ALPA 107th Executive Board Convenes

September 1, 2010 - ALPA’s Executive Board convened for its 107th regular meeting to conduct strategic planning and prepare for the Association’s biennial Board of Directors meeting, slated for this October. The first order of business was reports from the Association’s four national officers.

During the opening plenary session, ALPA president Capt. John Prater reviewed the union’s recent achievements. “As our nations approach the celebration marking Labor Day and the end of summer in the northern hemisphere, it’s hard to believe how much our union has accomplished and how many challenges have arisen since the Executive Board last met in May.”

Prater spoke at length about the successful five-day Spirit pilots’ strike and the tremendous outpouring of support from both ALPA and non-ALPA members. “Can there be any doubt as to the effectiveness of the ALPA International Strike Committee?” he said.

The ALPA president discussed the active bargaining season in Canada, with the new Jazz Air pilots contract, the Wasaya tentative agreement, and Air Transat’s 97 percent member support authorizing the MEC to declare a strike if and when the circumstances are appropriate. He also talked about the unprecedented number of merger proposals and the successful lobbying campaigns that produced recent pilot-friendly legislation.

“Through your collective action and your selfless efforts, our union is leading the profession, and we are building unity throughout our ranks,” he said. “We have more than 100 local councils and 38 master executive councils, but we all share one goal. We have one voice. And we are one union.”

Remaining Vigilant

ALPA first vice-president Capt. Paul Rice welcomed Executive Board members and told them about his son, Jordan, who recently became an American Eagle pilot. “My son began his airline career as something my dad, who retired from United in 1993 as a DC-10 captain, never became in nearly 35 years of airline flying—an international airline pilot. Jordan is based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and more than 90 percent of Eagle’s flying out of that base is international flying,” said Rice.

“I bring this up not just because I’m a proud father—which, of course, I am—but to emphasize how much the world has changed and, in many ways, has shrunk. Globalization of the airline industry continues unabated, and the ramifications for our members are many,” he said.

Rice talked about recent U.S./Chinese air service negotiations, the hardships at Mexicana Airlines, and potential changes to the pilot profession in North American if nothing is done to address the impending pilot shortage. The first vice-president warned that we could see efforts to undermine much of what the Association has fought tooth and nail to secure for our members if we don’t remain vigilant and engaged.

Putting Your Best Foot Forward

ALPA vice-president–Administration Capt. Bill Couette provided the Executive Board attendees with a rundown of the Association’s membership statistics. He also reviewed the many new service enhancements designed to aid both elected ALPA representatives and members.

These include the Association’s address-review utility, to help the union stay in touch with members and reduce costs; SharePoint enhancements that will give LEC officers more up-to-date information about their constituents; new iPhone applications for gathering ALPA information; a color-coded financial-standing website indicator, to aid members in maintaining their good standing; and a recently introduced digital version of Air Line Pilot magazine to make Association news and events more accessible.

In his concluding comments, Couette recalled a recent experience in which he saw an ALPA member, asked by a passenger for assistance, respond that he was “just a pilot.” Couette said, “Whether you’re dodging thunderstorms, sitting with your chief pilot to address a grievance, or speaking to a classroom full of kids on Career Day, never sell yourself short.” He added, “Take pride in what you do and let it show; we’ll all reap the rewards if you do.”

Striking a Balance

When it was his turn to address the Executive Board, ALPA vice-president–Finance Capt. Randy Helling spoke about balance. “As your national officer who is responsible for the Association’s budget, it’s that accounting definition of balance that really comes into play when, as a union, we must deal with the pressing demands of today and plan for our financial future to ensure we can meet the unknown challenges of tomorrow,” said Helling.

ALPA’s financial vice president noted, “As the representatives for 38 pilot groups, you—the members of ALPA’s Executive Board—must balance the specific needs and objectives of your pilots with the financial resources available to support those needs. And I’m proud to say that your efforts and your discipline over the years have helped us maintain the equilibrium that is so vital to ALPA’s future.”

In the afternoon, ALPA’s Executive Board plenary resumed with a presentation on the Association’s participation with an FAA Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC), tasked with assessing qualification standards and competencies needed for new FAR Part 121 first officers. ALPA executive air safety chairman Capt. Rory Kay (United), Human Factors and Training (HFT) Group chairman Capt. Chuck Hogeman (United), and HFT member F/O Leja Noe (Mesa) talked about the fundamental changes brought about by the recently enacted H.R. 5900, the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010. They explained how ARC participants, including ALPA representatives, are working together to determine appropriate criteria for hiring new airline pilots.

Executive Pilot Assistance chairman Capt. Jerry McDermott (Continental) provided Executive Board meeting attendees with an overview of his committee’s five disciplines—Aeromedical, Canadian Pilot Assistance, the Critical Incident Response Program, the Human Intervention and Motivation Study (HIMS), and Professional Standards—and the elaborate network of services they provide to ALPA pilots.

The Board members then acted on several agenda items before adjourning to their respective committees to conduct strategic planning in preparation for the October Board of Directors meeting.