A FedEx Express MD-11 on the ramp at New Zealand’s Auckland Airport during sunset.
Last year provided FedEx Express pilots with both opportunities and challenges as the pilots’ Master Executive Council (MEC) continued to build on work established from the previous year. The year began with a continuation of bargaining to achieve an improvement in the pilots’ retirement plan outside of normal Section 6 negotiations. The MEC hoped that management would recognize the pilots’ contributions while assisting the corporate bottom line. However, after several months, the MEC was advised by management that it was unable to further evaluate the proposed Pilots’ Stabilized Pension Plan, citing current economic conditions. Notwithstanding management’s decision, the MEC reinforced its message that retirement is a cornerstone of the contract and is an issue that’s not going away.
Continuing with the quality-of-life initiative implemented in 2018, the MEC launched a new online tool aimed at advancing interaction between the pilots and their union. The Pilot Data Report was introduced in early 2019 as a web-based system accessible from a desktop, smartphone, or tablet with the ability to send a report to the appropriate committee or resource within the union for action. This tool allows the MEC to track problem areas and trends that are occurring so that those issues can be addressed with management while having supporting documentation from the pilots.
Last year also brought a change in the MEC’s leadership. Capt. Pete Harmon and F/O Don Loepke were elected MEC chair and MEC secretary treasurer, respectively. Capt. Dave Chase was elected vice chair after previously serving more than seven months as interim vice chair. The new leadership team is committed to continuing the work of serving the needs of the pilots. With a new emphasis on growing communications channels, the MEC’s podcast series, Fly By Night, was launched. The goal of the podcast is to provide the pilots with useful information in a mobile, convenient platform—the podcasts can be downloaded and accessed any time. To date, the podcast series has had more than 15,000 listens.
With the recent updating of ALPA’s mobile app, the MEC again recognized an opportunity to grow its communications channels by offering push notifications to FedEx pilots based internationally. While text notifications are nothing new to the pilot group, the ability for internationally based pilots to receive immediate push notifications, similar to receiving a text, wasn’t previously available. Through the combined work of staff at ALPA national and on the MEC level, FedEx pilots based internationally are now able to receive push notifications. This is particularly important when any type of safety or security issue needs to be communicated expeditiously.
Since the signing of the 2015 collective bargaining agreement, roughly 33 percent of the pilots at FedEx are new to the property. Understanding the value of learning from the union’s past successes and challenges, the MEC introduced a new interactive FedEx pilot history timeline in 2019.
As the MEC leaders close the chapter on this decade, they look forward to the opportunities awaiting in 2020. “We’ll continue our work of doing what’s in the best interest of our pilots,” said Harmon. “As we move another year closer to Contract 2021 and consider complex issues, our pilots’ safety, well-being, job security, and quality of life will always be the foremost consideration in our minds.”
The 5,028 FedEx Express pilots are spread across the globe, with eight councils located in six domiciles including pilots assigned to foreign duty in Hong Kong and Cologne, Germany. With more than 650 airports served worldwide, the airline has an extensive and varied fleet. FedEx pilots fly the most demanding flight schedules, reliably serving its customers around the world 365 days a year. FedEx delivers freight to more than 220 countries and territories, including every address in the United States.