APA President CA Dan Carey: Take a Minute for Safety — If You Feel Pushed, Don’t Push
APA President Dan Carey sent the following message to the membership on Thursday:
When I took office as your president in July 2016, I made clear to senior management my willingness to exploit opportunities for mutual benefit. I also emphasized that we have no intention of being exploited ourselves.
To date, management has not responded with any concrete actions that would foster culture change or alter American Airlines’ dependency on bankruptcy work rules to be competitive, let alone achieve industry-leading safety practices.
Some months ago, APA proposed a series of mutually beneficial work-rule adjustments that would enhance the margin of safety and de-risk American Airlines’ operation. Unfortunately, management myopically dismissed them as a cost versus what they really are — an investment in the safety and reliability of our operation. Instead of working toward de-risking the airline, these actions have prompted a vote of no confidence by the APA Board of Directors.
At best, management’s actions are suffocating any hope for a cooperative, constructive working relationship. The growing problem is how overly rigid policies, policy policing, and retribution are decreasing the margin of safety and fertilizing the roots of a toxic culture.
Management consistently falls back on the notion that they are meeting legal minimums for safety. That is not good enough. Your safety and the safety of your passengers and crew requires more than minimal compliance with FAA regulations. You are the last line of defense against a management culture that embraces and creates policies that generate rushing to comply. Let me be clear: In our profession, rushing is dangerous and can have deadly consequences. You must exercise safety and diligence in everything you do. As any pilot worth his or her salt knows, sole reliance on the “well, it’s legal” safety decision rationale is often the first wrong move in many aircraft incidents.
Management’s insistence on self-imposed operational metrics, putting schedule integrity first — at all costs — while clinging to every ragged-edge, fatigue-producing bankruptcy work rule, and systematically violating our contract and FAR 117 rules, exposes our crews to dangerous levels of fatigue and reduces our operation's safety margin.
Bare minimum compliance with the FAA standards is clearly not in line with American Airlines’ Safety Policy, which states: Safety must be the first and foremost consideration in every facet of our company. Additionally, this policy requires individual commitment to keeping safety as the foremost priority and affirms that it “is the responsibility of each and every one of us — from managers to front-line employees.”
This is where the APA line-pilot leadership comes in. As Wilbur Wright sagely counseled, “Do not let yourself be forced into doing anything before you are ready.” In our operations dialect: Take a minute for safety. If you feel pushed, don't push.
Click here to review other observations on the following topics:
- Management’s D-0 (on-time departure) at all costs and the safety margin
- Nearly 20,000 standby passengers left behind at the gate
- Vacation float results: Nearly 50,000 days/7,000 weeks
- Premium flying — Fly smarter, not harder
Media Highlights Left-Behind Standby Passengers
In his “Take a Minute for Safety” message, APA President CA Dan Carey revealed that American Airlines left nearly 20,000 standby passengers at the gate last month because of management’s D-0/D-10 (jet bridge door closing) binary measure of operational success.
“While our union brother and sister gate agents are under extraordinary pressure to close the jet bridge and aircraft doors no matter what, we must do everything possible to ensure that no passengers are left behind while seats are empty,” he wrote.
This portion of CA Carey’s message inspired stories by The Street and The Associated Press.
Norwegian Air International Fight Continues
During this week’s APA Board of Directors special meeting, the Government Affairs Committee invited officials from the Air Line Pilots Association, Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association, NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots, Transport Workers Union, and Association of Professional Flight Attendants to help brief our board on the Norwegian Air International issue. As APA President CA Dan Carey emphasized in his opening remarks to the board, flag-of-convenience has had a profoundly negative impact on U.S. maritime shipping, while the Irish government has publicly stated its intention for Ireland to serve as the “Liberia of commercial aviation.” CA Carey reiterated APA’s firm commitment to taking part in the fight with our brothers and sisters across the industry to save the airline pilot profession in the United States. He emphasized the need for more APA pilots to support the APA Political Action Committee, characterizing the current 12 percent participation rate as “terrible.”
LAX-based 737 FO Anders Bertilsson, a native Swede, recently reached out to his domicile representatives to share his perspective on Norwegian Air International. An avid follower of European airline news coverage, he informed his representatives that other carriers are poised to adopt the flag-of-convenience scheme if Norwegian Air International proves successful, including SAS (the flag carrier of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark). We captured FO Bertilsson’s remarks in a brief video, which we encourage you to watch.
