Prater Issues State of the Union Address
“As we gather this morning for the 100th meeting of the ALPA Executive Board, I want to take stock of our union, our profession, and our work together over the past nine months,” ALPA President John Prater said. “I want to discuss how far we have come since January - and how far we have to go.”
Prater read the vision statement that was developed by the Executive Council in January and ticked through the accomplishments of the union in light of its ambitious call to action. He reflected on his meetings with hundreds of pilots he has met at road shows throughout the United States and Canada. He saluted the recent activities of the reinforced Collective Bargaining Committee and the national Strategic Preparedness and Strike Committee, noting that ALPA pilots continue to support each other “at rallies, informational picketing lines, and family awareness events.”
“We’re working tirelessly to organize all pilots,” said Prater, during his opening remarks. Prater highlighted recent organizing victories at Capital Air Cargo and Evergreen. The Board formally approved the merger of ALPA and the Evergreen pilot union, whose pilots voted to join ALPA by 91 percent. Prater pointed out contract improvements for a variety of ALPA pilot groups, particularly the recent tentative agreement at Atlantic Southeast Airlines. He also discussed the current challenges facing the US Airways pilots as they struggle to merge with the pilots of America West and negotiate a new agreement.
Prater also highlighted strides made to ease pilots through security screening and successful efforts to ensure that any mandatory retirement age change will incorporate ALPA’s priorities.
Prater closed his remarks by stressing the need for member unity: “Between now and the next time we meet in May, we will continue to press our ‘Takin’ it Back’ agenda for every pilot group. We will work across all lines, all brands, and all groups to fix our contracts and take it back. We’ll continue to push our legislative agenda to take the issues we have in the Congress and Parliament to bring them home.”
ALPA National Officers Discuss Association “Big Picture”
ALPA’s first vice-president, Capt. Paul Rice, addressing the Association’s Executive Board during the first day of its 100th regular meeting, talked about global pilot issues and the potential influence on ALPA members of decisions and events abroad. He highlighted the terms of the U.S./European Union open-skies agreement, which takes effect in March 2008, and examined multi-pilot licensing, greenhouse gas limitations, wet leasing, and a host of other current topics as they are being addressed by foreign governments and the International Civil Aviation Organization.
Rice talked about his dual role as deputy vice president of the International Federation of Air Line Pilots Associations and the many challenges to the profession he continues to see overseas, particularly the criminal liability of pilots involved in accidents or serious incidents. “Punishment—whether for commercial or civil [pilots]—is not the way forward to a safer air system,” he said.
The first vice-president also discussed his involvement with the ALPA International Affairs Committee and the Collective Bargaining Committee, and the difficult decisions facing the US Airways pilots, noting that the Association’s goal for the latter is to find “consensual approaches.”
ALPA’s vice-president—Administration/Secretary, Capt. Bill Couette, briefed the Executive Board on the Association’s membership figures and amendments to ALPA Membership policy. Couette made a personal plea to encourage ALPA members to forget about individual titles and distinctions, and to think of pilots simply as fellow ALPA members.
“It should no longer be regional versus mainline, passenger versus cargo, or us versus them,” he said. “It must be all of us focusing on our profession and restoring the respect that we deserve.”
“We’re beginning to see some improvements in the financial status of the Association,” Capt. Chris Beebe, ALPA’s vice-president—Finance/Treasurer, told Executive Board members. Beebe said that contract improvements and pilot hiring have led to better projections for 2008.
The vice-president of Finance reviewed the status of the Association’s Major Contingency Funds and Operating Contingency Funds, and talked about the performance of the Kitty Hawk Insurance company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of ALPA. Beebe also reviewed initiatives to ensure the Association’s continued financial stability.
On a final note, Beebe said that ALPA’s forefathers, in 1931, debated what to label their newly created organization. He noted that although they chose to call this group an Association, we must never forget that we are, first and foremost, a union.
ALPA Executive Board Honors One of Its Own
Capt. Darryl Snider, former ALPA executive vice president and Northwest pilot, was remembered with an emotional and touching ceremony during the first day, October 23, of the 100th regular meeting of the ALPA Executive Board.
Capt. Mark McClain (Northwest), Capt. Dave Smith (United), and Capt. Kim Snider (US Airways) all shared fond memories of the active pilot leader who passed away on March 4. McClain talked about his 25 years of friendship and hard work with Darryl, who was noted for his causal, beach attire and easy-going personality.
McClain said Darryl “never shied away from work” and was responsible for many accomplishments including the tedious, time-consuming task of writing the Northwest pilots’ MEC policy manual.
“He taught all of us about unionism and strong stands,” said Smith who described Darryl as a “mentor.”
Kim Snider, Darryl’s brother, talked about the legacy of the Snider family, noting that six Snider brothers and their father were all pilots and union activists. Kim said that Darryl understood the difference between “what’s necessary versus what’s popular,” adding “I miss him a lot.”
These personal testimonials were followed by a brief video showcasing Darryl’s love of life and the presentation of a commemorative plaque, presented by ALPA President Capt. John Prater, to Darryl’s wife, Felesha, and their three children.
“Darryl made a difference,” she said. “Thank you for having us here today.”