ALPA’s Granite Line

By: Capt. Tim Canoll, ALPA President

Vince Lombardi, whose name is now etched on the Super Bowl trophy, was the most famous of the Seven Blocks of Granite, the linemen who made possible Fordham University’s rise to football fame during the Great Depression. The linemen had earned the nickname because of their reputation for blocking opponents, but also for their focus on offense.

Whether stopping their opponent’s march down the field or shielding their quarterback so that he could deliver a touchdown pass, the Seven Blocks of Granite did whatever it took for their team to win. They sacrificed and committed to achieving an unbeatable record.

At ALPA, our members are, collectively, the quarterback. Every member casts a vote to elect their representative who serves on ALPA’s Board of Directors, our union’s highest governing body. In October, ALPA’s board gathered for its 47th biennial meeting and elected a new slate of national officers and executive vice presidents. The board also passed the latest iteration of our union’s strategic plan, a process that began in 2006 and makes possible the right defensive or offensive play to achieve our members’ goals in an ever-changing industry and environment.

With the guidance of ALPA’s strategic plan, our union has achieved remarkable success, even as we acknowledge that our work is never done. Thanks to our members’ commitment, our contracts are getting stronger with each negotiation. Since 2015, we’ve signed major new contracts at 15 of our pilot groups. For example, the Spirit and JetBlue contracts this year were huge. Because of the grit and determination of these pilot groups, we all benefit from a stronger pattern in the next round of bargaining.

Across the industry, other airline pilots recognize ALPA members’ accomplishments. As a result, we’ve moved ahead in our mission to represent all U.S. and Canadian airline pilots. Since 2015, our organizing and growth have added more than 10,000 members. To build on this growth, ALPA’s board passed at its most recent meeting a resolution to reduce member dues from 1.90 percent to 1.85 percent effective Jan. 1, 2020.

We’ve also made phenomenal achievements this year in advocating for our members’ safety, security, pilot assistance, and jumpseat goals. The newly enacted five-year FAA reauthorization bill maintains pilot training, qualification, and experience requirements and two fully qualified pilots in the cockpit of every passenger and cargo aircraft. At the same time, ALPA’s offense meant the bill also advances our pilot-partisan agenda and promotes the future of the piloting profession. The list of ALPA priorities reflected in this bill is long.

We have much to be proud of, but there is much more work to be done. Despite passing language in the U.S. House to ensure that flag-of-convenience airlines aren’t allowed to threaten the U.S. airline industry, the “America First” provision wasn’t included in the final FAA bill. Make no mistake: We’ll never let up on our commitment to level the playing field and protect our jobs against foreign airlines seeking to game the system.

Likewise, we’ll continue our drive to require the installation of hardened flight deck doors on cargo airliners and secondary cockpit barriers on cargo and existing passenger aircraft. We’ll also keep up the pressure for the Canadian government to issue long-awaited flight- and duty-time regulations.

Similarly, ALPA is defending the future of the piloting profession and fair competition for our members. For example, while commitments to the U.S. government from both the United Arab Emirates and Qatar regarding fair competition were encouraging, it’s action that counts. Commitment versus action is already at issue with Qatar’s effective control of Air Italy and its service to the United States.

In addition, we know that creating a strong pilot pipeline for the future is essential in both the United States and Canada. No one—no one—is more committed than ALPA to ensuring a safe, strong supply of qualified airline pilots.

The scale of our members’ accomplishments is staggering. And because of our more than 61,000 pilots’ commitment to this union, I feel certain that ALPA’s granite line is up to the challenge—any challenge.