What is the Purpose of Airline Pilot Unions?

Eagle757shark

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Folks I've been in the airline industry a good spell. At AirTran the pilots are looking at possibly switching unions. I'm starting this thread to get a perspective of what pilots feel the purpose of a union is. I will lead off with a few questions.

1. Do we think the purpose of a union is to only negotiate a new pay rate for us every three to four years?

2. Is the purpose of a union to get you out of trouble when a mistake is made?

3. Is the purpose of a union to ensure pilots are allowed to work in a safe environment with decent work rules, compensation, and benefits?

As we live in a world that is always evolving, what are your honest thoughts on a pilot's union. As we go forward in this industry, I think it is time the ALPA's, NPA's, APA's, Teamsters, and SWAPA's of this industry sit down and take a look at what is the role of a pilot union in the 21st century. I believe there is definitely a role for our unions to play in this industry. But have the unions evolved and caught up with the 21st century going forward? I believe this is our challenge and we as pilots need to make sure our leaders are prepared to face these challenges going forward. What are your thoughts?
 

DashTrash400

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Unions only get onto company property once management is no longer willing or able to put the pilots' interests on an equal footing with financial interests. At that point, the pilots realize they need someone else looking out for their interests. This can't be done alone: individual pilots are easy targets for management, one can be hung and left out to dry very easily. A union is simply the easiest way for the pilots to pool their resources - money, time, ideas, talents - to represent their interests. This includes negotiating fair compensation, representation in disciplinary matters, maximizing quality of life, ensuring that safety isn't left behind in the drive for profitability, etc. The union will be effective in obtaining these things in direct portion to how badly the membership wants improvements in these things and is willing to invest time & money in the union.

In my experience, a lot of management antipathy towards unions is not merely financial; I think many take it as a personal slap in the face because the workers are explicitly saying, "I don't trust you to look out for my interests." At Horizon, you could see that a lot of middle management took it personally and developed a vindictive streak in response to the pilots unionizing. This manifests itself in all sorts of petty behavior, which of course hardens the pilots attitudes toward the company. At SWA, the pilots unionizing early on and with management's encouragement prevented this dynamic from ever starting, with benefits that continue today.
 

DashTrash400

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BTW, I realize I didn't answer the second portion of your question, regarding how unions need to evolve. I need a little more time to think over my response.

Good discussion to have, but exactly the kind of thread that never lasts long at flightinfo before the flamers and trolls show up. When flying the line I really do wonder who these people are; if pilots were all as stupid and petty as flightinfo would seem to indicate, I think I'd go back into single-pilot freight.
 

Browntothebone

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"We don't want to kill the golden goose, we just want to choke it by the neck until it gives us every last egg."
 
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tico

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Read(or re-read) "Flying the Line" part one....That will clarify for you what the purpose of a union is. Unfortunately, at this point ALPA, SWAPA, IPA, NPA, APA, IBT etc have become the silver spoon, over-priveledged, under-qualified, I want mine now, suburban-american flying club.....Very little semblance to a real "Labor" union
 

Turtle21

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It is ironic that a discussion would last this long without one mention of seniority. ALPA would be proud.
 

Eagle757shark

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It is ironic that a discussion would last this long without one mention of seniority. ALPA would be proud.
Ok, don't be afraid to address an issue that is a vital part of this discussion. Let's tread on it lightly though. How do we view ourselves as airline pilots? Are we Blue collar labor or are we White collar management? Does seniority affect how you view yourself among the two. It is definitely something I have noticed in the cockpit. Senority has given us a sort of vesting in our airlines. We know unlike management, you can't just leave major airline x and make a lateral move to major airline y without starting all over. Does this effect unity among 21st century airline pilots? Has the "meism" effect taken over? We are allowing outsourcing of jobs like there is no tomorrow. Will this industry eventually turn into contract pilots where it is every pilot for himself? When several major airlines terminated pilot pensions, why wasn't that the line in the sand drawn that brought 21st century unions together for a cause? Where are 21st century pilot unions going, and how effective will they be?
 
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Fubijaakr

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Amen, tico.

