By Capt. Joe DePete, ALPA President
It comes as no surprise during these uncertain times that our global community is turning for solutions to the foundational principles of the union movement: solidarity and collective action. Even as we recognize the urgency and scale of our work ahead to protect pilots’ careers against the pandemic’s economic toll, we draw inspiration from the past progress that these principles have made possible.
In launching the “Welcome Back, Welcome Aboard” initiative, our union has charted a bold, new path to protect our pilots’ jobs and livelihoods during the COVID-19 economic downturn. With the help of every member, we’ll intensify our engagement from two strategic angles. We’re working directly to protect jobs through legislative advocacy and contract negotiations, while we’re also focused on safeguarding our members’ careers by rebuilding the public’s confidence to return to flying.
As we all know, airlines’ adherence to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for COVID-19 health monitoring, protection, exposure notification, and workplace disinfection is not only important for health and safety, it’s also key to regaining the confidence of the flying public to power a strong economic recovery for our industry.
With your help in submitting Data Action Reports (DARTs), ALPA has been able to quickly identify gaps in airline compliance and bring pressure to bear on our employers to resolve the issues. Our union has been highly successful in addressing individual noncompliance issues, but we’re not taking our companies’ conformity for granted. Our union is giving no ground as we continue to press Congress to require our airlines to do the right thing.
As the pilot-in-command, ALPA members always represent professionalism, trust, and credibility—but this is especially true now. Through our new public-awareness advocacy efforts, ALPA will be front and center in reassuring the traveling public that pilots are on the job, ready to fly, and looking forward to greeting passengers as they come back aboard. With your support, our initiative will help increase bookings, forestall additional job-status changes for pilots, and strengthen and speed our industry’s economic comeback.
The truth is, ALPA pilots never stopped flying; we’ve been doing the heavy lifting to fight the pandemic by transporting health-care personnel and supplies while using our voice to ensure that our companies were protecting our health and that of the flying public. Because of ALPA members’ dedication, we’re making progress.
Thanks to our pilots’ hard work, ALPA secured a major financial lifeline for U.S. airlines earlier this year (see "The Cares Act Update"). But we haven’t stopped there, we’re advocating for Congress to pursue additional job-protection remedies, including extending financial assistance directed toward worker payroll and benefits and securing employee protections during bankruptcy. Meanwhile, ALPA Canada has engaged every Member of Parliament to also call for any COVID relief legislation to include strong employee protections (see "From Atop Parliament Hill").
In addition, our master executive council leaders have also signed dozens of agreements to minimize the effects of the downturn on pilots’ jobs and careers. Our pilot groups have been supported by our national pilot and staff team every step of the way.
Augmenting these efforts to preserve pilot jobs and kick-start the aviation economy, ALPA’s public-awareness campaign will reinforce that airline pilots exercise pilot-in-command authority every time we fly. While the flying experience may look a little different to passengers now, one fundamental principle hasn’t changed: It’s safe to fly when your pilot says it is.
We’re encouraging the flying public to once again take to the skies. I know every ALPA pilot joins me in saying, “Welcome Back, Welcome Aboard!”