Executive Board Tackles Key Issues
Age 60 survey first order of business.

By Gary DiNunno, Editor-in-Chief
Air Line Pilot, June/July 2005, p.14

One thing that members of the ALPA Executive Board knew before they arrived in Washington, D.C., for their May meeting: They would be hearing a lot about the Age 60 Rule. Before they left D.C., they had extensively reviewed membership polling data and passed two resolutions related to the issue. The fundamental result of their decisions was to leave ALPA’s support for the FAA’s Age 60 operational limit intact.

Full information on that survey is available at crewroom.alpa.org and in Issue 7 of In Focus, which has been mailed to all U.S. ALPA members. A behind-the-scenes look at how the Executive Board debated the issue begins on the facing page.

Delegates to the 95th regular Executive Board meeting, held May 24–25, in Washington, D.C., took the following actions:

Behind the Scenes with the Age 60 Issue

ALPA’s Executive Board, when it meets, discusses, and decides on an important issue, exercises a highly evolved form of democracy. The 75 years of practice make the ALPA process a clear and open forum for making decisions, even on the toughest issues. But members can’t get a feel for it while sitting in a cockpit or preparing for the next flight. So here’s a brief look at how the Board received the Age 60 report at its May meeting.

In September 2004, ALPA’s Executive Board directed ALPA’s President to conduct an informational campaign on the FAA Age 60 Rule and to conduct a survey of the Association’s members to determine their views regarding the Rule. The survey, the largest ever undertaken in the union’s history, consisted of a web survey available to all active ALPA members, augmented with a random telephone poll of members. Executive Board members heard the results of that poll during the opening session of their May meeting.

Phil Comstock, president of the Wilson Center for Public Research, presented the survey results to the Board, reporting that 56 percent of ALPA members did not support a rule change, while 42 percent said that they would favor changing the FAA rule.

Once the complete report was presented and all questions answered, the agenda moved on to other issues. Once the plenary session ended, Committee 3--which had been charged to discuss and recommend action on the Age 60 survey--trooped off to a nondescript conference room that was furnished with a large meeting table on one end and rows of chairs on the perimeter for other interested pilots and staff members.

Members of the Committee, during their first meeting, spent nearly 3 hours voicing their opinions on a wide range of topics relating to the issue and asking questions of Comstock and ALPA staff members. The members of Committee 3 knew from the start that this was not the first time that a group of ALPA members had been assigned this task. For nearly half a century, Executive Board members have been grappling with the Age 60 issue. And through the years, the opinions of Association members have reflected the pressing concerns of their time, resulting in ALPA policies on both sides of the question.

The Committee worked through lunch, not adjourning until it had to break so that its members could rejoin other Executive Board members in plenary session. At this point, the Committee was still involved in major discussions and had not reached consensus on agenda items relating to Age 60.

Shortly after reconvening in the afternoon, the members of Committee 3 voted to continue their business in executive session, closing discussion to outsiders and leaving the curious to congregate outside the entrance to the Committee’s meeting room. Displaced spectators milled about the conference center contemplating the possible outcomes, watching inquisitively as ALPA officers and staff members were summoned by the Committee chairman to provide their expertise on questions relating to the issue. Hushed conversations could be heard among groups of MEC chairmen who stood together discussing the issue and weighing the effects of possible scenarios on their pilot groups and on their careers.

Committee members emerged from their isolation on the second and final morning of the Executive Board meeting with a draft resolution to take before the full Executive Board. The Committee recommended that the Board receive the report of ALPA’s President regarding the Age 60 education initiative and directed the Association to provide the results of the survey to the membership as a whole. The draft resolution further directed the Government Affairs Department to report to the October 2005 Executive Board on legislative activities related to the FAA Age 60 Rule. The resolution was passed unanimously in plenary session.

“This Executive Board has exhibited true leadership in acknowledging that the time had come to find out what the members of our Association really think about the FAA Age 60 Rule,” said Capt. Woerth. “It was done in a very thorough, complete, and professional manner, and I appreciate your willingness to take on this difficult task.

“All the members of this Executive Board, regardless of which side of the issue they supported, expressed their views forcefully and represented the interests of their individual pilot groups well,” Capt. Woerth said. “They can all be proud of their role in this undertaking.”

--Gavin Francis, Staff Writer

Age 60: The Executive Board accepted the report that the Age 60 Committee prepared and reviewed the member education program and poll that the Board had approved during its October 2004 meeting. After a detailed presentation of the poll results, the Board directed ALPA to provide the survey results to ALPA members and directed the Government Affairs Department to report to the October 2005 Executive Board on legislative activities related to the FAA’s Age 60 Rule.

Retiree Health: The Board directed ALPA’s Retirement and Insurance Department to continue its efforts to develop a member-paid retiree health program, to create a benefit bridge for pilots retiring at age 60 until they are eligible for Social Security coverage, and to report on these efforts to the October 2005 Executive Board.

