ALPA’s 105th Executive Board Meeting Begins
Remembering our Mission

October 27, 2009 - Voicing new optimism and a renewed commitment to advancing the airline piloting profession, chairmen from ALPA’s 36 pilot groups joined with other Association leaders in Reston, Va. to convene ALPA’s 105th Executive Board meeting.

The focus of this two-day meeting, which is held twice a year in the spring and fall, is to review the progress of the strategic plan ALPA’s Board of Directors ratified in 2008 and to make decisions on key strategic initiatives going forward, including the Association’s response to what’s likely to be sweeping changes in decades-old flight-time and duty-time regulations and minimum rest requirements.

MEC Chairmen and ALPA’s national officers and executive vice-presidents will also consider how best to strengthen professional development of airline pilots, discuss ALPA’s relationship with the National Mediation Board and the Railway Labor Act, and were briefed on the Association’s 2010 budget.

“We’re here to trumpet our successes and address several of the top priorities in the strategic plan,” said ALPA President Capt. John Prater. “This year, perhaps more than in years past, ALPA has provided the voice for the profession on many aviation safety fronts.” (Click here to read/watch Prater’s remarks.)

ALPA First Vice-President Capt. Paul Rice updated attendees on ALPA’s efforts in the international arena, including fatigue reform and opposition to foreign cabotage. He said ALPA’s influence is catapulting the Association to a new position of national and international leadership. (Click here to read/watch Rice’s remarks.)

The Association is embracing new technology and making its website and voting procedures more user-friendly to enhance members’ experiences, explained Vice-President for Administration Bill Couette. After experiencing membership declines for several years, ALPA’s member numbers increased to more than 53,000 in 2009 with the addition of the AirTran and Colgan pilot groups. However, the number of furloughees increased as well, to almost 3,400 members.  (Click here to read/watch Couette’s remarks.)

ALPA has also pulled out of its 2008 financial freefall, achieving its financial targets and actually building a small budget surplus in 2009. Vice-President for Finance Capt. Randy Helling urged the MEC chairmen to continue living within their means and encouraged them to begin rebuilding their individual financial reserves, as ALPA continues to do. (Click here to read/watch Capt. Helling’s video.)

The morning session concluded with Capt. John Sluys (ALA), an ALPA EVP and National Membership Committee Chairman, explaining the work of the Association’s new Professional Development Group (PDG). Just as several ALPA programs were combined into the Pilot Assistance Committee, the PDG will meld the Membership, Education, and Leadership committees—along with communications support for internal and external organizing—to create a coordinated program to affect pilots’ professional lives from high school all the way into their future roles as ALPA leaders.

ALPA Executive Board Hears from NMB Members

During the Tuesday afternoon plenary session, ALPA’s Executive Board welcomed members of the National Mediation Board (NMB), the independent U.S. agency that coordinates labor relations for the airline and railroad industries. ALPA president Capt. John Prater introduced the three members, while ALPA First Vice-President Capt. Paul Rice reminded the MEC chairmen and other meeting attendees that the negotiation and enforcement of ALPA contracts is a top priority identified in the Association’s strategic plan.

“First of all, we come in peace,” humorously commented NMB member Linda Puchala, who spoke about collective bargaining “on the macro level.” The former flight attendant union president and senior mediator talked about her participation as part of the Obama Administration’s NMB transition team, along with former ALPA Representation Director Seth Rosen, which reviewed union and industry frustration with the working of the NMB and its administration of the RLA under the Bush White House.

NMB member Harry Hoglander, a former ALPA executive vice-president and TWA MEC chairman, urged pilots to work hard to resolve issues before bringing cases to the NMB.

“It’s impossible for the Board to move cases efficiently if you enter mediation with 256 unsettled items. Don’t come with a parcel full of stuff that as professionals you should do.”

NMB chairwoman Elizabeth Dougherty briefed ALPA’s Executive Board on the challenges confronting the NMB’s mediation efforts, noting that there are currently 78 open mediation cases. She pointed out that the NMB addresses labor concerns for more than 100 airlines as well as 670 railroads in the U.S. Both Dougherty and Hoglander encouraged pilots, when seeking assistance, to limit the number of open issues for mediation, to expedite the process. She also welcomed the opportunity to hear from pilot leadership at carriers in mediation or even before.

Following a brief question-and-answer session with the NMB members, ALPA’s Executive Board went into closed session to discuss collective bargaining and contract enforcement work progress under ALPA’s Strategic Plan; merits and limitations of the Railway Labor Act; additional steps the Union could take to advance negotiations and contract enforcement; and to hear related briefings including a legal update and a report from the Flight-Time/Duty-Time period Aviation Rulemaking Committee.