The Straight & Level
Misinformation is proliferating from our company union. Click on the inaccurate assertions below to learn the facts.
"A merger would necessitate the voluntary transfer of all membership assets to ALPA. More than $68M of unrestricted liquidity would be handed over, with a net return to our newly formed MEC of an estimated $16M."
Neither the APA-ALPA Exploratory Committee's report or their presentation definitively say what will happen to APA's current liquidity of $68M. In past mergers between company unions and ALPA, the newly formed MEC made a small contribution to the major contingency fund and kept the rest of their assets for the sole use of their pilot group.
"A merger would result in initial membership dues rising by 85%, while only 36% of our pilots' dues would be allocated back to a new MEC from ALPA national."
From January 2000 to May 2023, the average dues at APA were 1.32%. The current dues rate at ALPA is 1.85% and is adjusted (up or down) at the Board of Directors meeting, which is next scheduled for 2024. Historically, an increase in membership reduces ALPA dues. However, if an MEC is financially responsible, a dues refund may be made to the membership of that carrier. This can effectively lower the dues rate.
Currently, 57% of all ALPA dues paid are allocated to the ALPA Administrative and Support (A&S) Account, and 37.5% of each pilot group’s dues are allocated to their respective MEC Account. The A&S Account funds the majority of the resources the Merger Exploratory Committee concluded would add significant value to the representation of the American Pilots.
The Air Canada Pilots Association (ACPA) negotiated to have the expenses of the vast majority of their staff funded by the ALPA A&S Account and not the Air Canada MEC Account4,5 in their merger with ALPA in early 2023. All ACPA employees received offers of employment with ALPA with at least the same salary prior to the ACPA-ALPA merger, which is consistent with other mergers between company unions and ALPA.
"The narrative that two-thirds of the pilot group want to merge with ALPA is simply not accurate. Only 53% of the overall pilot group chose to participate in the survey that was conducted last Fall.”
The “narrative” that two-thirds of the pilot group want to see what a merger between APA and ALPA could look like comes from Mr. Phil Comstock. He is the professional who conducts contract surveys for the APA BOD. In November 2022, Mr. Comstock advised the APA BOD the survey response rate provided “good, reliable results” that are representative of the American Pilots and recommended creating a merger exploratory process. The APA-ALPA Merger Exploratory Committee concluded the only way to fully explore a merger between APA and ALPA was to negotiate a merger agreement for BOD and membership consideration, which was the main driver of their unanimous recommendation to proceed to “Phase 2” of the process.
“The committee’s report showed APA to be superior in critical areas that help our pilots daily: Benefits, Aeromedical, Government Affairs, Compass Project, and others.”
The treatment of APA’s current resources in an APA-ALPA merger can only be determined by negotiating a merger agreement, which was a factor behind the Merger Exploratory Committee's unanimous recommendation to proceed to "Phase 2" of the process.
The Committee reached three valuable conclusions regarding resources at APA and ALPA:
- ALPA’s professional and technical resources would add value to the representation of the American pilots “above and beyond” APA as it exists today.
- APA is unlikely to replicate the value-added from ALPA under APA’s current dues structure.
- APA should seek to preserve the current service available to the American pilots during a merger negotiation to achieve added value from ALPA while not sacrificing its current services.
“APA would be voluntarily ceding our autonomy on major policy matters and diluting our independent voice in government affairs.”
APA needs to negotiate an APA-ALPA merger to have a full picture of what government affairs advocacy for American Pilots could look like in an ALPA merger. Autonomy comes at a cost: Remaining a company union blocks affiliation with the AFL-CIO and full voting membership in IFALPA, which dilutes the voice of the American Pilots in government affairs and international policy matters at ICAO.
The Merger Exploratory Committee concluded that giving APA’s Government Affairs Committee access to ALPA’s Government Affairs Department resources “would create an even more formidable force for pilot advocacy." The Committee also recommended maintaining a separate PAC for the American Pilots and negotiating a mechanism to maintain participation in and financial support of the Coalition of Airline Pilots Association (CAPA).
“Lastly, a merger would likely subject our pilots to increased seniority-list integration risk in the event of an industry merger.”
The APA-ALPA Merger Exploratory Committee has assessed the value in a potential seniority-list integration (SLI) outcome as largely neutral when comparing the Federal McCaskill-Bond Act and ALPA Merger Policy. The large body of historical precedent referenced by arbitrators using McCaskill-Bond and ALPA merger policy make SLI outcomes similar. As an example, the AA/US Airways SLI, which was controlled by McCaskill Bond, "applied an analysis largely interchangeable with ALPA Merger Policy.
While the SLI outcomes were assessed as neutral, the Committee identified potential added value to the American Pilots under ALPA Merger Policy due to allowing for more effective dialogue among other ALPA carriers including most of American's regional carriers.
"The Merger Exploration Committee concluded that our APA Benefits were far superior to ALPAs. While many statements were made about what “might happen,” or “could happen,” or “would be expected to happen,” with our benefit plans in a proposed merger, this was another valuable aspect of APA we were not comfortable with putting at risk for any possible negative change at this time."
Negotiating an APA-ALPA merger agreement will not result in any changes to the representation of the American Pilots without APA BOD approval followed by APA Membership ratification. A negotiated merger agreement will provide the APA BOD and American Pilots with the facts needed to make an informed choice without speculation, which was a factor behind the APA-ALPA Merger Exploratory Committee’s unanimous recommendation to move to “Phase 2.”
The FedEx Pilots (FPA) and Air Canada Pilots (ACPA) retained their benefits plans after merging into ALPA in 2001 and 2023, respectively. The Air Canada Pilots also retained their “Pilot Health Division,” which serves similar functions to APA’s Aeromedical Department.
"Effectively, the larger airlines in ALPA are subsidizing all of the smaller ones. APA, if it merged with ALPA, would take over as one of the largest subsidizers."
While the larger carriers contribute more in dues to ALPA, they benefit from a more proficient set of resources by virtue of representing a larger number of pilot groups. ALPA is always negotiating pilot contracts. ALPA is always in mediation at the National Mediation Board. ALPA is always creating Strategic Plans. ALPA is always conducting communications campaigns. ALPA is always preparing for a strike. ALPA is always enforcing contracts through the grievance process. ALPA is always valuing pilot contracts.
ALPA’s professional support staff has a wealth of experience that is difficult for a company union to replicate, regardless of its governance structure. The APA-ALPA Merger Exploratory Committee concluded these resources would add value to the representation of American Pilots “above and beyond” APA as it exists today and is unlikely to replicate this value-added under APA’s current dues structure.
“Further exploration of a merger would cost north of $200,000.”
APA spent hundreds of thousands of dollars prosecuting two National Officer Elections last year with lower turnout than the ALPA Survey. Our union can afford to follow the guidance from membership surveys and the unanimous recommendation of their chosen Subject Matter Experts regarding the future quality of our representation.
“There are certainly other policies inconsistent with the way we are currently doing business, which goes back to the primary reason why we felt a “no” vote was necessary—preserving APA’s autonomy."
Negotiating an APA-ALPA merger agreement would have given APA and ALPA leadership, the American Pilots, and ALPA Pilots the opportunity to combine the best practices of both associations into a stronger trade union. Without negotiating an agreement, we will not know what the policies under a merged APA-ALPA would have looked like immediately following the merger.