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Old 10-15-2006, 06:22 AM   #1  
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Default "Impending Age 60 Train Wreck"

Somewhere on this board, someone asked about my use of the phrase "...impending Age 60 train wreck," a suject that I have been writing about for many years. The train wreck refers to the Age 60 matter as one of many components that have led to the failure of both ALPA and the union movement at large.

Some readers here understand that 450 former Braniff "brethren" crossed the CAL picket line in 1984. These pilots justified their actions in part because the Eastern pilots refused to integrate them into their seniority list when Eastern bought Braniff's airplanes and South American routes. Thus, they came to see ALPA as the enemy, and the first chance they had to strike back, they did. The CAL pilots had nothing to do with the Braniff/Eastern matter, but it spread to them like a cancer. And, of course, it quickly affected the rest of the industry (DAL pilots ultimately did the same thing to EAL pilots, and so on).

The Age 60 matter is no different in that we, as pilots, are totally to blame for the internal strife that affects us. Experience has shown many times over that pilots cannot disenfranchise one segment of the profession, whether young, old, regional, major, etc., without causing shockwaves throughout the entire profession. It will always come back to bite.

The following letter was written in June 2004 by former ALPA/EAL captain, Brian Settles. I think that each reader should put himself in Brian's shoes. The odds are these days that most of us will be in them in one way or another during an airline career (*Note: Brian's comments about "scabs" refers to the fact that ALPA has invited all CAL strikebreakers into ALPA membership (in fact, their MEC Chairman until recently was nortorious strike breaker, Jay Panarello):

1 June 2004

Dear Editor,

Sitting in the silence of my home office, an unemployed "retired" airline Captain, I read the Congratulatory letter from the president of Airline Pilot's Association (ALPA) that was accompanied by a spiffy brass plate embossed with my name and forced retirement date. A neat looking ALPA Retirees' pin was also enclosed. I was not moved by the meaningless tokens but more so by the great career ironies they represented.

The Congratulatory form letter thanked me for my thirty years of ALPA support, but there, indeed, at age 60, lies the rub. Yes, I supported the ALPA funded and orchestrated Eastern Airlines strike fifteen years ago because we had a Binding and Legal Collective Bargaining agreement with a Scope Clause designed to assure job protection in the event of a buyout or merger. The Eastern pilots were also assured by then ALPA president Hank Duffy that the ALPA MERGER AND FRAGMENTATION policy would be implemented if conditions dictated. They Did. Delta Airlines took 33 Eastern airplanes and half of Eastern's Concourse "B" at Hartsfield Jackson Airport in Atlanta. Then U.S. Air took 15 or so Boeing 757's. NO PILOTS went with these assets and ALPA reneged on enforcing the Fragmentation Clause.

The Labor Protective Provisions (LPP's) of that contract (the Scope Clause) assured us of merger rights and protections if Texas Air/Continental were to benefit from Eastern's assets. They did to the tune of 350 plus million dollars, which, according to the language of the contract, triggered the requirement for a merger of the Continental and Eastern Airline pilot seniority lists. Ex-Eastern pilot, and new ALPA president Randy Babbitt, in one of the most outrageous acts in the history of ALPA, offered the Eastern pilots twenty-five hundred dollars in Continental stock and five flight passes as a LPP trade off. That was what I was offered for my fifteen years of seniority with Eastern. Declaring their obligation for support satisfied, ALPA walked away from the heinous 1994 Scope Clause settlement with Continental leaving several hundred ex-Eastern dues paying pilots who refused to accept the insulting settlement to fend for their collective bargaining rights on their own.

