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Why ALPA is losing the Battle

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Why ALPA is losing the Battle

Old 02-18-2008, 07:49 PM
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Default Why ALPA is losing the Battle

Why is USAPA good for a West pilot?
Why would a West pilot support USAPA?
We're sure that any West pilots who are reading this are already thinking there is absolutely nothing that could cause you to support USAPA, and you may still feel that way when you finish reading. That said, USAPA was not created just for the East pilot - USAPA exists because all US Airways deserve better representation than ALPA can provide. The time has come for US Airways pilots to have their own union; one not conflicted by the interests of other carriers, one that has policy that demands results, not just process. It is for this reason that USAPA was formed. The West pilots too have had issues with ALPA, but it is the East that, time and again, has been left standing alone, essentially abandoned by National. We have watched the wholesale destruction of our airline by robber barons singing a siren song (they're still here, singing!) Those same robber barons turned an airline that had the highest yields, highest pay, best working conditions and lowest debt into the laughing stock of the industry. Concurrent with this decline was the decline in the lives of those who worked here; we've taken the largest pay cuts in the industry, traded "life-style" for servitude, and lost our retirement. All of this occurred while ALPA watched. Those are the reasons USAPA exists, and regardless of what happens with seniority, we will not rest until ALPA is off the property.
"Fine" you ask, "how does this affect me, a West pilot?" It affects you because (believe it or not) this new union, rising from the ashes and fury of the East pilots, will be there to protect you as well. It starts from the beginning, from a phrase and basic tenant in USAPA Constitution and Bylaws: "to preserve each pilotís un-merged career expectations". That phrase doesn't say East, it doesn't say West, it says, "each." It means to preserve pay. It means to preserve status. It means to address a pilot's pre-merged, quantifiable attrition expectations. It means to preserve base. It means, "what you had before will be protected." These are just some of the protections a West pilot will have with USAPA; protections a West pilot does not and will not have with ALPA.
It is USAPA's belief (shared by many) that there is another merger coming. In fact, we believe the deal's already done. With this in mind, a concern in every pilot's mind (East and West) will be seniority integration in the next merger. With the Nicolau award in place, precedence is set wherein no emphasis is placed on length of service with regard to placement on the "seniority" list. Nicolau followed earlier precedence and protected widebody flying. So the West pilot, with a Nicolau precedence in place, will in the next merger, face the following challenges:
  • A vastly larger "opposing" pilot group
  • A position of being "purchased"
  • The purchasing airline is not in bankruptcy nor in danger thereof
  • Numerous financial statements and public comments from Company officers that the West operation is in trouble financially
  • A significantly larger number of widebody aircraft that will be protected
  • A Nicolau precedence wherein length of service is essentially ignored
  • The purchasing airline's pilots will be represented by ALPA
All of these issues will be faced by the West pilot in the next merger, likely coming in 2008; and without USAPA they will be faced with Nicolau precedence and only ALPA merger policy behind them. ALPA merger policy, the West pilot should recall, offers them no protection, sets no guidelines, gives them no guarantees; it offers only a process wherein the two sides negotiate, then it is handed to an arbitrator - this while National watches from on-high. Though they are loath to admit it, ALPA does not actually have a merger policy; all they have is a merger process. Within the process is some "feel good language" designed to give you the impression that there are protections and policies, but in the end, as has been stated by Prater on numerous occasions, ALPA merely administers a process, steps back, and watches the fur fly. They can't become involved because, after all, they represent both sides. (The very reason it is time for the US Airways pilots to have their own union!) According to ALPA "merger policy," an agreement which resulted in a seniority integration arranged by hair color would be fair, so long as the process was followed. ALPA holds up its "merger policy" which leads inevitably to arbitration, then blames the respective pilot groups for the outcome, an outcome which is a direct result of the policy. Bearing in mind the above challenges that will be faced by the West pilot in the coming merger, ALPA "merger policy" offers nothing in the form of protection.
Consider instead the West pilots' position with USAPA representing the pilot group. ALPA merger policy is designed strictly for ALPA vs. ALPA mergers, and does not apply to ALPA vs. Independent mergers. A high priority during negotiations with the Company will be the renegotiation of contractual protections in the event of a merger; such provisions are binding upon the Company. (You haven't, by the way, heard a word about this from ALPA, have you?) However, prior to successful negotiation of said provisions, merger seniority integration would be governed by Sections 2, 3 and 13 of the Allegheny-Mohawk Labor Protective Provisions. ALPA merger policy will no longer be applicable, since that policy is restricted in its application to mergers between two ALPA-represented carriers. The Allegheny-Mohawk Labor Protective Provisions are (at this juncture) superior in the protection they provide (vs. ALPA's "protections") to the US Airways pilots. (ref)
Further, with USAPA, the West pilot (and the East pilot) will be represented by a Collective Bargaining Agent that has enshrined in its Constitution and Bylaws definitive language that preserves "each pilotís un-merged career expectations." This is much stronger language and protection than anything ALPA "merger policy" contains.
Though few of the West pilots believe it now, USAPA will be here for all pilots, East and West. We will be here (unlike ALPA) representing only the interests of US Airways pilots, offering definitive and quantifiable policies and protections, while ALPA offers only feel good language and process, caring not about results. USAPA does not care what is good for National, does not care what is good for CO, DAL, NWA, UAL or others, cares only about what's good for US Airways pilots and offers (finally) the right for the pilots to decide.
We are about choice, and you, the West pilot (just like the East pilot) will finally have control over your future, unconstrained by the mandates of a National "union" concerned only with its own survival. With USAPA, you will be guaranteed the right to ratify; in fact, only the pilots will have this power. With USAPA, you will have a representative from your seniority group, representing your interests. With USAPA, you will have a professional negotiator at the table, facing the Company's professional negotiator. With USAPA you will have a union that will not be pressured by artificial deadlines and contrived urgency. With USAPA, you will have a union that fully recognizes the needs of all US Airways pilots to work under an industry-leading agreement; one that addresses not just compensation, but also addresses safety and fatigue, along with quality of life, time with family, benefits and retirement. With USAPA you will have a simplified, more efficient and more responsive committee structure. With USAPA you will no longer be supporting a bloated National bureaucracy, and the National gravy train will be eliminated. And because of the above efficiencies, with USAPA, your representation will cost you less.
We believe that recent events, meetings and correspondence prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that National is not representing either the East or the West; they are representing only National. Soon, the choice will be yours; a bloated bureaucracy concerned only with its own survival, or a dedicated group of representatives concerned only with changing the status quo for the better, and most importantly, a new union, beholden to no one, serving only the US Airways pilots.
Ironically, you will have this choice because USAPA exists. Finally, it's up to the pilots to decide.
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