Air Line Pilot, November/December 2001

President's Forum: Staying on Course

Duane Woerth, ALPA President In the midst of all the personal and professional crises we face after the terrorist attacks on September 11, losing sight of ALPA’s long-term strategies and goals is a concern. But that would be a mistake with long-term consequences. We must stay on course.

We have worked toward a goal of one pilot union with a unified voice for too long to allow our path to stray too far. A single union for pilots in the United States was Dave Behncke’s vision for ALPA in 1931. With the addition to ALPA of the pilots who fly for many airlines in Canada and the pilots of Continental and Continental Express, we have made significant progress toward that original goal and have expanded its scope beyond national boundaries. We are now in discussions with pilots of FedEx about their return to ALPA, and I hope they will soon elect to do so.

Whether we face good or bad economic conditions, we must continue to solidify and unify our economic power and political clout. Coalition building, both internal and external, must continue unabated. We are still working for one union, one level of safety, one level of compensation, and one level of security in everything we do.

Our course, however, is not without turbulence. Airlines are trying to use their current dire economic condition to reduce our hard-won contracts to the lowest common denominator. One of the wedges they try to drive between us is the disparity of pilot compensation and work rule costs between large and small carriers. Our internal problems with scope will be resolved when we narrow all the gaps in pilot compensation. We must not lose the momentum we gained following the Comair strike and the Air Wisconsin contract.

Our Bilateral Scope Impact Committee reported to the recent Executive Board, which created joint standing committees among pilot group alliance and code-share partners to help large and small pilot groups raise contract standards and work together toward our common goals. This is a big step in the right direction.

We continue to fight for adequate regulations on flight time, duty time, and required rest. This issue remains one of our top objectives. We investigate airline accidents to determine causes and, hopefully, avoid future losses. We help pilot groups with their representation needs. We walk the halls of Congress to advocate for pilots and thwart attempts to legislate matters not in our best interests. We counter global airline cooperation through our own interlinked pilot group alliances. We remain vigilant as the World Trade Organization continues to propose international agreements that might adversely affect our profession by placing air rights under the WTO.

We remain steadfastly opposed to so-called "fast track" legislation in the United States, which, under the guise of free-trade agreements and false patriotism, may expose aviation in North America to cabotage and increased foreign ownership of airlines in the United States and Canada. We continue to champion ATC modernization and the use of the ticket tax to improve airport infrastructure.

Both historically and recently, ALPA has made huge strides on behalf of airline pilots, the piloting profession, and the industry. We succeeded in these endeavors because we stayed on course. We still have more work to do.

s/Duane E. Woerth