New Topic for USAirways Pilots


Aircooled By T2
Dec 8, 2008
Total Time
Open letter:

Op/Ed Hosted by Unbiased Facts
August 12, 2009

An Easy Mark For The Boys in Phoenix

By Guest Writer Captain Chris Beebe

For years I have watched our pilot group run wild on rumor and innuendo. Unfortunately, the
emotional appeal of using rumor instead of fact is so prevalent that the truth has little chance.
Nevertheless, I will address again only those issues in which I can personally stipulate to the

After the concessionary contract ratifications at USAirways, I was being paid as a group
2 captain. I chose that position because it was what I could hold, even though I was entitled by
resolution of the Board of Directors, to be paid as a group 1 captain. Also, by resolution of the
Board of Directors, I was entitled to the pay rate I had on January 1, 2003. I voluntarily took the
LOA 93 pay cut along with every other pilot at USAirways. I stayed at that rate until I could hold
group 1 captain at which time I was voluntarily paid at the concessionary group 1 rate. Just to
round out the allegations of the rumor mill, I did not get an ALPA pension. I got what all the rest
of us got, PC3 and working until I die. It might interest you to know that Paul Rice, the
Secretary, and Dennis Dolan, 1st Vice-President, did exactly the same, again, even though the
Board of Directors voted to pay all of us as though no concessions took place. In regard to the
President, he is entitled to the average of the highest three ALPA carriers. Duane Woerth
voluntarily went to the pay consistent with his seniority at Northwest. Contrary to your
statement, and I would like to know your source because it is dead wrong, all four officers did
just what I have stated.

As a side note, ALPA also elected, as a resolution that was brought by me, to publish the
National Officers' pay and it was posted to the website for all members to see. Very
few took the time to look because it was so much easier to avoid confusion by avoiding or
ignoring the facts. MEC's were encouraged to do the same but it was left to their discretion to do
so. I would hope that USAPA will publish their FPL numbers.

As for the pilots with the highest W-2 getting to change the Merger Policy, when that happened
in 1990-1991, we were still very much at the top of the pay scales. And, it was the USAir MEC
that got the bias for date of hire into the policy in the mid 80's prior to the PSA and Piedmont
transactions. It had little to do with W-2 but a lot to do with fears at United and others at the time
(aided and abetted by many who felt their ox had been gored in the Kagel decision). Do you
think UAL would like date of hire today? That's why they introduced it at the Executive Board a
year ago.

The TWA guys, as much as they may want to change history voted to abrogate their own
seniority in the American transaction. They did so because they felt they had a gun to their
collective head and could take a bad deal or no deal. Sound familiar?

The issue of seniority at PanAm/Delta was not an ALPA national issue but one of dispute
between the individual MEC's. And as far as help to our pilot group, we got about $3M over
about 3 years for various efforts ranging from contract enforcement to picketing, to
communications. I do not think our MEC was ever turned down for help of a financial kind. And
this is where I want to shift gears because all of this is like pissing into the wind because no
matter how much you put the truth out there, our group believes what they want and uses
whatever rumor is around to validate their position. Nevertheless, here goes, again.

ALPA is very different from any other union. Here's how; ALPA is a decentralized form of
governance. That is because the member MEC's and pilot groups insist on their own autonomy in
making decisions and retaining their independence of the national. They have that authority
under the constitution and by-laws and just as you might want the president to break that rule, he
can not, under penalty of law. If he chose to enter that fight, as you suggest he should, both
MEC's and both pilot groups, I would add, would have told him not so politely to mind his own
business and butt out, again under penalty of law. As another side note, when a labor union, or a
corporation for that matter, violates those rules, it is a federal offense. So you can not simply ad
lib as you go. You must follow the rules or go to jail. That's why I have to laugh when one of our
luminaries comes up with the accusation that an ALPA rep cut their own deal for their own
benefit. You do what is in the best interests of the group you represent or face the

Another difference of ALPA is that ALPA officers remain members of their pilot group. At a
union like the Teamsters, and maybe every other labor union in the US, officers are employees of
the union. They are entitled to whatever pay their board decides, they get a union pension, and
union benefits. Think of the Negotiating Committee, or the NAC, being employees of the
international as opposed to members of our own pilot group. Gee, maybe we could call them
professional negotiators. The founding fathers of ALPA decided, in 1931, that their officers both
national and MEC would remain tied to their carrier and not be employees of ALPA. This was
revised in 1934 to make the president the only pilot to be an ALPA employee in order to remove
him from the influence of his own airline and make it easier to govern all of the ALPA carriers.
That continues today and the philosophy of remaining tied to your own airline is what gave rise
to the many seminars, schools, and conferences ALPA provides (over 100 in all) to assist the
member pilot groups in providing expertise in all their areas of safety, contract, legal, etc.
Provide the education for each group to conduct their business.

My opinion? ALPA is gone because ALPA had baggage (some real, most rumored), our pilot
group needed someone to blame (certainly we could not be blamed for our own ineptitude and
poor judgment), and USAPA offered a sliver of hope while ALPA offered none. Unfortunately,
the hope presented by USAPA is nothing more than illusion, and in time they also will have their
own baggage to bear. The paradox and irony of a fresh start as a union being run by pretty much
the same old gang is not lost on me. So, you are certainly free to make your own decision but
please use facts and if someone can not verify what they tell you, you should give them no

Is ALPA perfect? Absolutely not. And the level of perfection or flaw fluctuates as various issues
affect the individual pilot. I have told the governing bodies at ALPA that they must decide to be
a union or a federation because they have been much more of the latter. Just as I have told them
that the US Airways pilots, both East and West, will not return to the ALPA they left. But, are
the Teamsters, or the TWU, or the IAM better representative of pilots? Hopefully we will have

that choice before we all drown under the weight of inferior pay, benefits, and infighting that
makes us an easy mark for the boys in Phoenix.


Chris Beebe

Unbiased Facts can send you an email notice of additions to the Unbiased Facts web site. To subscribe to
this service, send an email to and state subscribe in the subject line. To
unsubscribe, state unsubscribe in the subject line. If you have an article or “Quick Fact” you think should
be published by Unbiased Facts, submit it to Check for updates often.


broke, and getting worse.
Feb 26, 2004
Total Time
A union is as good as its members and elected officials. Without true leadership, vision, and accountability, a union is nothing more than a false sense of, well, UNITY.....


Well-known member
Jan 9, 2005
Total Time
Chris - thank you for posting so publicly. Not to thread creep- but I'd like to ask one question that is probably most responsible for the division and lack of unity in ALPA- scope.

Considering the nature of seniority and how we start completely over at the bottom when we change companies- how did we let outsourcing become so prevalent? Why wasn't there a more serious push for mainline pilots to fly those jets? And it seems that ALPA MECs continue to get that one wrong- releasing scope ever further ie DALPA 2006 allowing 86 seaters-

Why was it hard to say- we aren't managers- we won't say what you want us to fly- don't care if it's gliders- but our seniority system doesn't work if our pilots don't fly the planes that carry our passengers.

Codeshares are one thing. Planes painted in company colors are another.