United Pilots
Hundreds of ALPA pilots in Chicago, Ill., including Capt. Jason Ambrosi, ALPA’s president, and Capt. Garth Thompson, the United Master Executive Council chair, join more than 3,000 United pilots for their all-base picket on May 12, 2023. Photo: Capt. Michael Morgen (United)

At A Glance

Pilots joined ALPA: 1932

Number of pilots/flightcrew members: 16,800

Pilot bases: Chicago, Ill.; Cleveland, Ohio; Denver, Colo.; Houston, Tex.; Los Angeles and San Francisco, Calif.; New York, N.Y.; Washington, D.C.; Orlando, Fla.; Las Vegas, Nev.; and Guam

Headquarters: Chicago, Ill.

Operations: United operates roughly 4,500 daily flights to more than 300 cities across five continents.

Fleet: A319s, A320s, A321s, B-737s, B-757s, B-767s, B-777s, and B-787s

In January 2023, the United Master Executive Council (MEC) elected Capt. Garth Thompson MEC chair by a unanimous 19–0 vote. It also successfully reengaged United pilots by employing various approaches, including transparent communications, polling, surveys, and family awareness events, which contributed to enhanced cohesion and participation from its members.

One of the most noteworthy accomplishments was orchestrating the largest simultaneous nationwide picket in ALPA history on May 12, 2023. Led by the United MEC Strategic Preparedness and Strike Committee, thousands of United pilots in 10 cities demonstrated their collective support, strength, and solidarity for the Negotiating Committee. Meanwhile, the Negotiating Committee and ALPA staff undertook an intensive meeting schedule with United management to execute on the MEC’s bargaining strategy and raise the bar recently set by other ALPA pilot groups.

On September 29, these collaborative efforts resulted in attaining and ratifying an industry-leading collective bargaining agreement. This groundbreaking contract was approved by 82 percent of the pilots who participated in the ratification ballot and is valued at more than $10 billion. The agreement not only secures United pilots substantial benefits, but also positions them as a benchmark for the industry, setting a new standard for pilot contracts.

The challenges facing United pilots in 2024 include contract implementation and enforcement, insisting and ensuring that they receive fair and respectful treatment in the workplace, making certain that all new and current pilots are highly trained and maintain one level of safety, being thoroughly knowledgeable about ALPA and the many functions it serves, welcoming and training new ALPA volunteers, strategic planning for opportunities arising from United Airlines’ ambitious growth plans, and managing external factors such as conflicts abroad.

A United aircraft soars above the Golden Gate Bridge. Photo: Unsplash