Looking for Solid Pay, Career Growth, and Retirement?

By Capt. Joe DePete, ALPA President

Elections remind us how much politicians and lawmakers influence our profession—and that ALPA pilots speaking with one voice is often a decisive factor in their positions. This fact is one reason that our union is reinforcing to U.S. and Canadian government leaders of all political parties that ALPA members are fighting for strong labor rights—rights that hold the key to improving our pay, benefits, careers, and retirement.

While another U.S. government shutdown seems almost inconceivable, it may again become a possibility at the end of the year. Were another shutdown allowed to occur, it could mean that aviation workers would again be forced to go without pay and that the resources that ensure that air travel is safe and secure could again be strained to the breaking point.

In the long view, another U.S. government shutdown would also threaten efforts to modernize U.S. airspace and U.S. airlines’ ability to compete internationally. It’s clear that such a situation would not only harm individuals but also the system we help operate. For this reason, ALPA strongly supports legislation introduced in the U.S. Congress that would allow the FAA to carry out its mission should another government shutdown occur.

In yet another example of our commitment to the dignity of work, Air Wisconsin pilots recently approved a three-year contract that will provide $6 million in pay raises and other improvements. The Air Wisconsin pilots simply refused to back down on their principles—and they stayed unified during more than a decade of talks. This vote ends one of the longest-running contract negotiations at ALPA—and it’s a tribute to our pilots’ determination.

Unity is also critical to the dignity of our work as it relates to safety and our quality of life on the job. As every ALPA pilot understands, a system is only as safe as its weakest link. Failing to protect cargo pilots from fatigue is a weakness that threatens all who share the national airspace—as well as those who dwell and do business below it.

We know that the solution lies in Congress passing the Safe Skies Act of 2019, which would apply the same science-based flight- and duty-time and minimum rest requirements from which passenger pilots benefit to pilots who fly freight. At a Capitol Hill news conference to announce the bill’s introduction, I was proud to stand together with the Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations, the Independent Pilots Association, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters to express the support of all U.S. pilots who fly cargo.

ALPA’s commitment to the dignity of work is equally strong in Canada. As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau begins his second term, and newly reappointed Minister of Transport Marc Garneau and Minister of Labour Filomena Tassi undertake their roles, ALPA Canada pilots will seek the answer to the question we posed to all parties during their campaigns: How will the prime minister and his government uphold free, collective bargaining?

How U.S. and Canadian workers stand together at this moment is critical for workers today as well as those of tomorrow as users of the national airspace such as commercial spaceflight expand operations and new technologies emerge that could enhance safety—or raise new risks. I’ve made clear that the voice of ALPA pilots must be heard.

As the president of the Ford Foundation said in 2018, “Too often, discussions about the future of work center on technology rather than on the people who will be affected by it. And they rarely acknowledge how the concentration of political and economic power shapes the way technology is developed and deployed.”

It’s inspiring to witness democracy in action during the election season. It’s even more inspiring when workers send those in political and economic power an unequivocal message that we stand together and will not back down from our principles. Together, ALPA pilots hold our own power to make clear that workers have a right to a voice in our future.