The Making of ALPA's Strategic Plan

By Barbara Gottshalk and Lydia Jakub, ALPA Strategic Planning & Resources Specialists

If the past few years have taught us anything as an organization, it’s the importance of ALPA leaders and staff having a robust strategic plan. This enables the Association to be agile and able to pivot and respond effectively whenever an opportunity or challenge arises while never losing sight of its overall goals.

One of the most visible examples of ALPA’s strategic plan in action is its response to the worldwide pandemic that wreaked havoc on the aviation industry. The Association quickly coordinated efforts, marshaled resources, and armed subject-matter experts to nimbly address issues and preserve pilot jobs, all while helping master executive councils (MECs) make contract gains and welcoming new pilot groups to ALPA’s ranks.

“The Association successfully weathered extraordinary events and made equally extraordinary progress in many key areas since 2019,” said Capt. Joe DePete, ALPA’s president, who also chairs the Strategic Planning Committee. “This was the result of a solid strategic plan that provided us with a vision of where we wanted to go and guided our collective actions toward what we wanted to achieve for all ALPA pilots.”

Evaluating the Process

Over the last two years, ALPA has revamped the way it conducts strategic planning at the national level and with MECs to further connect pilots with the process and ensure that they have full access to a myriad of resources.

Key to this effort was increasing collaboration within every level of the Association, making work more innovative and efficient. In addition, experienced members were added to the Strategic Planning Committee, and they reviewed the process with an outside vendor to incorporate applicable best practices.

These actions strengthened ALPA’s strategic planning process and provided a strong foundation for the Board of Directors (BOD) to build its strategic plan.

Developing a New Plan

During their meeting in October, BOD delegates were charged with ensuring that ALPA has an effective strategic plan for the next two years to safely lead members and the industry through the economic recovery. Participating in this process were the 201 elected status and seniority block representatives from all 101 local councils who make up ALPA’s highest governing body, the BOD.

The strategic plan agenda item was divided into eight sections and assigned to the delegate committee with its corresponding subject matter. Each delegate committee was composed of BOD members from MECs across the Association, ensuring that all ALPA pilots were represented. A chair and alternate, both of whom were BOD delegates, were appointed by the Executive Council to oversee and process the work of the committee. In addition, a facilitator was assigned to lead the strategic-planning discussion so that all delegates had a voice in the process.

In delegate committee, BOD members reviewed their portion of the strategic plan and engaged in lively discussions. Subject-matter experts, including ALPA committee chairs, were also available to answer questions and provide background information. Delegates revised the language as necessary then voted to bring it to the full BOD for further consideration.

Once all eight delegate committees completed their assigned work, the BOD came together as a group in plenary to review the full strategic plan agenda item.

Delegate committee chairs provided a brief overview of their discussions and highlighted any substantive amendments that were made to their section of the strategic plan. Afterward, the agenda item was brought to the floor for discussion.

The BOD voted unanimously to endorse the new strategic plan.

ALPA’s New Strategic Plan

The following goals and objectives in eight key areas will drive the Association’s work over the next two years.

Delegate Committee 1 examined Organizational Structure/Resources Management. Capt. Darryl Boon (Jazz Aviation) served as the chair of this committee, and Capt. Andrew Kinnear (Spirit) was its alternate.

Goal: Ensure the highest level of resource stewardship.

 #1: Allocate resources effectively, securely, and transparently.

 #2: Streamline logistics and operational efficiency.

 #3: Recruit and retain highly skilled and capable staff.

Delegate Committee 2 encompassed Pilot Representation. Capt. Sam Brennan (WestJet) served as the chair of this committee, and Capt. Chris Gill (Mesa) was its alternate.

Goal: Advance, enhance, and protect ALPA members’ professional careers and benefits.

 #1: Ensure a smooth transition from organizing to ALPA representation for new pilot groups joining ALPA.

 #2: Maintain and improve upon pilot contracts in the U.S. and Canada.

 #3: Enforce contractual rights and benefits.

 #4: Provide MECs with broader assistance in the retirement and insurance benefits arena.

 #5: Review and prioritize opportunities for growth in ALPA membership.

