Resources for Navigating the Challenges Ahead

By Capt. Bill Couette, ALPA Vice President–Administration/Secretary

Right now, tens of thousands of our members are in a holding pattern waiting to see what will happen in the coming months as the fallout from the global coronavirus pandemic rages on.

ALPA remains at the forefront, fighting to protect our pilots’ careers, strengthen aviation safety, and help restore consumer confidence in the industry. In addition, we’ve been working tirelessly behind the scenes to bolster our union resources for members who’ve already been affected by current events and those who will be.

As a 31-year ALPA member, I’ve experienced many industry downturns and understand that every member has to prepare in their own way. This can be a daunting task for both pilots and their support network, so it’s important to know that you’re not alone.

ALPA prides itself on the support it provides members in good times and, perhaps more significantly, in times of crisis. That’s truly when our mettle is proven. This latest situation has brought together a network of programs, services, and guidance that members across the Association can use to address their own unique circumstances (see “Furlough Resources: ALPA Is Here to Help You Navigate the Curves Ahead” in the August 2020 issue of Air Line Pilot). Spearheading this effort is ALPA’s Professional Development Group, specifically the Membership Committee and its Furloughed Pilots Support Program (FPSP) and Veterans Affairs Committee.

The FPSP should be your first stop in preparing for an uncertain future. This program was developed based upon feedback from previously furloughed pilots to help members navigate this difficult period in their careers. A myriad of resources, information, and guidance for both U.S. and Canadian members can be found on the FPSP website. This includes how to prepare for a furlough, what to do if you’re furloughed, unemployment resources, medical information, and much more.

The free webinar series “Supporting ALPA Pilots,” presented in partnership with Cage Marshall Consulting, covers a wide variety of topics to further support our members. Live webinars focus on assisting pilots with their flying and nonflying job search and how to translate their skills to apply for a position. Prerecorded sessions include résumé and cover-letter development, nonflying interview preparation, perspective and planning, stress management, basic finances and benefits, and preparing your finances for a recession. Also look at the free skills assessment worksheet and a self-evaluation questionnaire; these documents were designed to help pilots prepare for and pursue various employment opportunities.

In addition, ALPA has teamed up with universities and others to assist members who may be interested in furthering their education. California Coast University offers undergraduate or graduate degrees and certificate programs to all ALPA members in good standing for a 10 percent tuition discount. U.S. ALPA pilots and their family members are eligible to attend Thomas Edison State University at discounted tuition rates, or they can take advantage of the Union Plus Free College Benefit to earn a degree or certificate at little to no cost.

The Membership Committee also established the Family Issues Group website as a resource for pilots dealing with a variety of family-related matters such as elder care, divorce, childcare needs, and choosing a licensed counselor or therapist. The information on this site is intended to help you navigate other issues you may be dealing with closer to home as well as direct you to additional ALPA resources such as ALPA’s Peer Pilot Support program, which offers support by trained pilot peers who are available to listen to any personal or professional problems you’re experiencing. Many topics also connect back to ALPA Pilot Assistance programs covering professional standards concerns, alcohol and substance abuse and dependency, aeromedical issues, and support for members involved in accidents or critical incidents.

This isn’t the first time we, as pilots, have faced adversity, and it likely won’t be the last. ALPA will continue to be in your corner, empowering you with the tools and support you need to navigate the challenges ahead. Tough times don’t last, but tough people do. We’ll get through this tough time together and come out of it stronger than ever.

This article was originally published in the September 2020 issue of Air Line Pilot.

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