Member Surveys On the Way

Air Line Pilot, February 2005, p.28

Advocacy and Age 60 web polls to launch. 

ALPA and its member pilot groups have long recognized polling as a powerful tool for gauging members' views on a broad variety of issues and concerns related to the piloting profession, member benefits and programs, and collective bargaining agreements. From determining the strategic direction of the Association to setting policy to developing plans for contract negotiations, ALPA and its MECs and LECs rely on the data collected through telephone and written surveys, and now web-based polling, to help shape strategic courses of action. 

Recently, ALPA decided to poll pilots on a variety of issues using scientifically proven web-based technology. The result of this effort will be a series of comprehensive membershipwide polls that will be conducted throughout the year. The first two surveys--a poll to assess how ALPA as an international union can be more effective as an advocate for pilots' concerns, and a poll of members' views on the FAA Age 60 rule--will be conducted over the first 3 months of this year.

ALPA's leaders encourage members to participate in the membershipwide polls.

The survey on the Association's advocacy role will begin in February. A blast e-mail message with a link to the poll will be sent to all members in good standing whose e-mail address is on file. Visit crewroom., enter My ALPA, and make sure your e-mail address is up-to-date. Those without current e-mail addresses will still be able to take the poll by logging into and following the link posted there. 

Then in March, as promised, ALPA will survey members, including furloughees and Canadian members, on issues and concerns related to Age 60. This survey is a major component of the Association's initiative to educate members on the rationale for the Age 60 rule, ALPA's policy on Age 60, and the possible implications of increasing the "mandatory retirement age." 

Although the Association continues to receive hundreds of e-mail messages and letters from pilots in response to the IN FOCUS newsletters and the articles that have appeared in Air Line Pilot (staff members record and track these messages), all members will have the opportunity to register their views on this issue. Members' input on this issue is crucial to ALPA as it considers its future position on Age 60. Results from this survey will be included in a report to the Executive Board at its May meeting. 

The advent of web-based surveys has made polling more accessible and more affordable, enabling users to reach a wider audience. However, many of the web-based polls available do not conform to proper survey methodologies nor are they professionally analyzed, leading to inaccurate results that don't truly reflect the views of the audience. 

Thus, the ALPA Executive Board, at its May 2004 meeting, passed a resolution creating an ALPA Polling and Survey Policy to ensure that data collection, analysis, and result reporting are conducted and prepared using generally accepted professional standards, services, and methodologies. The policy emphasizes the importance of respecting the confidential nature of members' opinions and sentiments on matters of a sensitive nature, and distributing the results to individuals only on a "need to know" basis. 

Under the policy, only ALPA-approved polling services can perform surveys for the Association and MECs. In doing this, the Association will continue to collect data that are unbiased, statistically valid, and accurately represent the demography of the members or a specific pilot group. 

ALPA and its MECs have used the Wilson Center for Public Research to develop and process telephone surveys. The Association continues to work with the Center, most recently to survey members on several areas of aviation security and safety. Based on the success of this Internet and telephone poll, ALPA is moving forward with more web-based polling and has entered into an agreement with CCComplete to use that company's web-based survey engine for all of the Association's Internet-based polls. 

For the past 3 years, ALPA has used CCComplete's Ballot Point system to process ballots electronically, making the process more efficient and effective. Its program integrates seamlessly with ALPA's membership database and provides the confidentiality necessary to protect members' privacy. 

As ALPA begins to take advantage of new technologies to survey its members, it is following scientific principles-including sample accuracy, high response rates that limit self-selection bias, questionnaire design that is unbiased and impartial, thorough analysis that assesses consistency of data and relates the survey results to contextual factors, and distribution of results that maintain members' confidentiality-that make polling such a powerful tool. 

ALPA's leaders encourage members to participate in the membershipwide polls that are scheduled and in the surveys that your MECs conduct. Information is power, and the more information you provide, the better the Association is able to represent you.