Learning from History
Milestones in ALPA’s History—2006

Editor’s note: “Learning from History” concludes its look at various events in ALPA’s past.

Independence Shuts Down
Jan. 5, 2006—Independence Air, which began business in 1991 when WestAir sold its East Coast operations to a newly formed company named Atlantic Coast Airlines, ceases operations. Initially a United Airlines express carrier, Atlantic Coast also fed Delta Air Lines before going solo as Independence Air in 2004.

United Exits Bankruptcy
Feb. 1, 2006—United Airlines emerges from more than 3 years of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The new United is leaner—about one-fifth smaller with one-third fewer workers—and has added 35 new international routes, which are more lucrative than the carrier’s domestic routes. At a press conference, Capt. Mark Bathurst, United Master Executive Council chairman, makes clear to the news media representatives present that the resolve and sacrifice of United's employees, led by its pilots, is the major reason the airline has exited bankruptcy.

ATA Emerges from Chapter 11
Feb. 28, 2006—Indianapolis-based ATA Airlines emerges from bankruptcy after 14 months under Chapter 11 protection, leveling out after a massive downsizing that cuts its fleet in half and eliminates more than 4,000 jobs, including 30 percent of its flight crews. On January 30, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Basil Lorch III approved the airline's Plan of Reorganization, which calls for a 30-airplane fleet with an emphasis on charters for military and vacation flying and on building upon ATA's codesharing agreement with Southwest Airlines. "The only reason ATA exists as a company today is because of our crewmembers' sacrifices," says Capt. Jim Anderson, ATA Master Executive Council chairman.

Judge Prevents Release of CVR
April 10, 2006—The U.S. District Court issues an order that prevents the public dissemination of the cockpit voice recorder audiotape of United Airlines Flight 93, the hijacked airliner that crashed in Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001. Upon the success of ALPA pilots and their families in keeping private the CVR tape, ALPA’s president, Capt. Duane Woerth, states, "The Air Line Pilots Association, Int'l, welcomes Judge Brinkema's decision to respect the privacy of the crew and families of hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 by ruling against the public dissemination of the cockpit voice recorder audiotapes. Federal lawmakers and agency leaders have worked for years to balance the privacy of pilots and their families with the need for a full and fair trial. The judge's ruling demonstrates that respect for the privacy and dignity of pilots who fall in the line of duty can and must be part of our legal system."

Security Rule Published
May 2006—The Air Cargo Security Final Rule is published in the Federal Register, calling for sweeping changes in security measures applied to both passenger and all-cargo operations. The Rule is based on the work of three cargo security working groups, which include ALPA representatives. The Transportation Security Administration chartered the working groups to examine and make recommendations related to three topics: shipper acceptance procedures, indirect air carriers, and security of all-cargo aircraft.

CanJet Comes Onboard
June 26, 2006—The Canada Industrial Relations Board certifies ALPA as the bargaining representative of the CanJet pilots, who have voted overwhelmingly for ALPA representation. Capt. Josh Kelly, president of the CanJet Pilots’ Association, comments on the certification by saying, “Our pilots are convinced that membership in ALPA will help to bring more stability to our work lives while maintaining our positive relationship within our company. We believe that with ALPA representation, we will achieve collective bargaining agreements that address our needs….”

Still Strong at 75!
July 27, 2006—The Association marks its 75th birthday. ALPA now represents more than 60,000 cockpit crewmembers at 40 airlines in the United States and Canada, employs roughly 370 staff members, and operates on an annual budget of approximately $103,000,000.

Pension Reform Legislation
Aug. 17, 2006—President George W. Bush signs the Pension Reform Bill into law, marking the end of a campaign that ALPA has fought for more than 3 years. While the law addresses key issues in shoring up frozen and open pension plans, it does not address the concerns of pilots whose pensions have been terminated. The Bill does not contain the Akaka amendment, which ALPA’s president, Capt. Duane Woerth, says “remains of utmost importance to ALPA.” That amendment would increase the amount of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation guarantee for airline pilots’ pensions from plans that have been terminated. Woerth states, “ALPA has not and will not give up on achieving success on the Akaka amendment.”

