¶ … history of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) and its achievements throughout its seventy years. Safety regulations, issues of aviation concern, and milestones in union negotiations are discussed.
THE AIR LINE PILOTS ASSOCIATION
With the recent terrorist attacks in the United States, airline safety has been of top concern. Six months ago airport security was seldom discussed except perhaps in an article tucked in a newspaper or magazine. Now it's a top story on the evening news every night. It makes us wonder if anyone has been thinking of our safety until now.
The Airline Pilots Association has always been thinking of our safety. From metal detectors in airports to the 'fasten seat belt' signs on airliners, the APLA was responsible.
The ALPA is regarded as the leader in safety issues concerning all areas of aviation
The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) not only helps with safety issues and investigations, but is solely devoted to the welfare of the pilots and their duty to their passengers (http://www.alpa.org/internet/about.html). The Air Line Pilots Association represents pilots in every aspect from Congressional hearings to accident investigations. The ALPA has existed for over 70 years and also represents Canadian pilots. However, the United States and Canada are not the only countries with a pilots association. Pilot associations exist all over the world and all have the same objective -- to represent the pilots' welfare (http://www.alpa.org/internet/about.html).
On August 10, 1931, the Air Line Pilots Association was chartered by William Green who was then president of the American Federation of Labor. The union was made up primarily of pilot groups that provided service to and from Chicago's Midway Airport
Many of the airlines represented by the ALPA have come and gone since 1931, but the issues concerned at the time of the Air Line Pilots Association's birth are still major concerns of modern pilots: weather, fatigue, maintenance, comfort of passengers, pilot pushing, and more (http://www.alpa.org/internet/news/1996news/NR96029.htm).
The Air Line Pilots Association is chartered by the American Federation of Labor -- Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and represents 67,000 airline pilots from 47 United States and Canadian airlines. It devotes more than twenty percent of its dues income to support aviation safety (http://www.alpa.org/internet/about.html). More than six hundred working airline pilots serve on local and national safety committees and are assisted by a staff of professional aeronautics engineers and safety experts. The ALPA accident investigators assist the National Transportation Safety Board at the on-site investigations of most major airline accidents and participate in any public hearings that may ensue. U.S. airline travel is the safest mode of transportation due to the Air Line Pilots Association's initiation and participation in most of the numerous safety improvements over the years (http://www.alpa.org/internet/about.html).
The Air Line Pilots Association is divided into 'pilot groups' with each group consisting of all the pilots at a given airline. These groups govern their own internal affairs and each has a Master Executive Council that is composed of two or three elected representatives from each of the pilot group's Local Councils (http://www.alpa.org/internet/about.html). The Board of Directors, which sets major policies, is comprised of the Local Council representatives from all of the pilot groups. The Air Line Pilots Association has four national officers -- president, vice president, vice president of administration, and vice president of finance. The Association's offices are in Washington, D.C. And Herndon, Virginia (http://www.alpa.org/internet/about.html).
The Air Line Pilots Association has a strict code of ethics that include duties, responsibilities, conduct and loyalty. A pilot's first and greatest responsibility is for the safety, comfort, and well being of his passengers (http://www.alpa.org/internet/about.html). His conduct both on duty and off should instill and merit the confidence and respect of his crew, fellow employees, and associates within the profession. Furthermore, he is expected to faithfully discharge the duty he owes the airline that employs him. His character and conduct must reflect honor and bring credit upon the profession (http://www.alpa.org/internet/about.html).
One of the first victories of the Air Line Pilots Association was the Air Mail Act of 1934. The famous "Decision 83" was among many provisions of the bill (http://twapilots.alpa.org/notable.html-ssi). This law recognized the pilots' right to unionize, to bargain collectively, and seniority rights. Furthermore, it established maximum flying times -- eight hours of flying in twenty-four hours, thirty hours in seven days, and one thousand hours...
The collective bargaining rights that airline employees have today, are protected by the Railway Labor Act (http://www.dalpa.com/public/industry.htm). Originally, the Railway Labor Act (RLA) established in 1888 by Congress, affected contract negotiations and labor disputes of only Railways. After strenuous lobbying by the Air Line Pilots Association, Congress passed Title II of the Act Specifically in 1936, which established the rights of any craft or class to bargain for rates of pay and/or working conditions. Moreover, it recognizes the principles that underlie disputes, distinguishes between different kinds of disputes, and provides methods of resolution (http://www.dalpa.com/public/industry.htm).
