Release #: Vol. 84, No. 9
November 01, 2015

Our Union: Democracy Is the Core of Discovery

By Capt. Tim Canoll, ALPA President

On Nov. 24, 1805, after crossing the North American continent to reach the Pacific Ocean, Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery was in search of a site for winter encampment. Three locations held both promise and peril. The over-winter site was crucial—for every individual in the corps, the resources that might or might not be available there could mean life or death.

To make the decision, Lewis and Clark took a remarkable actionthey called on every individual in the corps’ diverse membership to vote, regardless of race or gender. For what was a military expedition, holding a vote was exceptional. Given the times, ensuring that every member had a voice was extraordinary.

The vote marked a reflection of the new country’s commitment to democracy, but it was also a tribute to the deep respect that the Corps of Discovery members held for one another. Crossing an uncharted continent and enduring enormous physical hardship necessitated—and inspired—an exceptional team.

At ALPA, democratic principles and exceptional teamwork mark our every action. Through it, we are able to discover new information, forge new strategies, and achieve even more to advance our industry and our members’ interests.

This month, democracy is front and center in both the United States and Canada. In the United States, the FAA’s current reauthorization has been extended until March 31, 2016––ALPA pilots and staff are pressing hard for lawmakers to pass a robust safety bill by that deadline. The off-year national election just took place, and the 2016 presidential election is on the horizon.

In October, Canadian citizens voted in a new government. ALPA looks forward to introducing the Liberal Party to ALPA’s pilot-partisan agenda, including action on flight- and duty-time regulations, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, and reporting requirements for unions.

In this edition, ALPA highlights our elected representatives’ responsibility to listen to their constituents as part of the democratic equation. We report on Nick Morgan, the 13-year-old son of F/O Suzie Morgan (United), who came to Washington, D.C., to talk with his congressman about the U.S. Open Skies policy. He spoke with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) about the current problems with the U.S. Open Skies agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar and the need for the U.S. government to enforce the agreement by opening consultations. Please turn to page 27 to read more and, if you haven’t already, join the fight to save airline jobs by visiting ALPA’s website.

We have also seen democracy in action as the hallmark of our union’s representation and governance. Earlier this year, 95 percent of Virgin America pilots participated in the vote with 75 percent voting for ALPA representation—one of the highest counts in ALPA history.

Since January, our members have ratified five tentative agreements. ALPA’s leaders at these pilot groups are to be congratulated for their dedication and drive at the bargaining table and for capitalizing on their union’s resources and expertise through road shows, economic analysis, and communications.

ALPA pilots have also voted down several tentative agreements this year. It’s our union leaders’ job to listen carefully to the reasons for dissent and use it to discover new ways to help our pilot group leaders achieve their members’ goals. As with the Corps of Discovery, unity going in, unity throughout, and unity in the end will lead to the productive discussion of the pros and cons that is essential to moving forward.

While the Lewis and Clark expedition was not without controversy then or now, the vote to winter on the south side of the Columbia River proved pivotal. It resulted in the safe return of the team of explorers and the reporting of new discoveries.

For ALPA, democracy lies at the core of discovery.

This article is from the November 2015 issue of Air Line Pilot magazine, the Official Journal of the Air Line Pilots Association, International—a monthly publication for all ALPA members.