And what is really surprising is that the issues that faced Dave Behncke and the founders of ALPA are the same issues we face today...pilot pushing, whipsawing, fatigue, etc. etc.

And those are just the safety issues.
 

Turtle21

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Ok, don't be afraid to address an issue that is a vital part of this discussion. Let's tread on it lightly though. How do we view ourselves as airline pilots? Are we Blue collar labor or are we White collar management? Does seniority affect how you view yourself among the two. It is definitely something I have noticed in the cockpit. Senority has given us a sort of vesting in our airlines. We know unlike management, you can't just leave major airline x and make a lateral move to major airline y without starting all over. Does this effect unity among 21st century airline pilots? Has the "meism" effect taken over? We are allowing outsourcing of jobs like there is no tomorrow. Will this industry eventually turn into contract pilots where it is every pilot for himself? When several major airlines terminated pilot pensions, why wasn't that the line in the sand drawn that brought 21st century unions together for a cause? Where are 21st century pilot unions going, and how effective will they be?

All very good questions. And frankly without defining seniority (or completely rejecting it) these questions have no foundation. Seniority removes any consideration about merit based progression. We either have merit progression like management or we have seniority that prevents competition.

ALPA has tried to have both and has abandoned the principle of a fixed seniority. ALPA has the perfect pyramid exploitation scam. ALPA is the whipsaw.
 

dashtrasher

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Folks I've been in the airline industry a good spell. At AirTran the pilots are looking at possibly switching unions. I'm starting this thread to get a perspective of what pilots feel the purpose of a union is. I will lead off with a few questions.

1. Do we think the purpose of a union is to only negotiate a new pay rate for us every three to four years?

2. Is the purpose of a union to get you out of trouble when a mistake is made?

3. Is the purpose of a union to ensure pilots are allowed to work in a safe environment with decent work rules, compensation, and benefits?

As we live in a world that is always evolving, what are your honest thoughts on a pilot's union. As we go forward in this industry, I think it is time the ALPA's, NPA's, APA's, Teamsters, and SWAPA's of this industry sit down and take a look at what is the role of a pilot union in the 21st century. I believe there is definitely a role for our unions to play in this industry. But have the unions evolved and caught up with the 21st century going forward? I believe this is our challenge and we as pilots need to make sure our leaders are prepared to face these challenges going forward. What are your thoughts?


Safety
 

blzr

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I remember it being there to get pilots,who for example--drive the plane through a ditch to get to the gate because they were in a hurry, out of trouble and in a job. Landing with the parking brake set--they kept their job..and the list goes onandonandonandonandonandon...

It is an organization that HAS to be in place because you would invariably have pilots fired for refusing to fly into a level 5 TS if unions were not in place. The unions are there to protect the pilots from management, but sometimes the reasons are rediculous.

We need the unions to kick the ASS of CEO's that continuously lose millions and even BILLIONS of $$ and still get multi-million $ salaries and rediculous bonuses. But, that ain't going to happen.

Back to football!
 

Rez O. Lewshun

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Turtle21

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Good article Paul ( ? :) )

Not sure what the APA has really done effectively, except the pension, which is huge..., otherwise the APA is not that good of a union...

However, the article clearly shows not why ALPA is the best union, but why all pilots under one union is best....
Oh, the pension. Thats all. Gee whiz. ALPA would never bother with such trivialities as a pension, except for the president and his men who already make over 400K and don't need a pension like the pilots who still know how to fly, pay dues, and took 60% paycuts.

The only reason you think APA isn't a good union is because their pilots don't pay dues to ALPA fat cats who do have their pension.

But other than that we could be great friends.:D
 

Rez O. Lewshun

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Oh, the pension. Thats all. Gee whiz. ALPA would never bother with such trivialities as a pension, except for the president and his men who already make over 400K and don't need a pension like the pilots who still know how to fly, pay dues, and took 60% paycuts.

The only reason you think APA isn't a good union is because their pilots don't pay dues to ALPA fat cats who do have their pension.

