Change Where Change Makes Sense

By Capt. Wes Clapper, ALPA Vice President–Finance/Treasurer

Like many of you, I have a variety of interests outside of flying. Being a Washington state native, I have a love for the Seattle Mariners and am a fan of the Gonzaga University basketball team—go Zags!

Growing up in central Washington, you could find me either roaming through the Cascade Mountains or at one of the country’s most beautiful concert venues, the Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Wash.

But as fun as those activities are, nothing gets my blood pumping as much as when I’m with my own kind, poring over financial spreadsheets, digging into a budget, and exploring new policies and procedures.

Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but I truly do love the numbers side of ALPA and proudly call myself a finance geek.

In this issue, you’ll read about ALPA’s annual Secretary-Treasurers Conference, which I cohosted with Capt. Sean Creed, your vice president–administration/secretary, in March.

I really enjoy my role helping to lead this conference. My initial entry into volunteering at ALPA was as a secretary-treasurer, so I’m well acquainted with the responsibilities of the position. I’m extremely aware of the immense importance of these volunteers as well, and I want to thank each and every secretary-treasurer for their service.

I firmly believe that master executive council (MEC) and local council secretary-treasurers (plus the secretaries and treasurers at those pilot groups who have split the roles) are the unsung heroes of ALPA. It can be a difficult and thankless job. They work in the shadows, must know ALPA policy backward and forward, and are constantly on alert to ensure your pilot groups are spending your dues dollars responsibly.

As I’ve mentioned before, one of my goals is to use my experience from being a JetBlue secretary-treasurer to address areas of ALPA policy that need updating or altering. My position as chair of the Structure, Services, and Finance Review (SSAFR) Committee has provided me with just this opportunity.

Our general philosophy has been to explore change, but not simply for the sake of change. We want to explore change where change makes sense. We’ve put policies in place to provide more resources to our pilot groups, make it easier for your leaders to access the money in their budgets, and bring some of the limits and restrictions out of the 1980s and into today’s world. The aim is to make ALPA work better for our members, and almost everything is on the table.

As you’ve hopefully seen, “everything” includes a first-of-its-kind, across-the-board offer of return of dues. I’m proud to say that the background work on this dues refund originated with the SSAFR Committee, and we’ll continue our work and focus on the immense responsibility of being accountable for our members’ dues dollars.

And this is a responsibility I take very seriously. It’s a responsibility every single person at our Secretary-Treasurers Conferences takes seriously. And it’s a responsibility that your elected leaders and volunteers take seriously as well.

Each year at the conference our goal is to provide elected secretary-treasurers with the information they need to perform their duties. We want to empower them to make the relevant decisions within ALPA policy for their pilot groups regarding financial and administrative matters. To help do this, we enlist the “Crew Room Test.”

Volunteers can always reach out to me, their fellow volunteers, or the amazing ALPA staff at any time for advice, but the Crew Room Test provides them with a simple baseline in a decision where policy is “grey.”

Simply put, Can you stand in a crew room with your fellow pilots and justify the decision you’re making?

I’ll stand in any crew room and explain the decisions we’ve made as a national officer team and through ALPA’s Governing Bodies. I believe we’ve made a tremendous impact on the ability of ALPA and our pilot group leaders to serve our members, and I’m excited to continue this work as your vice president–finance/treasurer.

I’m a sports and everything outdoors fan, a family man, and a finance geek. And I’m a proud ALPA member.

This article was originally published in the May 2024 issue of Air Line Pilot.

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