Trans States Support: The Board reiterated the Association’s complete support for the Trans States pilots in their struggle to thwart management’s plans to create a nonunion, “alter-ego” airline, Go Jet, instead of allowing Trans States to grow and prosper. The Board voted to ask the Executive Council to consider “additional appropriate measures” if this dispute is not resolved in a satisfactory manner before the Executive Council’s next meeting.

Security: The Executive Board approved the National Security Committee Structure Review Committee’s recommended changes to the ALPA Administrative Manual. The National Security Committee will now consist of a chairman (whom ALPA’s President will appoint), and with the National Security Committee chairman’s appointment and the President’s approval, a vice-chairman, four division directors, and two operations division assistant directors. The changes establish a National Security Steering and Oversight Committee, made up of the chairman, vice-chairman, and the four division directors of the National Security Committee, the chairman of the Security Council, the National Officer coordinator, and the MEC chairman of the largest or second largest cargo carrier pilot group. The National Security Council is made up of one MEC Security Committee chairman/coordinator from each ALPA-represented pilot group. ALPA’s President will appoint an elected officer to serve as the National Security Committee’s national officer coordinator.

Contingency Fund Allocations: The Executive Board approved grants from the Operating Contingency Fund of $286,298 to the ExpressJet MEC account and of $451,035 to the Hawaiian MEC account to bring those pilots’ groups within their authorized spending limits after difficult contract bargaining. The Board also approved allocation from the Major Contingency Fund of as much as $2 million to the Polar Air Cargo pilot group for strike preparedness, communications, and family awareness programs to help the pilots achieve a new contract.

Finances: As a part of ALPA’s on-going reengineering initiatives, the Board amended policy to provide the Executive Council with flexibility to determine the appropriateness to fund the Major Contingency Fund from the 0.1 percent allotment of dues to the Administrative and Support Account. The allocation of dues income within the spending-limit process was clarified. The Executive Board established a reserve account within the A&S Account to allow surpluses to be carried over to fund projects and expenses as determined by the Executive Council. The Board also authorized the Executive Council to approve allocations to three separate funds within the Operating Contingency Fund--the Special Projects Fund, the MCF, and the Operating Fund.

The Board reduced the annual premium payments from the MCF to Kitty Hawk Insurance Company for professional insurance coverage to equal the cost to Kitty Hawk of its reinsurance premiums and approved reimbursements from the MCF to ALPA for net external defense costs associated with lawsuits under the ALPA-Kitty Hawk insurance agreements.

The Executive Board resolved that member financial obligations and information requests are all due “by the published date” and that payments remitted after such published date will result in late payment charges (to be determined by the Executive Council) applied to the member’s account. Dues estimates for members not on dues checkoff must be reasonable and accurate. The Vice-President-Finance/Treasurer will have the authority to review and reject unreasonable dues estimates, with an appeal provision to the Executive Council--these amendments to the Constitution and By-Laws require the approval of ALPA’s Board of Directors.

To insure the financial integrity of the MCF to meet the challenges of the MCF in the future, the Board increased the minimum balance of the MCF to $66 million, effective Jan. 1, 2006, with annual increases of at least $1 million each year until 2010, when the minimum balance will reach $70 million. These amendments to ALPA’s Constitution and By-Laws require BOD approval.

The Board amended general language for ALPA assessments to include “the ongoing costs of the assessment fund” to be charged to the assessment fund and establishing two forms of MEC assessments--as a percentage of income or as a flat rate for all members.

The Board added cell phone repair costs “up to $50 every three years” as reimbursable expenses for ALPA representatives.

Merger Policy: The Executive Board approved an option for MECs to expedite integration of seniority lists under ALPA’s merger policy, including shortening time periods, allowing negotiations and/or mediation-arbitration to begin during the processing of employment data, using a neutral facilitator from the outset, using a combined mediation-arbitration process rather than a separate negotiation process followed by mediation-arbitration, using a single neutral rather than an arbitration board, providing for less formal proceedings before the mediator-arbitrator rather than formal hearings, and limiting the participation of legal counsel in the mediation-arbitration process.

Local Council Meetings: The Board requested the ALPA President to charge the ALPA Special Representational Structural Review Committee to consider ways to improve member participation in local council activities to include, but not be limited to, electronic meeting attendance, electronic voting on local council resolutions, and other means to enhance member participation. The committee will provide recommendations to the October 2005 Executive Board for further discussion and direction.

Updating Policy Language: The Executive Board deleted certain paragraphs in the Administrative Manual that are obsolete or have already been relocated to Section 60 of the Manual.

To reflect ALPA’s current safety structure and activities, the Board updated ALPA safety policies in the Administrative Manual.