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Old 11-06-2009, 09:27 AM   #2  
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And the rebuttal

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November 5, 2009

Dear Fellow Pilots,

As an organized body, the Air Line Pilots Association operates under an adopted set of rules called the ALPA Constitution and By-Laws (C&BL). These rules specify procedures and requirements for such things as ALPA membership, National officers, and financial obligations of members. The ALPA Constitution and By-Laws also provide for the establishment, election, and recall of officers of the Master Executive Council and of Local Executive Councils. ALPA also operates under the requirements of its Administration Manual. As a member of ALPA, the United MEC also operates under the Constitution and By-Laws and augments where necessary the role of the United MEC, its officers and committees. This is done through the UAL MEC Policy Manual Volumes I and II. The stated purpose of the Policy Manuals is “to provide rules and procedures for the MEC, its Officers and Committees to assist them in carrying out the primary duty of the MEC as a coordinating council for all the pilots of United Airlines.” The MEC members have the power of review of any changes and any additions, deletions or corrections to the manuals and two-thirds vote is required for any policy changes. As elected officials of a union, all MEC members have a thorough and complete understanding of the ALPA Constitution and its By-Laws, and of the UAL-MEC Policy Manuals. Failure to have such a grasp could be compared to allowing a commercial pilot to fly passengers without his knowledge of federal aviation regulations.

The C&BL, the Administrative Manuals, and the policy manuals were created and have evolved to bring order to a revolving group of varied elected representatives who bring their vested interests to the MEC table. Without these prescribed manners, there would be chaos and very little accomplishments. Just as there are procedures in electing officers and committee members, there are procedures to effect changes to officers and committee members ahead of their term expirations. The first point to make clear, keeping in mind the previous sentence, is that the MEC Master Chairman serves at the pleasure of the MEC. While the Master Chairman has the ability to call a special meeting at any time, so may 30% of the members of an MEC, as was the case on November 5, 2009. This MEC office received sufficient number of requests for a special meeting and, in accordance with ALPA’s C&BL, a meeting was called with the agenda being to 1) recall members of the Negotiating Committee and, 2) if vacancies occurred there-from, to elect members to fill those vacancies. The meeting was held at the DePaul University, 3166 S. River Road, Des Plaines, IL. There the MEC members debated and voted on resolutions to recall two members of the negotiating committee. To help prevent accusations of partial rulings on matters related to the C&BL, the Admin manual or the MEC’s policy manuals, a parliamentarian from ALPA National Legal was at the head table.

Prior to the Special Meeting, there was a flurry of updates from each of the Councils to their individual members. Because members may only see updates from his specific Council, all Councils’ updates have been attached to this letter. Here, you may read the diametric views from each Council. Some Councils communicate to their members with reasoned arguments, some Councils communicate with counterarguments, and still others resorted to name-calling and the casting of aspersions without regard to facts or the agenda.

According to the makers of the resolution, there has been some disillusion with the Negotiating Committee since the 2007 Tentative Agreement that was overwhelmingly rejected by you the members through your right of membership ratification. Since most Negotiating Committee briefings with the MEC are in closed session, it is difficult to discuss specific instances of the MEC’s frustrations, but the latest occurred with the Line Training Captain Tentative Agreement (LTC TA). I had not seen a copy of the final language of the completed TA LOA until it was released to the MEC despite being an ex-officio member of the Negotiating Committee. This was a break from past practice. Due to the elections of officers and committee members, and the full agenda consuming most of the October MEC meeting, the LTC TA was not discussed with the MEC until late Thursday afternoon and was carried over to Friday morning. The MEC elected to resubmit the TA to further negotiations since it did not, in many MEC members’ minds, comply with earlier direction given to the Negotiating Committee by the MEC. Because less than half of the MEC members were present on Friday morning (though all were represented by proxy), no further work was accomplished on the TA.

The members of the MEC who believed a change was necessary in the Negotiating Committee felt that the earlier the change occurred, the quicker the transition would be completed, particularly with the light holiday schedule. Also, because the Negotiating Committee is unique, the ALPA Administrative Manual and ALPA National ruled that an election could take place immediately if vacancies occurred in the Committee. Hence, the addition of “election of new members” was added to the Special Meeting agenda. The MEC, under its authority, decided elections should occur immediately to fill vacancies created by the recall. Each member of the MEC may make a nomination. It was felt that delaying the election to January or April would have prolonged the process unnecessarily.

The motions to recall the Negotiating Committee Chairman and one member were carried. Captain Jay Heppner was elected to Negotiating Committee Chairman and First Officer Phil Otis was elected as a member. First Officer Brad Hunnewell remains the Committee’s Vice Chairman and Captain Wendy Morse remains a member even though she has recused herself from negotiations with the Company. Her replacement is expected to be elected in January.

Finally, allow me to address some of the frequent disparaging remarks heard surrounding this special meeting and election. First, it is not about political retribution. The MEC Officer election is over, and the MEC is expected to move forward with its results. However, as pointed out earlier, the MEC’s responsibility is not limited by timeframes or election results. Its obligations and responsibilities continue throughout their terms. I have openly supported all committee members who were elected by the MEC throughout my term. I even supported those who the MEC sought to recall including the Legislative, Uniform, and International Committee Chairmen; but again the powers of the Master Chairman could not prevent these Committee people from resigning to avoid recall. Furthermore, despite complaints I received from some MEC members and from some members since my election two years ago concerning the Negotiating Committee Chairman, I defended him also. This recall effort has received extraordinary attention due to its timing and to the actual entire recall process rather than resignations, despite the handwriting on the wall supporting the recall.

There have also been accusations of “scorched earth” tactics by me and some members of the MEC. As the election results bear out, most MEC Committees remained intact – hardly scorched earth. I have told one Committee Chairman to stand down – the SPC Chairman. The reasons were twofold. One is that since the new MEC administration was elected as a change of direction, the purpose and direction of the SPC have not been yet redefined. But more importantly, as was borne out of the election campaign, the United MCF account has been depleted by almost half without, despite accusations to the contrary, oversight by me or even the MEC Secretary-Treasurer. I have requested an audit of the MCF’s $5 million by ALPA National. Additionally, it is my duty and responsibility to not let go unchecked any committee member’s action to usurp the trust of the pilots and use his office for personal or political gain.

Finally, there were quotes attributed to me that were taken out of context and used to implicate my involvement in the recalls. That is simply not true.

Unity must be created. Just because you want it, doesn’t mean you’ll get it. The MEC will get past this. Just as there was disgruntling over an 8-7 vote for the Master Chairman last month, there will be disgruntling over an 8-7 vote to recall the Negotiating Committee. In the end, both sides of the MEC table are convinced they are doing the right thing for their pilots, and in the end, the pilots will be best served by a cohesive MEC. Hopefully, this is the first step toward that recovery.

In unity,

Captain Steve Wallach
Chairman, UAL-MEC