But other than that we could be great friends.:D

Naw, I don't think the APA is that great of a union becuase left ALPA over ego's. and they won't come back to ALPA for ego's.

One could argue that by not being ALPA that the APA could do great things....

if so..... what? sick out fine? Treating TWA pilots like second class citizens? The B scale?

Again, I am not saying that ALPA is great, just saying that AMR pilots not being part of one union give management an advantage...
 

CopilotDoug

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Done!
However, the article clearly shows not why ALPA is the best union, but why all pilots under one union is best....
The article said it all...job security. Now, a reason why ALPA is not the one to be under: Comair and the transferring of aircraft to Mesaba.

Another downside? Being held accountable to the AFL-CIO. Hopkins points out that " If American’s pilots had remained within the embrace of ALPA and the AFL-CIO, public perception of them might be more favorable." Why? Because ALPA would have taken the position of non-flying workers into consideration in the first place, and quelled any attempts to strike.

YMMV
 

Turtle21

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Naw, I don't think the APA is that great of a union becuase left ALPA over ego's. and they won't come back to ALPA for ego's.

One could argue that by not being ALPA that the APA could do great things....

if so..... what? sick out fine? Treating TWA pilots like second class citizens? The B scale?

Again, I am not saying that ALPA is great, just saying that AMR pilots not being part of one union give management an advantage...
Yeah, TWA pilots know all about the ALAP advantage. Too bad APA didn't accept the sacrifice and pay homage. They should have promised someone in APA that they could be president of ALPA if they brought them back into the fold.

I'll buy you a beer if ALPA puts that story in "Flying the Line". Whats to hide?
 

Rez O. Lewshun

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I'll buy you a beer if ALPA puts that story in "Flying the Line". Whats to hide?

I don't think that will be an issue... do you?


With copy of Vol II in hand turn to page XII of the Preface.

Hopkins, the books' author writes






JJ O'Donnell [then ALPA's president] asked me to write another history commemorating the unions 50th anniversary. With the understanding that I would give ALPA its history "warts and all," I agreed.

The result was Flying the Line; the First Half Century of the Airline Pilots Association, published in 1982. My interpretation of ALPA's history was not censored. I work for Western Illionis University specifically and for an abstraction called history" generally. Although frankly nervous about the book, O'Donnell understood that prettified "court history" praising the King (so to speak) would be worthless. If pilots were to derive insight from my book, it had to be free to go wherever truth took it.


Hopkins placed his academic career on writing the truth and not being a chump.




You can read about how pilots showed up for work, only to be met by an armed guard who escorted them to a company official. This company official handed the pilot both a resignation and an employment application....at a lower wage! (Vol I, chapter 6, page 48)

Coming to work nowadays isn't so bad.


Need more? Read 'When the Airlines Went to War' In this book you will read how Air Line Pilots disregarded thier labor contracts during WWII to 'transport the army and navy' and how the airlines trained Navigators, Pilots and mechanics by the thousands. The required rapid mobilzation of America's Air Power would have never happened if it wasn't for the US Airlines.

You'll earn a new respect for Airports like LGA and DCA, commonly refered to as sh1tholes by the ignorant. LGA and DCA have more history, culture and character than most of us....

Pride in being an Air Line Pilot is not popular right now, but you'll find it in these books...
 

Turtle21

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.. escorted them to a company official. This company official handed the pilot both a resignation and an employment application....at a lower wage! ...
No one is denying that ALPA had relevance and met the challenges for a couple decades at the beginning, but what have they done in the last two or three decades.

ALPA discovered the escort business pays better. Any "union" that collects dues from multiple seniority lists with competing interests is a group of hucksters.
 

Rez O. Lewshun

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No one is denying that ALPA had relevance and met the challenges for a couple decades at the beginning, but what have they done in the last two or three decades.

What do you suggest then? USAPA?

ALPA discovered the escort business pays better. Any "union" that collects dues from multiple seniority lists with competing interests is a group of hucksters.
Again what do you suggest? Sure it sounds good to slam ALPA for representing multiple carriers, but not is worse, unless you can provide a logical alternative...
 
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