World’s Largest Pilots’ Union Claims Bargaining
OK, there may be some poetic justice at work here... in which a
well-known aviation-oriented union has troubles... with its own
According to the unionized employees of the Airline Pilot's
Association, management 'elected to unilaterally impose new work
rules on their unionized Unit 1 professional staff after contract
negotiations between the two failed to produce an agreement. ALPA
asserts the parties were at an impasse and that ALPA had the
ability to simply and unilaterally impose new work rules. Unit 1
disputes this contention.'
“This type of intransigent behavior is what ALPA fights
against on behalf of its members every single day,” said Jay
Wells, president of Unit 1 of the Union of Air Line Pilots
Association Professional and Administrative Employees (UALPAPAE).
“For the world’s largest pilots’ union to impose
non-negotiated work rules on its own staff merely because it was
unable to reach a consensual agreement on its own timetable is
“ALPA is quick to point out
its continual support of the labor movement and its successes in
its negotiations with airline management,” Wells said,
“but when it comes to its own staff, ALPA management is more
about ‘do as I say, not as I do.’”
In a company-wide memo distributed March 20, ALPA management
laid out its case for a two-year, cost-neutral contract that would
sustain the association’s financial viability during this
current economic downturn. However, when ALPA management came to
the negotiating table and realized Unit 1’s willingness to
achieve that cost-neutral goal, Unit 1 contends that management
negotiators demanded more than they needed.
The two sides failed to reach an agreement prior to the March 31
deadline of Unit 1’s contract, and both agreed to mediation.
When mediation culminated in mid-April, ALPA’s “last,
best, final offer” was rejected by Unit 1 negotiators and
Unit 1 members passed a resolution to extend the deadline to allow
continued mediation, hoping management would agree to stronger job
security language in exchange for Unit 1’s agreement to meet
management’s demand to scale back accrued retiree health plan
benefits. That extension allowed ALPA to hold it’s regularly
scheduled Executive Board meeting and conduct its vote to merge
with the National Pilots Association, which represents the pilots
Unit 1 negotiators returned to the table April 30 with
additional concessions. However, ALPA negotiators came to the table
with nothing but the same “last, best, final offer”
they had last presented.
“Unit 1 understands the need
for concessions and is willing to do what is necessary to help
ensure ALPA’s financial stability,” said Wells.
“However, Unit 1 staff is not willing, nor should they be
required, to sacrifice much-needed work rule enhancements that are
standard in union contracts nation-wide and in every ALPA contract
that is negotiated on behalf of our members.” When no deal
was reached, on May 7 ALPA unilaterally imposed changes in work
rules and imposed cuts in the staff’s health retirement
benefits over the objections of Unit 1.
In March, Unit 1 filed a charge of unfair labor practices
against ALPA management with the National Labor Relations Board.
The in-house union contends ALPA management failed to meet its
obligation to disclose information requested by Unit 1 about
ALPA’s plan to conduct employee layoffs in early 2009. Unit 1
also claims ALPA management failed to meet its obligation to
bargain over the planned layoffs in violation of Sections 8(a)(1)
and (5) of the National Labor Relations Act.
The nearly 60 year old Unit 1 of UALPAPAE represents nearly 170
staffers, including labor lawyers, economic analysts, retirement
specialists, air safety engineers and communications practitioners
at ALPA. ALPA represents 54,000 pilots at 36 airlines in North