The Rebirth of Spring

Weighing In

By Capt. Joseph Genovese, ALPA Vice President–Finance/Treasurer

Spring is about rebirth, and no spring has felt so much like a rebirth than this past one. It was just before spring 2020, you recall, that COVID-19 shut things down for what was ostensibly going to be just a few weeks.

However, rather than blooming and growing, everything ground to a halt that spring. Any meetings were online only, and we all learned about Zoom and repeated the phrase “You’re on mute.” But we came together and worked for each other.

Spring 2021 saw a reduction in the number of COVID cases and with that our first forays into hybrid meetings and our airplanes returning to the skies slowly but surely. Thanks to the hard work of our leaders, pilot volunteers, and staff, we lobbied Congress for three iterations of the payroll support program, with special language geared toward assisting labor. That aid, along with smart budgeting, kept our Association moving forward and helped the airline industry stay afloat.

And now we’ve just transitioned past spring 2022, and what a beautiful spring it was. Yes, there are still issues within our industry as we emerge from the pandemic, but these are solvable issues. We’re back flying, and we’re more than ready to take the public wherever they need and want to go.

Our Association—your Association—is blooming again as well. Our headquarters offices have reopened, bringing staff back together and allowing for face-to-face meetings, hallway conversations, and the kind of networking and collaboration you can only do in person. There’s an energy, a buzz, and I’m loving being surrounded by it.

With the office reopening, we’ve returned to holding in-person meetings. In the space of two weeks, I cohosted the Secretary-Treasurers Conference with my colleague, Capt. Bill Couette, ALPA’s vice president–administration/secretary, and participated in the 130th Executive Board meeting.

It was my first time in two years seeing some of the attendees, especially our Canadian colleagues, and I felt great joy getting together in person and carrying on the work of our Association.

As I mentioned, our finances remain strong even coming out of the pandemic. Our conservative budgeting and lower expenses (less travel, fewer/no meetings, less overhead, less flight-pay loss), combined with the federal aid from the payroll support program, have kept us on solid financial footing and moving forward.

And I do mean forward. It’s a testament to the strength of ALPA and a true demonstration of how we’re perceived that—even in the midst of a pandemic—we still continue to increase our membership. Since the pandemic started, we’ve added nine pilot groups to our ranks.

And while we’re adding pilot groups, we’re also adding resources. Previously, only pilot groups in the final stages of negotiations were able to receive a grant from the Major Contingency Fund (MCF)—our “war chest.”

Now there’s a second use, postsigning, thanks to the hard work of ALPA’s Structure, Services, and Finance Review Committee. The MCF Contract Implementation program provides funding to support contract implementation and grievances for when airline managements inevitably get amnesia regarding the contract terms they negotiated. To date, three master executive councils (MECs) have begun to receive grants from this program.

ALPA is also gearing up to introduce new retiree benefits—something we’re able to do because of our financial strength.

I recently had the opportunity to attend the AFL-CIO convention in Philadelphia, Pa., where I met hundreds of union workers from all over the country. Each and every one of them invigorated me with their stories and their fight to bargain for fair wages and working conditions. With nearly half of our MECs in some form of bargaining, I encourage all of you to support your leaders by staying engaged and staying informed so that you can achieve the contact that you deserve.

We’ve all heard the phrase “Leave it better than when you got it.” Throughout my career at ALPA and during these past years as a national officer, I’ve strived to do just that. I encourage each of you to pick up that mantle. Help ensure that ALPA and our industry are in a better place when you leave than when you got here.

This article was originally published in the July 2022 issue of Air Line Pilot.

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