Ten years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in litigation fees later from the small group of ex-Eastern pilots pursuing their Collective Bargaining rights, ALPA has endorsed and is presiding over the highest form of betrayal of its members by actually siding recently with Continental Airlines to abet their continuing campaign to skate away from the 10% of Eastern pilots to whom they have a collective bargaining responsibility and ignore the Arbitration obligation they have under the Railway Labor Act that takes precedence in airline Collective Bargaining Agreements. The former Eastern Airlines pilots were denied an Arbitration Judge hearing to decide the Merger Issue with Continental in the early nineties because the latter simply refused to participate in the process. The Eastern pilots had a grievous wrong perpetrated upon them by National ALPA when the union accepted Continental's intransigence. A virtual collusion continues today.

Yes, ALPA's letter thanked me for my support. In the face of the preceding facts, do you think I wasn't praying for ALPA to take a proper moral and legal stand to support amending the capricious 50 year old Age 60 Mandatory Retirement Rule for commercial airline pilots? They haven't. In playing self-serving politics with the younger ALPA members, the union has cast many super experienced age sixty pilots out of their Captain positions without the financial safety net of an adequate pension due to career displacements and on going financial straits in the aviation industry. Examine the pilot pension crisis occurring at U.S. Airways, United Airlines and the one looming now at Delta. Rather than retiring, many "terminated" pilots are forced to rejoin the job market in any small change capacity in which employment can be found.

In the final analysis, ALPA is a co-conspirator in denying me employment as a Captain at Continental for the past fifteen years And the Retirement Pension that would have accrued from that employment. With the failure to modernize its position on The Age 60 Retirement Rule, ALPA has denied many of its senior membership access to their careers at the most critical phase.

The fat pilot pensions of the past have disappeared for many of us who were forced to work for multiple airlines following the fallout from the 1978 Aviation Deregulation Act and September 11th. As a healthy sixty-year-old pilot, I am ripped away from my career with little to no pension and am sent a brass plate, an ALPA pin and a form letter of congratulations. I sent them back. I have no need for more memorabilia of the back stabbing sellout fomented by ALPA against me, and many other ALPA members: TWA, BRANIFF, PAN AM and EASTERN to name a few.

I am an ex-Vietnam fighter pilot and proud ex-Eastern pilot who never scabbed. There are pilots in ALPA's current membership at United and Continental who cannot make that claim. But in the truest manifestation of hypocrisy's exploitation, ALPA now embraces Scabs as long as they remain in Good Standing. Yes, I gave back the tokens; there was no pride or honor in receiving or possessing them. ALPA's self-serving policies of indifference and exploitation of its membership has denied me that.

The Right Thing for ALPA to do, if there is any interest in its credibility with the membership and the agreements that have been or are being negotiated, is to do what is honorable and just by imploring Continental and its pilot group to submit to an Arbitration judge and craft a final dignified resolution with the three hundred or so Eastern pilots still fighting and funding a decade long court battle for their Collective Bargaining rights. ALPA felt strongly enough about a merger having been triggered back in the early 90's to pursue the merger of the Continental and Eastern pilots seniority lists with Arbitration Judge Kasher. Those facts haven't changed even with the passage of a decade.

For the sake of decency, ALPA leadership should be exerted to guide the legal beagles away from the continuing campaign wasting ALPA dues engaging in the sophisticated legal chess match in an attempt to Win At Any Cost. To defeat the small group of ex-Eastern pilots in the ten year quest against Continental for their ALPA negotiated Scope Clause contractual rights is in essence a defeat for Any existing or future ALPA crafted Collective Bargaining agreement. The ALPA membership is observing this scenario; they can read between the lines and discern the implications for their own airline realities.

Justice must be served for the remaining Eastern pilots. Any ALPA pilot group (Delta, United, Northwest, et al) would feel the same way if they were fighting for their legal and binding contractual rights. LPP's are supposed to be what they are intended: protection for the airline pilot. ALPA must take a stand for justice and uphold the LPP's for the Eastern pilot group by having ALPA Legal urge Continental and her pilots to submit to arbitration immediately. Otherwise, ALPA is truly feeding on its own.

