Capt. Paul Rice, ALPA First Vice-President
A House of Leaders
They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery. And that is just the case, as we are looked at and emulated by pilot associations, government agencies, and others across the world.
My fellow ALPA brothers and sisters, a tremendous amount can be said about your union when you think about how the rest of the world views us—as the leaders of our profession and leaders of our industry. There are pilot groups that want to join ALPA at any cost. There are pilots groups who want to know how we accomplish what we do. There are government agencies that won’t move forward on an aerospace initiative until we weigh in. Our reputation and track record for leadership in the fields of safety, collective bargaining, and legislative efforts, just to name a few, are legendary.
And it’s not just me, as ALPA‘s First Vice President. Or John as ALPA’s President. Or the Executive Council that sits before you. It is all of us. Every one of the 53,000 ALPA pilots who make up this remarkable, influential, effective union are the face of ALPA. And in this union, we are leaders in a house full of leaders.
It’s been six months since I last addressed you all in this forum. I am pleased to see familiar faces sitting before me and excited to see new faces sitting at the tables before me. Regardless of what drove you to become an ALPA leader, that fact that you are motivated and are dedicated to making a difference is all the evidence I need to know that our passion for our profession still burns bright. It’s only when the seats are empty and the apathy has taken over that I’ll worry about our future generations of ALPA pilots—or the future of ALPA for that matter. But that time is not now. We live in a different time, a time of renewed fervor and hope. I am looking at more than 100 pilot leaders who exude those characteristics every day. You all epitomize leadership.
But, sometimes we lose sight of our own personal leadership role: how we’re all responsible for positioning this union to be the most successful advocacy group that speaks on behalf of all airline pilots. It’s easy to do. Overworked, underpaid, unappreciated, family responsibilities, the list goes on and on. The distractions are relentless. But, through it all, just like navigating through severe weather, we get to the other side and we have accomplished something great.
Whether it’s our reputation as experts in the field of safety or our aggressive prowess in labor negotiations or our proven influence in the regulatory and legislative arenas, including in the international realm—the world has placed us on a symbolic pedestal as a group to emulate.
Maybe you’re scoffing now, thinking that I have my rose-colored glasses on. And, at some level, you’re right; we’re certainly facing our fair share of challenges. But, allow me to give you a few highlights of what I believe are concrete examples of how our light shines across the continent and across the globe when you consider how our leadership is taken rather seriously by others.
First and foremost, our recent achievements in addressing pilot fatigue. You heard Capt. Prater briefly talk about our progress with the FAA and how over the next two days we will consider modifying our ALPA policy on flight-time/duty-time limits. We stress above all a science-based, prescriptive approach to pilot scheduling.
The important aspects to reiterate and consider are how much influence we had with the FAA and its Aviation Rulemaking Committee. One of our very own, Delta Capt. Don Wykoff—who you will hear from later today—co-chaired this very important and influential group. Was that happenstance? Certainly it was not. Our history speaks for itself. Since ALPA’s founding in 1931, we have stressed the need for reasonable limits on flight time and duty time—and the need for regulations to ensure adequate pilot rest between duty periods. Our victories in this area date back to 1934 and that alone speaks volumes. And that elevates ALPA to a higher level than other constituents who also have a dog in this fight.
The next step with this initiative? Complying with the International Civil Aviation Organization, the aviation policy branch of the United Nations, which has mandated that all members states modernize their flight-time/duty-time limits. We’ll take our revised policy and the progress made by our government to ICAO as we lead the way—once again—on combating pilot fatigue.
How about our efforts in organizing? Like others, we’ve had our ups and down. But earlier this year we welcomed 1,700 AirTran pilots into the ALPA fold, and we have several other ongoing campaigns that complement the goals of this union’s strategic plan.
One example I would like to share with you is a burgeoning relationship with the Cathay Pacific pilots, who want to be represented by ALPA to raise their standards in order to get to where we are. If we join forces with these pilots, it only makes us stronger.
Another example is our affiliation with the helicopter pilots in North America, represented by OPEIU. Those pilots have reached out to us in an effort to stem the increasing number of helicopter incidents and accidents that have recently garnered much media attention. The helicopter pilots want legislators to take immediate action regarding the slew of safety issues affecting their profession, and they are seeking ALPA’s expertise to tackle this issue. We are more than willing to help as we demonstrate our proven abilities in this arena. Our reputation precedes us, and this is certainly something to be proud of.
