FedEx Express MD-10 on the ramp at Minneapolis&ndash:St. Paul International Airport.
With the FedEx Express pilots ratifying a new six-year agreement in October 2015, 2016 began with a flurry of activity as the FedEx Master Executive Council (MEC) worked through implementation and enforcement of the new agreement. “With the implementation of any new agreement, especially one that is heavily laden with work-rule changes, there are challenges along the way,” said Capt. Chuck Dyer, the pilot group’s MEC chairman. “Our dedicated volunteers and ALPA staff have been working steadily throughout the various implementation phases to ensure that the new agreement is enforced.” To boost this effort, the MEC hired an additional contract enforcement specialist to support the pilot group.
In addition to focusing on contract implementation and enforcement, the MEC was also busy with other issues affecting the pilots, including the air transport of lithium batteries, environmental conditions in the workplace, and inflight and operational security concerns.
Early in 2016, the MEC called on the pilots to participate in ALPA’s Call to Action regarding lithium batteries as Congress considered amendments to the FAA reauthorization bill. “As regulations currently stand, many lithium batteries are exempted from some of the most important dangerous goods safety procedures that apply to other dangerous goods,” Dyer explained. “With that being said, we are very pleased that FedEx Express management has elected to no longer accept Section 2 lithium battery shipments, relegating lithium battery shipments exclusively to those contained in equipment to Section 1. This decision affords the additional safety of hazardous material designation and the attendant handling procedures.” While a temporary ban has been placed on the shipment of lithium batteries as cargo on passenger airplanes, there has yet to be a similar ban established for all-cargo airplanes. “We’ll continue our efforts to advocate for improved transport requirements for bulk shipments of lithium batteries on all-cargo operations,” said Dyer.
The Environmental Standards Committee, established by the MEC to focus on acceptable hygiene, health, and environmental safety standards in the workplace, ramped up its work in 2016. “The committee’s specific mission is to research, report on, and positively impact cleanliness, sanitation, and health- and safety-related threats and issues that exist in our work environment,” said Capt. Bob Avery, the committee’s chairman. “Through this committee, the MEC has been given the opportunity to present current health-related issues to management in an effort to find solutions and resolve these issues.” As a result, FedEx management is currently changing a number of policies and operations to address the pilots’ many environmental concerns.
While each new year presents its own challenges, the MEC sees each year as an opportunity to further its mission. “As we move into 2017, we’ll continue to engage management on a number of issues and seek the support of our pilots as we further the pursuit of one level of safety both inflight and around our areas of operation,” noted Dyer. “We look forward to building on our past successes to enhance the profession we love.”
The 4,391 FedEx Express pilots are spread across the globe, with eight councils located in four domiciles as well as pilots assigned to foreign duty in Hong Kong and Cologne, Germany. Understanding the communications challenges that this global group faces, the MEC continues to engage its members through a variety of communication methods designed to better reach pilots, including its MEC website, interactive conference and video calls, video messages, e-mails, and text messaging.
With more than 375 airports served worldwide, the airline has an extensive and varied fleet. The pilots deliver approximately 3.9 million packages and 11 million pounds of freight daily to more than 220 countries and territories, including every address in the United States.