Embracing Change While Building Unity

By Capt. Tyler Hawkins, ALPA Vice President–Administration/Secretary

From the moment my probationary year ended at my first airline, ALPA service has been an integral part of my airline career. I’m passionate about being an airline pilot, but also committed to serving my fellow crewmembers, and I look forward to the next four years as your vice president–administration/secretary.

As I transition to this new role, it should come as no surprise that change has been an ongoing theme in my recent daily experience. While adjustments are to be expected as the Association transitions from one presidential administration to the next, ALPA’s newest officers also bring a fresh perspective and a new direction for the union and its pilots.

Change is a necessary part of the way ALPA conducts its business as approximately a third of the Association’s Board of Directors members run for and are elected to their posts each year. The latest group of status reps and other new local council officers attended the Association’s Leadership Training Conference last month at ALPA’s offices in McLean, Va. The agenda provided a comprehensive look at what it means to be a pilot rep and an effective leader, and how these individuals can best work with the different ALPA departments and staff to maximize their efforts.

Conference segments covered a variety of topics ranging from understanding the duty of fair representation to learning how member suggestions and ideas move through our Association’s governance structure to become ALPA policy and shape our strategic plan. This event is just one of the many training opportunities ALPA makes available to our elected leaders and volunteers.

In my conversations with these new pilot leaders, I tried to stress the different ways we engage and mobilize our members, support our master executive councils, and manage committee and staff resources to conduct the business of our union. It’s our collective responsibility to leverage our resources to their fullest, but also to periodically reevaluate them to ensure we’re implementing the best possible approaches.

ALPA is a pilot-driven organization and, in preparing the organization’s newest pilot leaders, we stand on the shoulders of the those who came before us to help the current and future generations contend with an ever-evolving aviation industry and the new challenges that come with it.

Moving forward, it’s important that we remain open to new ideas. While I’m not advocating change for change’s sake, the future success and very existence of our profession depend on our ability to adjust the union’s course when new conditions and circumstances warrant it. When traveling, we can’t always fly directly to our destinations. Weather and operational issues may compel us to occasionally rethink our plans. ALPA is no different.

In my new role, I’ll diligently support all efforts to uphold ALPA’s stewardship to protect and safeguard the airline piloting profession and our careers. I want to foster an organization that works for all pilots, to create an environment where everyone’s voice matters. Diversity of thought sparks innovation, allowing us to draw from a broader range of ideas to increase our productivity and the likelihood of our success. Accordingly, as leaders of the world’s preeminent airline pilots’ association, the other national officers and I want to encourage everyone who’s interested in becoming an airline pilot to do so.

As we continue to chart this new course, it’s important we remember that unity is our core strength. While aviation’s many stakeholders and their competing interests and demands can sometimes make the industry feel like a tug of war, our Association works best when we all pull in the same direction. Unity doesn’t necessarily mean agreement. We’re bound to have differences of opinion, but we must work to build consensus and stand together in the decisions we make.

Unity requires continuous communications, and effectively communicating requires listening. Only when we hear each other—as line pilots and elected pilot leaders—can we act in a manner that best serves our collective goals. I look forward to engaging with you during the next four years, hearing your concerns and priorities, and, when appropriate, embracing new ideas so that we can continue to move our careers and our profession forward.

This article was originally published in the March 2023 issue of Air Line Pilot.

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