Earlier this month a delegation of IFALPA pilots met in Morocco, which will be the site for the 2010 IFALPA meeting. It could be pure coincidence that after a long and hard-fought battle between the Moroccan Airline Pilots Association and Royal Air Maroc management the two reached an accord during our visit. The story goes like this: An ongoing labor dispute forced the pilots to set in motion multiple strikes, but management did not move. And then, fortuitously, the airline pilots of the world were coming to Morocco and, look, a deal was made. We garnered the attention of not only the Moroccan television and news media, but also Moroccan government officials. Our visit was a big deal. IFALPA is a big deal. ALPA is a big deal. Our support for these international disputes not only continues to enhance our credibility around the globe, but it also establishes an everlasting bond with pilots across oceans who—because of our efforts—will not compete against us in a cost-negative way if the situation arises.
Speaking of building sturdy relationships around the world, ALPA continues to play a role in the current US/EU air service negotiations. ALPA continues to participate as a member of the U.S. negotiating team, and we are in constant contact with appropriate individuals at both the Department of Transportation and the Department of State about our interests.
Earlier this month, the U.S. and the EU held a joint committee meeting and a fourth round of “second stage” negotiations right here in Washington. The two sides continue to present their individual airline labor concerns.
Claude Chêne, the retired director of the European Commission’s aviation directorate, who has been appointed by the Commission to examine the concerns of airline labor, said that he is preparing a written report based on a series of meetings he held with labor, management, and government in August and September of this year and that he intends to issue the report by the end of this month. Within his report will be a proposal to create a “labor chamber” that would be comprised of labor and management representatives and would have some right to present job allocation concerns to the holding company if ownership and control restrictions were eliminated and a holding company could own airlines on both sides of the Atlantic. ALPA has arranged to receive a copy of the report as soon as it’s delivered to the U.S. and EU negotiators.
During the negotiations, the EU continued to press for full access to the U.S. domestic market for their carriers. The EU also reiterated its request that the U.S. eliminate its restrictions on foreign ownership and control of its airlines and asked that EU airlines be given permission to wet lease aircraft to U.S. airlines on U.S. domestic routes.
The U.S. firmly rebuffed the EU request for direct foreign cabotage rights. It did the same with the respect to the wet-lease request on the grounds that wet leasing over U.S. domestic routes is essentially foreign cabotage.
With respect to the request that the U.S. change its ownership and control rules, the U.S. pointed out that the basic rules are statutory, and it is highly unlikely that Congress will be willing to change them any time soon.
Negotiations are set to resume the second week of November. There is some indication that the pace of negotiations will pick up considerably as plans to hold two more rounds of negotiations are tentatively scheduled in January and February. ALPA’s International Affairs Committee is watching these negotiations closely and will be assessing how to respond to proposals that may be made by either the EU or the U.S., always keeping in mind the job security of ALPA pilots.
My final example of ALPA’s influence catapulting us to an enviable leadership position is right here in Washington, D.C. Under the new administration, we are fortunate to welcome new labor-friendly members to the National Mediation Board. You’ll hear from a couple of them later today. As a reinvigorated Board, it has formed an independent, blue-ribbon "Dunlop Committee Reports Review Committee" to examine its internal functions, policies, and procedures and the recommendations of the Dunlop Commission of the 1990s. The Committee is comprised of well-respected practitioners of labor relations who have extensive experience in the airline and railroad industries, including ALPA’s very own Seth Rosen, former director of our Representation Department.
This Dunlop II Committee has been asked to report to the NMB its updated recommendations for improving the agency. The NMB will carefully review the report as the agency looks forward to its next decade of service. The Committee is expected to report its recommendations in November.
ALPA brothers and sisters, those are just a few of the many ways our union demonstrates its strong leadership in our industry. This union is so diverse in its expertise that we are constantly pulled in different directions. And this is because of pilots like you. Pilots who give of themselves to become experts in areas they knew nothing about at the start of their union career. But through time, effort, and dedication, they have surpassed their potential and have become exemplary representatives of our profession and our union.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the minutia of the day and to forget our purpose. We need to take a moment to remember what it took to get here and—more importantly—what it’s going to take to retain our leadership role. I have no doubt that all of you in this room will take this message to heart and continue to provide the strong leadership skills needed to keep ALPA in a position of influence and authority.
Good morning and thank you.