 #6: Maintain the highest levels of ALPA solidarity to achieve union goals.

Delegate Committee 3 focused on the Air Safety Organization & Regulatory Policy. F/O Sam Mason (Delta) served as the chair of this committee, and Capt. Scott Combest (United) was its alternate.

Goal: Attain, support, and continue to advocate the safest and most secure air transportation system for pilots, flight crews, passengers, and cargo.

 #1: Ensure at least two highly qualified, highly trained, and well-rested pilots are staffed on the flight deck at all times.

 #2: Achieve and maintain the safest and most secure operating environment.

 #3: Promote one level of safety and security for all cargo and passenger airline operations.

 #4: Promote an improved aircraft certification system that produces the safest possible aircraft.

 #5: Maximize and retain safe and secure access to the jumpseat.

 #6: Support the physical and emotional well-being of members in conjunction with a healthy operating environment.

 #7: Ensure two well-rested pilots are present on the flight deck for all cargo and passenger operations.

 #8: Continue to educate and participate with regulatory bodies and stakeholders to develop and implement strategies and practices to protect safety, security, and pilot well-being.

Delegate Committee 4 included Legal & Risk Management. Capt. Rich Zins (FedEx Express) served as the chair of this committee, and F/O Gary Holzinger (Frontier) was its alternate.

Goal: Protect and enforce the legal rights of ALPA, its members, and the piloting profession and manage risk to safeguard the Association’s assets and viability.

 #1: Provide effective legal services and expertise with respect to litigation and legal advice.

 #2: Employ appropriate risk-management strategies and practices.

Delegate Committee 5 looked at International Relations. F/O Sean Lee (Hawaiian) served as the chair of this committee, and Capt. David Forbes (Delta) was its alternate.

Goal: Continue ALPA’s advocacy efforts in the global environment.

 #1: Provide global leadership by promoting North America’s “gold standard” aviation safety and security policy.

 #2: Protect North American pilot careers through global engagement.

 #3: Support pilot interests worldwide.

Delegate Committee 6 assessed Member/Public Engagement. Capt. Tony Sandrolini (JetBlue) served as the chair of this committee, and Capt. James Harding (Wasaya) was its alternate.

Goal: Strengthen, protect, and advance ALPA’s priorities and reputation as the world’s leading voice for aviation safety/security, pilot representation, and the future of the profession.

 #1: Develop and execute strategic communications plans to advance pilot-partisan government policies.

 #2: Provide strategic communications advice and counsel to advance ALPA pilots’ careers and organizing opportunities.

 #3: Deploy strategic communications and innovative outreach methods to promote the profession and inspire the next generation of aviators.

Delegate Committee 7 involved Legislative/Regulatory & Government Affairs. F/O Todd Thursby (Kalitta Air) served as the chair of this committee, and Capt. Richard Harper (Delta) was its alternate.

Goal: Successfully advocate for sound government policies to benefit pilots.

 #1: Promote policies that support pilots’ livelihood and careers.

 #2: Advance policies that enrich aviation safety, security, and healthy air travel.

 #3: Promote and defend laws and regulations that are advantageous to ALPA’s collective bargaining and organizing efforts.

 #4: Amplify ALPA’s standing and visibility in Ottawa and Washington, D.C.

Delegate Committee 8 covered the Professional Development Group. Capt. Josh Kallet (United) served as the chair of this committee, and Capt. Daniel Krieger (Endeavor Air) was its alternate.

Goal: Enhance the professional development of current and future ALPA pilots by promoting, inspiring, and supporting an accessible and sustainable airline career.

 #1: Emphasize the value of ALPA membership to strengthen the connection and provide support among ALPA national, MEC officers, committees, and volunteers.

 #2: Promote diversity and inclusion strategies within ALPA, the piloting profession, and the aviation industry.

 #3: Enhance pilot volunteers’ effectiveness in carrying out union leadership roles and responsibilities.

 #4: Cultivate and empower the next generation of ALPA airline pilots by sparking interest in the profession, engaging influencers, and mentoring aspiring aviators.

This article was originally published in the December 2022 issue of Air Line Pilot.

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