A Western Global MD-11F on the ramp at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. Photo: F/O Greg Pinckney (Western Global)
It was an incredibly busy year for the Western Global Airlines pilots after the National Mediation Board certified ALPA as the bargaining representative for the pilot group on April 6, 2021. The interim Master Executive Council (MEC) officers spent the second quarter of 2021 building the MEC infrastructure to best support the immediate needs of their pilots by seeking/appointing volunteers to various committees, conducting an extensive membership drive, participating in leadership training, negotiating an Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) memorandum of understanding (MOU), and launching both weekly and time-sensitive pilot communications.
In the last half of 2021, a nomination and election campaign for permanent offices was conducted, and the interim status reps/officers, F/O Greg Pinckney, MEC chair; Capt. Josh Rowe, MEC vice chair; and F/O Laddie Diaz, secretary-treasurer, were installed as permanent status reps/officers in November for the term ending Feb. 29, 2024. The MEC’s Negotiating Committee conducted a pilot survey and developed a strategic communications plan to support contract negotiations that began in October.
“The support that ALPA offers is phenomenal,” said Pinckney. “Literally from day one we received calls from pilot leaders at Air Transport International, FedEx Express, Mesa, Spirit, United, and others, all pledging support and asking us how they could help. These allegiances of small, medium, and major airlines totaling 62,000-plus members show me daily that ALPA pilots truly do want to help one another. This active engagement in the Association also demonstrates leadership and a true passion for the profession, and Western Global pilots are proud to be members of this union.”
During the first meeting with pilot leaders and management in May, management agreed to work with the pilot group to incorporate ALPA as a party in the ASAP. By joining the ASAP MOU, along with management and the FAA, ALPA has a seat on the Event Review Committee, which reviews ASAP reports and informs the pilots about safety trends at the airline.
“With the guidance of ALPA, and the support of the FAA, we now have full confidence in the ASAP, which we encourage all Western Global pilots to participate in,” Pinckney remarked. “With ALPA’s changes to and inclusion in the newly restructured ASAP, this important program now has the proper oversight to truly make it an apolitical, impartial, and anonymous tool for safe operations at this airline.”
In October, the MEC’s Negotiating Committee sent a notice to bargain to Western Global management, and in November the committee launched an education campaign to prepare the pilots for the process. Guided by the slogan “For Our Safety and Our Future, IT’S TIME!” the Negotiating Committee is poised to negotiate its first collective bargaining agreement.
“After a grueling and contentious representation election process, we’re pleased to report that management echoed our goals for an efficient negotiations process to reach a contract that recognizes the contributions of the pilot group to Western Global’s success and positions the airline for future growth,” said Rowe, who’s also a member of the Negotiating Committee.
The pilots entered 2022 with optimism that with ALPA’s vast resources and support, they look to achieve the wages, work rules, and quality-of-life improvements that they’ve earned and deserve.
Western Global Airlines is an all-cargo aircraft, crew, maintenance, and insurance and charter carrier that began operations seven years ago. Its freighter fleet of MD-11s and B-747-400Fs is solely based in Estero Park, Fla., and the pilots were previously unrepresented.