Our Third Decade of Moving Canadian Aviation Forward

By Capt. Dan Adamus (Jazz Aviation), ALPA Canada President

It’s been 21 years since the inception of ALPA’s Canada Board; and for more than half that time, I’ve had the privilege of serving as ALPA Canada president. Looking back, we’ve much to be proud of. In fact, I’d say my expectations have been exceeded. Yet I say this with some caveats.

Shortly after the Canadian Air Line Pilots Association (CALPA) merged with ALPA in 1997, I was optimistic that ALPA could bring all the Canadian pilot groups together within the first few years. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. During the early 2000s, Canadian pilot groups grew further apart, and I feared we’d never achieve pilot unity in Canada.

But we’re getting there!

And we’re doing it by continuing to do what ALPA does best:

  • Negotiating good, progressive contracts for pilot groups.
  • Advancing airline safety and security.
  • Advocating for airline pilots on issues that affect our profession, our industry, and our livelihoods.
  • Providing our members with the resources they need to deal with industry stakeholders, government officials, and the public.

We also opened up conversations about common goals and respect in the pilot community. For far too long, pilot groups have worked for individual causes, which impeded our ability in Canada to work collaboratively. These conversations, which focus on our profession, must continue and turn into something tangible, for the benefit of everyone.

In 2002, ALPA represented 1,500 pilots and five pilot groups in Canada. However, over the past few years, more and more pilot groups decided they wanted to become a part of ALPA. Today, the number of pilots has more than tripled to 5,000, while our pilot groups have increased to 11. Why? Because ALPA is the preeminent pilots’ union in the world, having a top-notch staff and unmatched resources. And without sounding overconfident, I’m hopeful that 2018 will bring us even more members.

Regarding the work we do, our evolution over the past two decades has set us apart. We’re well respected and recognized for our efforts with various stakeholders, including Members of Parliament and government regulators. We’ve worked strategically to cultivate these relationships, and over the years people have taken notice. We understand that good relationships can open the door only so far, but having a solid network of industry associates is essential to achieving our goals.

Without initial access, we wouldn’t have the ability or opportunity to effect positive change. And to achieve this change, ALPA understands the need to be meticulous. Before we draft white papers and testimony, before we give presentations, and before we go to the news media, we research and analyze each and every issue. We’re consistent in our messaging and in our mandate. This consistency is key to ALPA’s credibility. People take notice, and it’s made them want to become a member of ALPA’s family—a family that provides many advantages. These advantages exist in large part due to the tremendous support we receive from our ALPA family union wide on issues that are unique to Canada.

Of these issues, we’ve kept our focus on flight- and duty-time regulations and will continue our efforts throughout 2018. It’s been a long road so far, and we’ve played a major role in ensuring that we hold the government accountable on this critical issue.

We’re also proud of the changes made to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Due in large measure to ALPA’s staunch advocacy efforts, Parliament mandated that Canadian carriers are no longer able to staff seasonal variations in fleet capacity with foreign pilots when unemployed Canadian pilots are available. We effected positive change that ensures Canadian pilots have first dibs on Canadian jobs, which is exactly what we asked for.

Heading into 2018, more work needs to be done, and we can’t do it by ourselves. It takes a team of dedicated volunteers and staff. This ALPA team—which sets our union apart—continues to do an amazing job, working every day to enhance our profession and our industry. I’m honored to be a member of ALPA’s team.

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

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