Our Union’s Shared Cause

By Capt. Joe DePete, ALPA President

It might be a cadre of climbers stranded on a treacherous rockface or trekkers lost in a remote wilderness, but when a group of people faces a life-threatening situation, experts tell us that survival is more likely if every member understands and works toward a shared goal to overcome it.

This “shared mental model” concept is often applied in a corporate environment, in which a team’s ability to align individual ideas behind a single group focus improves success in fields from the military to health care. While the idea may be new thinking to some, working in unity and guided by a shared vision that has emerged from constructive debate is common practice for ALPA pilots.

We witnessed the power of a single group focus when ALPA’s highest governing body held our union’s 48th regular Board of Directors (BOD) meeting. For the first time, the board gathered virtually for its biennial conference. The BOD meeting covered ALPA’s work to preserve jobs, prevent furloughs and layoffs, and support pilots facing employment uncertainty, even as we continue to press for improvements in our members’ pay, quality of life, and benefits.

Among the key outcomes of the meeting, the BOD underscored our union’s commitment to diversity by overwhelmingly passing a resolution to expand ALPA’s Code of Ethics and Canons to foster “an environment of inclusiveness through equity and equality.” With this policy foundation, the board’s vision for equity and equality will be reflected and furthered through the work of the President’s Committee for Diversity & Inclusion (PCDI).

Recently, the PCDI developed a work plan to cultivate and promote a diverse, inclusive, and welcoming culture. The committee’s formation and the expanded Code of Ethics ensure that our union embraces all who wish to pursue the airline piloting profession. It also supports our efforts to create a level playing field for all ALPA pilots now and for those who are interested in joining our ranks. Even in the short time since we created the PCDI, our union has come a long way in instilling a shared mental model of diversity and inclusion for our organization and profession.

During the three-day BOD meeting, delegates also had the opportunity to discuss current issues and recommend goals, objectives, and initiatives to incorporate into ALPA’s 2020 strategic plan. Board delegates reviewed the effects of the pandemic on our union’s ongoing work to improve pilots’ working conditions as well as advance pilot-partisan advocacy and our aviation safety, security, pilot assistance, jumpseat, and flight- and duty-time goals.

With the direction of the BOD, ALPA’s national officers, committee members, and staff are moving forward to make our shared pro-worker, pilot-partisan vision a reality. For example, ALPA pilots in Canada recently promoted a shared vision for the Canadian airline industry by helping conduct a “Save Canadian Aviation Rally” at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. Led by F/O Tim Perry, ALPA Canada president, we joined union aviation workers from the Air Canada Pilots Association, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, and Unifor to call for aviation-specific economic support from the Canadian government.

Similarly, ALPA pilots also demonstrate a shared mental model on Capitol Hill. For instance, our Political Action Committee (PAC) allows ALPA to ensure that U.S. lawmakers are informed about airline pilots’ priorities. During this election cycle, more than 13,700 ALPA members gave to the PAC, and our union contributed $4.6 million to pilot-partisan candidates and committees on both sides of the political aisle. In addition, we launched ALPA’s Vote, Then Fly website to equip pilots with real-time information about how to vote for pilot-partisan representatives regardless of political affiliation.

Our pilots’ decades of dedication to a common union cause is being noticed—and our pro-worker, pilot-partisan movement is growing. On October 27, the National Mediation Board certified the results of the Amerijet International pilots’ write-in campaign for ALPA representation; we’re proud to welcome them aboard.

By coming together and committing to adapt our individual knowledge and experience to achieve a common goal, ALPA pilots have overcome crisis and realized accomplishment throughout our history. Guided by our unyielding commitment to our industry, our companies, and each other, we also stand united and prepared for the future.