Amerijet International

Alaska Pilots
F/O Carlos Gutierrez, left, and Capt. Steven Mathis, the pilots’ Master Executive Council chair, in Liege, Belgium. (Photo: Photo by FO Aldo Torre [Amerijet])

January 2021 kicked off a busy year for the newly represented Amerijet International Airlines pilots. With the National Mediation Board certifying ALPA as the pilots’ bargaining representative in October 2020, the pilot group’s Master Executive Council (MEC) entered the year undertaking strategic planning, electing permanent status reps and MEC officers, establishing its committee structure, and beginning Section 6 contract negotiations.

The interim MEC met with ALPA staff from the Communications, Economic & Financial Analysis, and Representation Departments to draft a strategic plan to guide the interim pilot leaders and provide a road map for the permanent MEC once elected and installed.

“We completed a SWOT [strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats] analysis and learned about the resources ALPA membership affords our pilots and discussed action items that needed to be taken within 30, 60 and 90 days,” said Capt. Tim Millar, then interim MEC chair and the current MEC executive administrator. “This was a preliminary meeting during which we established our goals and objectives to staff a functioning MEC committee structure and begin negotiations in earnest.”

While the interim MEC worked to institute a robust committee structure, the team was also busy making working conditions better for the pilot group. In March, the first agreement between Amerijet, the FAA, and ALPA was signed to establish an Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP). “ASAP allows us to greatly enhance the safety of our operation and revamp our culture toward addressing potential safety-related issues before they become incidents or accidents,” said Millar. “The MEC applauds this step in forging a positive and collaborative relationship between the company and ALPA that will enhance the safety practices at our airline.”

Also in March, the pilots elected Capt. Steven Mathis as captain representative and MEC chair, Capt. Noor Yoosufani as first officer representative and MEC vice chair, and Capt. Jose Velasquez as MEC secretary-treasurer.

“We’re energized about moving our pilots into the future with the professional representation that only ALPA can provide,” said Mathis. “Our goal is to achieve a collective bargaining agreement that both reflects the growth of our airline’s operation and recognizes the contributions of our pilot group to its success.

“Our pilots deserve an agreement that rewards the efforts we’ve made and our continued commitment to the success of Amerijet,” Mathis observed. “There are still a lot of moving parts to make this happen and a lot of work still to be done, but as a unified group we can achieve our goals and build Amerijet into a workplace that we can all be proud of.”

Contract negotiations kicked off in earnest in April with robust discussion and development of a protocol agreement, with both sides meeting at least twice a month throughout the summer and fall. “We look forward to improving our collective bargaining agreement and enhancing the work rules and quality of life for Amerijet pilots,” said Capt. Mark Crawford, the pilots’ MEC Negotiating Committee chair.

“We’re pleased that both parties brought a positive working relationship to the start of Section 6 negotiations,” Crawford added, “and we feel confident that it will continue as we move forward.”

Along with strategic planning and negotiations prep, the MEC also undertook the monumental task of implementing an online dispute tracking system to make filing and processing disputes easier for the pilot group.

“We’ve had a very busy year,” said Mathis, “and we look forward to even bigger changes in 2022 as we work with our management counterparts on achieving long-overdue contractual gains for Amerijet pilots.”