Friday, May 09, 2008

Union allocates multi-million dollar 'war chest' to pilots at Continental and United Airlines

ALPA logoThis week, the Executive Board of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the largest pilots' union in North America, passed a resolution authorizing the allocation of $5 million each to the ALPA units at United Airlines and Continental Airlines as a 'war chest' to help them respond to "the increasing assaults on their rightful role in helping to shape events that affect their careers and their airlines." The authorization was announced by ALPA’s president, Capt. John Prater, in a news release issued on May 8, 2008.

Capt. Prater explained that the intention of the move by the ALPA Executive Board is to put "massive resources in the hands of our union leaders when they need such support."

The money will come from ALPA's Major Contingency Fund (MCF), an $80 million cash reserve designated to provide pilot groups the resources they need to respond to "extraordinary threats to the profession and to their careers." ALPA's news release included statements by the chairmen of the ALPA Master Executive Council (MEC) at each of the two airlines.

Capt. Jay Pierce, chairman of the Continental MEC, said, "Access to the monies from the ALPA Major Contingency Fund will provide us with the additional resources needed to secure an improved contract for our pilots. As we enter contract negotiations under the Railway Labor Act, we will be well positioned to battle for the advancements we're seeking through increased compensation, strengthened work rules, and other long-needed improvements. The Continental pilots have given more than $200 million in concessions each year since April 2005 to help secure the future of Continental. It's time that we have security for our own futures."

United MEC chairman, Capt. Steve Wallach, noted, "The United pilots were the first major contributors to the Major Contingency Fund in 1985. This is the first time we have tapped into the fund, and we recognize the foresight of the pilots who realized the need for an MCF in battles that benefit the entire industry. United pilots have always taken the lead to ensure the long-term viability and survival of our airline, and the use of the MCF is another step in that direction."

Capt. Prater said the message to the airline industry is, "Managements that include pilots in their business planning, whether they choose a stand-alone path or decide to merge, can succeed. Those who try to exclude us will fail. We are airline pilots who are determined and committed to restoring our contracts as the foundation of our profession."

The money in the 'war chests' is to be used for "strategic preparedness, communications, and family awareness efforts" by the two ALPA units.