Gets Weekends Off
Joined APC: May 2006
Freeloaders and Age 60
21 September 2006
To: Duane Woerth, President, Air Line Pilots Association
David Webb, Chairman, FedEx MEC
Pilots Everywhere via Internet
Subject: Freeloaders and Age 60
Dear Mr. Woerth, Mr. Webb, et al
Since the FedEx Tentative Agreement was announced, I have read and heard a few comments regarding "freeloaders" who who are exempt from the new Agency Shop provision. I find the comments reminiscent of letters that both of you sent to me in response to my resignation from ALPA last year. Mr. Woerth wrote:
ALPA didn't go your way on Age 60, and now you want to take your football and go home.
And, from Mr. Webb:
Bob...It demeans the contributions you have made in the past.
Do you not believe as I that some level of moral authority is necessary to make such comments credible?
My record of activity in support of my fellow pilots is out there and can be evaluated by anyone who wishes to compare it to their own or to yours.
It is no secret that I spent nearly seven years deeply dedicated to the war at Continental Airlines against corruption and social injustice in the airline business, including two years on strike (preceded by nearly a year on furlough). I and my fellow strikers experienced years of sleepless nights, stomach and heart irregularities, and the stress of daily financial uncertainty in order to protect this profession. In addition, I, personally, was intensely involved with the print and television media, the lobbying campaign in Washington D.C. and Sacramento, and with legal issues. I spent many long and frustrating days in the bankruptcy court. In some cases I found myself, literally, shouting from the gallery to the judge in order to correct distortions made by Lorenzo's attorneys. One of Lorenzo's cronies came up to me one afternoon and complimented me on this tactic. Through such strong behavior we were able to finally get the judge to see the darkness of the Lorenzo machine. Unfortunately, by that time, most of the damage had been done.
The amazing thing to me, even now, is that my wife stuck with me through all of this. We could not even sleep in the same bed because of my restlessness every night as I pondered the next day's strategies: Political, PR message line, legal, press, and some things you don't want to know about. I still frequently thank her for her support. I owe her. Not only was I on the road all of the time but it cost every family who struck for two years then started over about five hundred thousand dollars in lost salary—many times more than any FedEx pilot will pay in dues and assessments in a 30 year career. It was a bad time but I would not change a thing. It was an incredible learning experience that has colored all of my private and professional interests since.
Early last year, I made a PowerPoint presentation to the FedEx MEC on strategic solutions to disunity within our profession. As I looked around the room, it distilled upon me that my wife, Carol, had suffered and paid a greater price for my profession than all of the MEC members there combined. In fact, it's not even close. She went to depths that few pilots will ever experience and she never made a peep. She went for the ride and never complained because she knew that I was focused on correcting social injustice that is intolerable in our society. It was one of the most incredible acts of selflessness that one can imagine outside of being a foot soldier in combat.
So, perhaps, you can understand that when individuals, who have never done anything comparable to what she did, attempt to lecture me about "freeloading", "taking my ball and going home", or something similar, I have to smile a bit and know that those who lack experience in such matters can often not really understand or appreciate them. This is, I think, why my fellow striker and former ALPA member, Chuck Henry, once said to me, "You know, these guys really need to go on strike for two years so that they can see what it is all about." He was right. I believe it would provide you with a new perspective and level of appreciation for what some people have gone through in order to protect the integrity of our profession. I do not see it sinking in by any other method.
As both of you know, I am not anywhere close to being a "single issue" person. I have written quite a bit about the strategic issues that must be addressed before Labor can recover from its collapse and pilots can become truly united. I have tried to publish through ALPA venues, but both ALPA national and Mr. Webb have rejected the articles. So, we have used other means to overcome the censorship. I understand that we all must tolerate some things that we do not agree with in the course of living, but just as I fought against the social injustices of the Lorenzo regime, I vigorously oppose similar union policies. In other words, Mr. Webb, the battle against ALPA policy on Age 60 is merely a continuation "of the contributions [I] have made in the past." Thank you.
The Age 60 rule is a grossly discriminatory policy that is harming our profession—not just the older pilots who have lost their retirement plans, but the entire profession. A body of individuals who call themselves a "union" have no business promoting this kind of discrimination; it undermines their credibility in every way. Go read the AFL-CIO statement on age discrimination; it is there. Policies such as this are the reason that unions now represent only 7.8% of the private workforce in this country and are unable to even protect pension plans. Unions can still talk but they can no longer walk. Americans eventually lose interest in institutions that speak out of both sides of their mouth.
Is it not ironically humorous that those who gave up all of their seniority on behalf of the profession are being criticized by those whose only motive is their own seniority position? So much for moral authority.
You see, to pilots experienced in these matters, supporting the Age 60 policy is the moral equivalent of crossing a picket line. When one pilot seeks to put another pilot out of a job simply so he can "move up a seat," he is doing exactly what the strike breakers did at Continental. And, that, my friends, describes precisely the ALPA pilot mentality that has evolved from years of leadership neglect. We eat our young and our “old.” Where does it end?
The entire world now knows that ALPA fabricated its "safety" argument to support the Age 60 rule, leaving pure age discrimination as the only explanation for ALPA’s position. It is a public disgrace that will accelerate after November 23rd. As long ALPA pilots continue to cross the picket line and willfully displace their fellow pilots, I will continue to do the same thing that I did at Continental when I was 23 years younger: Resist. In this case, I am striking ALPA. And, I am pretty certain that Carol still supports my effort. It was crystal clear to us who the real freeloaders were back in the mid 80s, and it is crystal clear who they are now.
Last edited by rjlavender; 09-21-2006 at 06:12 PM.