The security enhancements that we hear so much about today following the September 11th attacks were an issue at the forefront for the Air Line Pilots Association in 1996. ALPA's Flight Security Committee noted a number of ways in which aviation security could be improved (http://www.alpa.org/internet/news/1996news/NR96037.htm).
Among the security enhancements suggested were the purchase and implementation of explosive detection devices which meet FAA's standard, an anti-terrorist program aimed at prevention of terrorist acts including better intelligence information on such groups and individuals, and research and development on cargo container 'hardening' measures to prevent explosive devices from bringing down an airliner (http://www.alpa.org/internet/news/1996news/NR96037.htm).
Due to the September 11th attacks, the Congressional Conference Committee proposed the Airline Security Bill this past November. The Air Line Pilots Association applauded the proposals for enhanced security. The terms of the proposal represented the culmination of twenty years of the Association's work for more secure skies (http://www.alpa.org/internet/news/1997news/NR97066.htm). Some of the most urgent priorities for strengthening airline security were proposed. These included the increase in Federal Air Marshals, fortification of cockpit doors, and pilot training to allow firearms in the cockpit. Perhaps the most important proposal cited was federalizing the process for screening passengers and related security responsibilities. This will now provide the highest level of security by making these practices uniform and consistent throughout the nation's air-transportation system (http://www.alpa.org/internet/news/1997news/NR97066.htm). All screening personnel must be U.S. citizens, have a high school diploma, and be English-speaking. Furthermore, as part of the nation's civil service system, screeners will now earn respectable compensation (http://www.alpa.org/internet/news/1997news/NR97066.htm).
This is certainly a great victory for the Air Line Pilots Association and should greatly boost the public's confidence in air travel. "This new legislation will yield the most significant enhancements to security aboard airplanes and in airports in many years,"
Said Captain Duane Woerth, President of the Air Line Pilots Association.
The Air Line Pilots Association has been one of the leading aviation safety advocates since its founding. A network of six hundred working airline pilots, form local and national committees that provide a constant source of monitoring and feedback (http://www.alpa.org/internet/news/1997news/NR97066.htm). ALPA's safety accomplishments range from signs requesting passengers to keep their seat belts fastened while seated, to a successful twenty-five-year campaign to place airborne anti-collision equipment in every passenger airliner (http://www.alpa.org/internet/news/1997news/NR97066.htm). ALPA's Flight Security led the fight for numerous improved security measures including airport x-ray magnetometers and the standard anti-hijacking program used by all airline crews (http://www.alpa.org/internet/news/1997news/NR97066.htm).
The Air Line Pilots Association "One Level of Safety" campaign resulted in important changes to bring commuter airline operations up to the same safety standards as those of larger aircraft (http://www.alpa.org/internet/news/1997news/NR97066.htm). The ALPA is still pursuing "One Level of Safety" for other types of airline operations, such as freight carriers. Furthermore, the Air Line Pilots Association has worked with industry and government groups to focus on the hazards of bird ingestion by jet engines
In 1996, The Air Line Pilots Association won a victory regarding the 'Age 60 Rule' issue involving mandatory requirement age for pilots. This issue had been debated for over two decades and finally came to an end with a Congressional Amendment
The Air Line Pilots Association has championed all aspects of aviation safety throughout every segment of the aviation community. It is years ahead of lawmakers in promoting safety regulations and suggestions (http://www.alpa.org/internet/news/1997news/NR97066.htm). Often it takes an act such as September 11th to reach deaf ears. If the safety and security measures that ALPA sounded years ago had been in place, one wonders if such an attack would have been possible.
The Air Line Pilots Association has an impressive past of accomplishments and achievements. Its dedication to the safety and welfare of the public, pilots, and all aviation personnel is the objective of its mission. There are few, if any, organizations or associations that can state such a list of achievements as can the ALPA. There is no reason to doubt that this same integrity and loyalty to its mission that the Air Line Pilots
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