A PAL Aerospace de Havilland Force Multiplier™ DHC 8-315. Photo courtesy of PAL Aerospace
Conducting airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance services; executive charters; and air ambulance, conservation, protection, and search-and-rescue flights in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Caribbean, PAL Aerospace is a diverse and unique company.
After the pilot group joined ALPA in 2020, it became clear that PAL Aerospace’s diverse operations would make negotiating a first contract significantly more complicated than negotiating for a more traditional passenger or cargo carrier.
In 2022, after a year and a half of negotiations, little progress had been made at the bargaining table. As the negotiations process moved at a slow pace throughout the COVID pandemic, the pilots, with guidance from ALPA’s Representation Department, continued to work behind the scenes while reiterating their request to management for analytical data and any other pertinent information required to move negotiations forward.
While waiting to receive this information, the pilot group’s Negotiating Committee continued its work incorporating language into proposals that would ensure the best and safest working conditions possible for the pilot group. The pilots also continued to push for additional negotiating dates. Negotiators for the pilot group and management set a tentative schedule for multiday meetings for each month from January through June that included in-person meetings for the first time. Management also began providing the requested financial documentation.
With progress being made on the negotiations front, the pilots were optimistic that the company was taking contract negotiations as seriously as they were. However, pilot concerns regarding the direction the MEC was taking negotiations peaked in April, leading the pilot group to hold its first in-person meeting since joining ALPA.
The meeting provided an opportunity to discuss these concerns openly and for members of both the MEC and Negotiating Committee to address bargaining strategy, the MEC’s negotiating efforts, and the work of committee volunteers. However, for some, the primary goal of the meeting was to deal with a notice of motion to hold a recall vote of the MEC chair/captain representative and the secretary-treasurer. A recall vote was subsequently held, and by late summer, Capt. Stephen Young was elected the pilot group’s new MEC chair.
“As we continue to learn and to grow within ALPA’s ranks, we’re focusing on solidifying our pilot group unity and reinforcing that we must remain committed to the objective of reaching and ratifying a fair first collective agreement,” said Young. “The only way this works is to show management that we as PAL Aerospace pilots are all on the same team and that when we work together we all win.”
Toward the end of the year, the tone of communication and the pace of negotiations continued to improve. Despite tentative agreements on a variety of contract sections, the pilot group is prepared for the later stages of the negotiation process dealing with larger and more complex issues such as scheduling and compensation to progress more slowly. The pilots remain committed to achieving the best possible agreement.
In late October, the parties resumed in-person negotiations. Committee members continue to meet weekly to revise documents in preparation for the next round of bargaining.