Sumwalt Named to NTSB
Aug. 21, 2006—Capt. Robert Sumwalt (US Airways, Ret.) is sworn in as a member of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board and is also appointed by President Bush as the NTSB vice-chairman. During almost 20 years of ALPA work, Sumwalt served as chairman of ALPA’s Human Factors and Training Group and helped found the Association’s Critical Incident Response Program and ALPA’s Training Council, as well as the USAir Altitude Awareness Program. A trained accident investigator, he also served as a member of ALPA’s Accident Investigation Board. In the course of his activities, Sumwalt—who received ALPA’s 2004 Air Safety Award and the Flight Safety Foundation’s 2003 Laura Taber Barbour Award—represented ALPA’s views to the NTSB, the FAA, aircraft manufacturers, and the Flight Safety Foundation.

FedEx MEC Approves TA
Sept. 8, 2006—The FedEx Master Executive Council approves the tentative contract agreement that its Negotiating Committee reached with FedEx management on August 26. The MEC unanimously recommends that the FedEx pilots ratify the TA. The new agreement provides industry-leading pay, improved retirement benefits for pilots through changes in both the defined-benefit and defined-contribution plans, improved healthcare benefits, stronger job security provisions, and strengthened and enhanced work rules. On October 17, pilots overwhelmingly approve the contract, which will take effect on October 30—successfully concluding a negotiation process that began in 2004.

Remembering Fallen Comrades
Sept. 11, 2006—More than 300 flightcrew members, flight attendants, ALPA staff, friends, and family gather on September 11 to attend the dedication ceremony of the ALPA 9/11 Memorial outside the Herndon, Va., office. Other such groups also gather in Shanksville, Pa., and New York City to join in memorial services there.

New Directions
Oct. 16-19, 2006—ALPA holds it 41st regular Board of Directors meeting in Las Vegas, Nev. Delegates elect Capt. John Prater (Continental) to serve as the Association’s eighth president. During the meeting, Capt. Frank Mayne (Delta, Ret.) is honored as just the second recipient of ALPA’s David Behncke Lifetime Achievement Award, which the Executive Council established in 2000 to recognize an ALPA member who, during the course of his or her career, has made an extraordinary contribution to the Association, to its members, and to trade unionism. Mayne had served for 15 years as chairman of ALPA's Education Committee and before that as an executive vice-president and an LEC chairman, and on other committees and in other offices.

TA Reached at Mesaba
Oct. 28, 2006—The Mesaba pilots’ Negotiating Committee reaches a tentative agreement with management after years of stalled negotiations and court proceedings. The Mesaba MEC endorses the tentative agreement with management and recommends that the pilot group ratifies it. The TA recaptures wage cuts, provides across-the-board increases after the contract’s amendable date to provide a disincentive to prolonged bargaining, adds substantial protection against further cuts while in bankruptcy, and establishes a substantial bankruptcy claim to repay pilots for losses incurred from contract changes. On November 27, the pilots’ votes are counted, and the TA is ratified.

Contract Extension at ExpressJet
Nov. 28, 2006—ExpressJet pilots ratify a tentative agreement that extends the amendable date of their current collective bargaining agreement by 2 years—until Nov. 30, 2010. The agreement, which takes effective December 1, includes yearly pay increases during the extension period that are greater than those in the current contract and adds several key scheduling upgrades that improve pilots’ quality of life. In addition, a section addressing the airline’s new charter operations provides a significant increase in compensation for both captains and first officers, two vacation options depending on whether the pilot wants to maximize time off or pay, and work rule changes to address the unique challenges of charter operations. It also includes an implementation and reopening provision that allows the parties to adapt the charter provisions to changes in the operation and to reopen the entire charter section after a year of operation.

Workers’ Rights Rally
Dec. 8, 2006—ALPA pilots and staff join other unions in a rally near the U.S. Capitol to demand that the next Congress restore and honor the rights of airline pilots and other working Americans. Nearly 100 ALPA pilots and staff stand their ground, demanding that the new Congress pass pro-worker legislation, including the Employee Free Choice Act, which would enable employees to choose freely whether they can join a union, without the threat of intimidation. According to ALPA’s president-elect, Capt. John Prater, “This rally sends a strong message to the new Congress. They must respect the rights of all working Americans, including airline pilots. Now it’s our turn--airline managements and CEOs need to wait in line.”