is the Human Intervention Motivation Study (HIMS ) program. In early September, ALPA held its annual three-day HIMS Basic Education Seminar, which attracted more than 300 airline, medical, and regulatory professional and volunteer attendees.

And at our biennial Board of Directors meeting, which will take place in October, ALPA’s highest governing body will examine our union’s current strategic plan (see page 21) and establish the priorities that will direct ALPA’s course over the next two years.

Aggressive patience will continue to play its proven role as our union becomes stronger moving forward.

October 2014, Air Line Pilot

President’s Corner