Executive Board Convenes, Debates Dues Reduction

By John Perkinson, Senior Staff Writer

Following much discussion and debate, ALPA’s Executive Board, at its 123th regular meeting in mid-September, approved a resolution recommending that the Association’s Board of Directors (BOD) authorize a member dues rate reduction when the union’s highest governing body convenes later this month. The board members acted on 16 resolutions, ranging from policy adjustments to special budget requests. In addition, ALPA’s national officers, executive vice presidents, and master executive council (MEC) chairs heard pilot group updates and continued the Association’s strategic planning process.

In deliberating over the dues-reduction resolution, the Executive Board recommended that the BOD consider a dues change from 1.90 percent of gross monthly earnings for active and executive active members to 1.85 percent. The proposed language, if enacted as is, would go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

The proposal includes revisions to the formulas for allocating dues income among MECs to help ensure that smaller pilot groups aren’t adversely affected by the decreased income stream. In addition, the Executive Board directed ALPA’s president to establish a committee to undertake a comprehensive review of the Association’s services, finances, and structure.

ALPA’s dues rate was last reduced in January 2014, when the rate dropped from 1.95 percent to 1.9 percent.

National officer reports

The Executive Board meeting began with national officer reports. Capt. Tim Canoll, ALPA’s president, talked about the imminent FAA reauthorization bill and language proposed by the U.S. House of Representatives. The House version of the legislation includes several actions ALPA has long lobbied for, including maintaining minimum first officer qualification, training, and experience requirements; implementing stronger guidelines for the air transport of lithium batteries; and requiring secondary cockpit barriers on new passenger airliners. However, the House version also calls for a six-month study to promote single-pilot cockpit operations on all-cargo flights, which ALPA strongly opposes as it would clearly jeopardize safety.

“As decision makers determine the future of our industry and our profession, it’s incumbent on us to make our views heard in the debate,” said Canoll, underscoring the need for ALPA to be a part of any public discussion on airline operations. Alluding to a famous quote by former Rep. Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. Congress, Canoll noted, “ALPA pilots know we can only drive change if we have a seat at the table—and we’ll bring a folding chair to get one.”

Capt. Joe DePete, ALPA’s first vice president and national safety coordinator, discussed the Association’s recent Air Safety Forum and the extraordinary work of ALPA’s Air Safety Organization, which supported the event. “Even though our industry and the airline piloting profession are currently experiencing favorable conditions and blue skies, we must be prepared for the challenges that loom on the horizon,” said DePete. “We must remain ever vigilant, watching for threats, understanding and managing risks, taking advantage of opportunities, and advocating on behalf of the entire airline industry.”

“In the last two years, we’ve accomplished great things together,” observed Capt. Bill Couette, ALPA’s vice president–administration/secretary, who added, “We’ve grown and expanded the union with improved products and services.” Couette talked about ALPA’s infrastructure improvements that are part of the union’s Project AMBER and the expansion of Professional Development Group outreach efforts to further ALPA’s strategic plan. “We continue to promote the piloting profession and secure its future. But our work isn’t finished. We must continue the strategic planning process to determine where we go for the next two years and beyond,” he said.

Capt. Randy Helling, ALPA’s vice president–finance/treasurer, commented, “ALPA is on strong financial footing because of each and every one of you, and your fellow volunteers,” crediting ALPA’s leaders for keeping the Association in good standing. He reviewed the status of the Association’s finances and how they’re being budgeted moving forward. Helling told Executive Board members, “Remember, it’s hard enough to spend money wisely when you don’t have any, but it’s even harder to spend money wisely when you do. Thank you once again for being good stewards of your pilots’ hard-earned dues dollars.”

Plenary session

During plenary, the Executive Board addressed numerous resolutions including a Major Contingency Fund grant of C$1 million to the pilots of Air Georgian for the endgame of their contract negotiations. The body voted to pass a measure along to the BOD that calls for departure proxies, making it possible for pilots attending local council meetings to leave early and give voting proxies to other attending members. The Executive Board also forwarded a resolution to the BOD to consider the authorization/use of electronic local council officer nominations.

While in delegate committees, Executive Board members reviewed the final progress report of the Association’s 2016 strategic plan goals, objectives, and initiatives. ALPA national committee chairs and subject-matter experts also presented proposed 2018 strategic plan language for input before it moves onto the BOD. All ALPA pilots are encouraged to sign in to see the union’s most recent strategic plan..

Acting FAA Administrator Addresses Board

FAA Acting Administrator Dan Elwell, a former airline pilot, served as keynote speaker for ALPA’s Executive Board meeting. “It’s a pleasure and an honor to be with the greatest safety organization in the world,” he said, adding, “Without you, your efforts, and your participation, we wouldn’t have the [safety] record we have today.”

Elwell talked about the 28 extensions reauthorizing the FAA in recent years and how these short-term solutions do little more than fund existing programs. He noted the large amount of time his agency is spending on the oversight of unmanned aircraft systems and last month’s FAA’s Aviation Workforce Symposium, which focused on how to best attract young people to the aviation industry and improve the quality and efficiency of training.

Elwell also took questions from the Executive Board, which touched on topics like commercial space and whether regional airlines will be ready to comply with the agency’s mandate that U.S. airliners be automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) capable by Jan. 1, 2020. When Capt. Mike Sterling (Air Transport International), his pilot group’s Master Executive Council chair, asked about the proposed single-pilot cockpit study in the House version of the FAA reauthorization bill, Elwell assured Sterling that any changes the agency incorporates would have to maintain or improve current safety levels.

Pilots Helping Pilots

During the Execute Board meeting when master executive council (MEC) chairs provided briefings on pilot group activities, Capt. Stuart Morrison (Spirit), his pilot group’s MEC chair, shared a poignant story. This summer a Spirit pilot at Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport became incapacitated and had to be transported on a gurney to a local hospital. A Delta pilot witnessing the incident followed the Spirit pilot to the hospital to monitor his condition. The Delta pilot soon contacted F/O Ellen Brinks (Delta), ALPA’s Aeromedical Group chair, who lives in Houston, Tex., and she also went to the hospital to check on the Spirit pilot.

Morrison commented that these gestures are a clear testament to the bonds that exist among ALPA members and personally thanked Capt. Bill Bartels (Delta), his pilot group’s MEC chair, for the Delta pilots’ support.

Get on the Bus

The Frontier pilots’ “Strike Bus,” a mobile strike center, was at ALPA’s offices in Herndon, Va., for the Association’s Executive Board meeting, providing photo opportunities and giving tours to pilots and staff alike. The pilots are on a national tour to help communicate to the public that Frontier pilots and management are at an impasse after nearly three years of contract negotiations.

This article was originally published in the October 2018 issue of Air Line Pilot.

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