Submitted by Captain Brian H. Settles

Retired ALPA Member


Let it be known that there is a science dedicated to solving internal conflicts of the sort that ALPA pilots continually heap upon themselves. It is called Organizational Behavior. ALPA has refused every overture I have made to even consider, much less adopt, the techniques that corporations and other entities worldwide routinely use to align their internal forces. I will write more about this later but suffice it to know that ALPA is living in the past while everyone else is moving forward. Therein, lies its (and, your) weakness.

Last edited by rjlavender; 10-15-2006 at 07:01 AM.
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Old 10-15-2006, 09:35 AM   #2  
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I'm sorry, did somebody say something?
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Old 10-15-2006, 12:13 PM   #3  
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Wow Bob, thanks for pointing that out. Now what was it again? What exactly is the train wreck again? I still have no idea what the train wreck is. What bad thing is going to happen in the future if pilots have to retire at 60? Oh, the furloughed guys get to come back to work, yeah that will really suck.

I didn't realize that ALPA set the retirement age.

Also, the MAJORITY of ALPA members agree with the age 60 rule. That sounds like unity to me.

Cry me a river all you want about CAL scabs joining ALPA and you holding the line. Thank you for doing what was right then.

Quitting now, however, just because you are near the end of your career, is NOT the right thing, you have to play the whole game. You don't get a pass because you had a good first half or quarter. You are now a quitter who couldn't finish the game.

ALPA is united in favor of the age 60 rule. Too bad you have to take your ball and go home because you don't agree.

FJ
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Old 10-15-2006, 03:23 PM   #4  
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Is anyone actually proposing that foreign pilots older than age 60 be permitted to continue to fly in U.S. airspace, while U.S. pilot citizens are not?
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Old 10-15-2006, 05:07 PM   #5  
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US pilot citizens can, just not for 121 operators. Go fly for Netjets if you want to fly till you die.

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Old 10-15-2006, 05:15 PM   #6  
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[QUOTE=rjlavender;69437]. I will write more about this later but suffice it to know that ALPA is living in the past while everyone else is moving forward. QUOTE]


Bob I'm ****ed at ALPA too.

The FEDEX TA allows scumbag freeloaders who were non members before 26 AUG (like yourself) to Continue to be freeloaders.

I think I'll walk the halls of congress.
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Old 10-16-2006, 09:26 AM   #7  
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Guys,

The "Trainwreck" is that ALPA will change your job, your career, and your life without batting an eye. I saw the same things Bob talks about and more. List mergers that suddenly favor one group over the other in spite of bylaws and procedures. Squeezing the local airline unions into the national AFL-CIO strike agenda. Whatever is expeditious for the ALPA National "business model," as they call it (translated: whatever makes ALPA more money)!

And the "trainwreck" is coming to those who actually rely on ALPA for "help" and "guidance" during negotiations, self-help, mergers, etc. That covers just about every commercial pilot, no? They're on their OWN side, guys! They need to keep collecting money and if its from strike fund war chest assessments, all the better! Look for drawn out negotiations even when shorter is possible!

Bob was smart. If you have an opposing opinion, you're better off agitating from the outside than from the inside. I notice Bob still got his plaque and lapel pin. I expect they'll be sending me mine, too, despite my record (which I won't go into).

skypair
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Old 10-16-2006, 09:44 AM   #8  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skypair View Post
And the "trainwreck" is coming to those who actually rely on ALPA for "help" and "guidance" during negotiations, self-help, mergers, etc. That covers just about every commercial pilot, no? They're on their OWN side, guys! They need to keep collecting money and if its from strike fund war chest assessments, all the better! Look for drawn out negotiations even when shorter is possible! skypair
Pure BS. The ALPA you refer too is YOU and the members on your specific seniority list. ALPA national does not dictate Negotiations to a specific Airline. That is up to the local MEC. If the pilots from that carrier don't like what is being negotiated, their beef is with their own, not ALPA National. It all comes down to personal and individual resolve of the Pilots

During Airline mergers between 2 ALPA carriers, ALPA National does not get involved as it is a conflict of interest. Again, that is between the "Merger" committees of each MEC and usually decided by a nuetral Arbitrator.

You are quick to point out all of ALPA's faults ( and I'll grant you there are a few). You fail to point out the good things ALPA has done.

I am not picking on or slamming the independent Unions of IPS AA or SWA but name one thing these organizations have done for the pilot profession outside of their negotiated contracts?

What of these organizations done to enhance safety as far as changing regulations? Getting Rid of Lorenzo or atleast keeping him from coming back.

ALPA National can't perform miracles. As far as a strike is concerned, It was the Local MEC's of CAL and EAL ( and it's members) that decided to go on strike not ALPA National. I paid my strike assessment to the Pilots of CAL and Eastern. Those strikes were not successful and I am sorry, but don't put the entire Blame on ALPA National, the decsions for such things are made at the local level.

Where would this profession be without ALPA National? Do you really think things would be better without them? Please..........
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Old 10-16-2006, 10:23 AM   #9  
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Bob,

Though some may care to hear your rants. I for one could care less. The truth is your just CHEAP. Admit it.
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Old 10-16-2006, 10:54 AM   #10  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skypair View Post
...And the "trainwreck" is coming to those who actually rely on ALPA for "help" and "guidance" during negotiations, self-help, mergers, etc. That covers just about every commercial pilot, no? They're on their OWN side, guys! They need to keep collecting money and if its from strike fund war chest assessments, all the better! Look for drawn out negotiations even when shorter is possible!

Bob was smart. If you have an opposing opinion, you're better off agitating from the outside than from the inside. I notice Bob still got his plaque and lapel pin. I expect they'll be sending me mine, too, despite my record (which I won't go into).
skypair
Some of the rank and file has romaticized the image of ALPA national. ALPA does, indeed, make crucial decisions that affect members at both the local and national levels, and they do it to pad the ALPA pockets. How else can one account for the decision to admit to ALPA membership every strike breaker who crossed the CAL picket line? Clearly, this was a move that would ultimately dilute the strength of the whole union, but the dollars came first.

How, also, do you explain admitting the Air Canada Jazz pilots (who can fly up to age 65) into ALPA while, simultaneously, testifying before the U.S. Congress that it was unsafe to fly past 60? They wanted the dues dollars. It is this kind of chronic hypocrisy that has eviscerated both ALPA and the AFL-CIO. I just have a low tolerance level for this kind of stuff.

Pilots should make no mistake about it: ALPA's failure to implement an ethical framework for behavior is a major cause of the internal disunity that results every time a merger takes place. In my experience, ALPA national and local have rejected all attempts to inform the rank-and-file of modern techniques available to create this framework.

Union membership in the private sector is now at 7.8%, yet some people are unable to see the collapse. The airline unions are a complete disaster and ALPA has not been able to cope. The American people have overwhelmingly rejected traditional unionism in favor of...well, nothing.

There is a move afoot at UAL to decertify ALPA. I don't think it has much of a chance of succeeding unless it tries something really new, but it shows how deep the internal divisions run.

I wrote about the "impending" train wreck many years ago. It is no longer impending. The wreck is in progress. Thousands of pilots are falling of the cliff and ALPA is not only watching it, they are causing it. Age 60 is but one factor that has led to ALPA's nearly complete inability to bring pilots together to fight even one strategic battle.

It's over, gang. It's time to create something new.

Thanks for the note.

Bob

P.S. By the way, I still appreciate the efforts of those who contributed to the strike funds during the strikes. Even though I believe that continued reliance on the ALPA "model" is very destructive to our profession and that paying dues is simpley proglonging the agony, I do respect those who want to do the right thing. And, I do not believe that name-calling does anything other than bring further discredit to the profession.

Last edited by rjlavender; 10-16-2006 at 11:14 AM.
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