Who’s Missing on This List of Top Airlines to Work For?
On Thursday, the website Investopedia published an article called “Top 4 Airlines to Work For in 2017.” Author Sheila Olson writes, “There are 12 major U.S. airlines and a plethora of regional carriers to choose from if you’re looking for a new career in the air industry. Are you wondering who has the happiest employees?” Give her list a read and see if you can figure out who’s missing and why.
Open Skies Ad Still Airing on Trump’s Favorite Shows
A TV commercial produced by the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies, which includes APA, is scheduled to air for two more weeks on Fox & Friends and Morning Joe, two programs that President Trump reportedly enjoys. In the commercial, the Partnership calls on Trump to enforce our trade agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar to protect America’s aviation workers.
APA Board of Directors Special Meeting Recap
The APA Board of Directors met for three days at union headquarters in Fort Worth this week.
TUESDAY: The board spent the morning in caucus and convened shortly after 3 p.m. for this week’s special meeting. The delayed start was designed to enable the board, national officers, committee members, and staff to attend a memorial service for Linda Compton, who served for many years as a senior manager in the APA Benefits Department.
APA President CA Dan Carey began his opening remarks by asking all present to observe a moment of silence for Ms. Compton. He also congratulated DFW Domicile Vice Chairman FO Josey Wales for his impending captain upgrade, thanked outgoing LAX Domicile Chairman CA Graeham White and Vice Chairman CA Craig Railsback for their service, and briefly reviewed the meeting agenda.
CA Carey then shifted focus to the serious threat posed by Norwegian Air International, citing the profoundly negative impact that flag-of-convenience has had on U.S. maritime shipping and the Irish government’s publicly stated intention to serve as the “Liberia of commercial aviation.” He reiterated APA’s firm commitment to taking part in the fight to save the airline pilot profession in the United States and emphasized the need for more APA pilots to support the APA Political Action Committee, characterizing the current 12 percent participation rate as “terrible.” He also cited the threat posed by the Gulf state carriers, which enjoy extensive government subsidies that insulate them from any meaningful competition.
In addition, CA Carey recapped the union’s objectives for 2017, which include full implementation of the joint collective bargaining agreement, the long rate rig previously promised by senior management, length of service restoration, and elimination of the means test for long-term disability. He thanked the APA pilots — in all, 82 percent of the total pilot group — who complied with APA’s request to not float vacation. CA Carey closed by stating that “the only way to make improvements is with a 15,000-pilot negotiating committee: 2017 is our year.”
APA Secretary-Treasurer CA Pam Torell briefed the board on a series of items, including the fiscal year 2018 budget that is now being developed; the proportion of all union spending on flight pay loss, benefits, and pay to max expenses, which for January 2017 was 44.17 percent of membership monthly dues; and a series of non-budgeted items for the current fiscal year 2017 totaling $550,000. Also, CA Torell noted that the minutes for the fall 2016 Board of Directors meeting and for voting conference calls on Nov. 29, 2016, Jan. 26, 2017, and Feb. 13, 2017, were awaiting board approval. She also allocated a portion of her presentation to a preliminary demonstration by the Compensation ad hoc Committee about how SharePoint could be adapted to track volunteers’ time and increase accountability.
Also Tuesday, the board set aside a few minutes for a check presentation to Ulysses Griffin, a DFW Airport bus driver who was critically injured in a Dec. 30 accident. APA presented Mr. Griffin with a check for $26,911 raised by the pilots of APA to help offset his medical expenses. Presenting the check to Mr. Griffin and his fiancée were CA Bob Steven, who was a passenger on Mr. Griffin's bus and helped him until paramedics arrived. CA Carey and FO Wales also participated in the check presentation.
The board approved the following motions Tuesday: to change the agenda to accommodate a board strategy session before recessing that afternoon; to approve the four sets of minutes enumerated by CA Torell; and to hold this year’s spring meeting in DFW.
WEDNESDAY: The day’s first agenda item was an economic and financial analysis decision briefing by Negotiating Committee Chairman CA Don Iorio, who detailed for the board the process that led to the retention of the Air Line Pilots Association’s economic and financial analysis services. CA Iorio noted that economic and financial analysis supports the APA membership “on all matters related to the economic portions of our collective bargaining agreement — compensation, work rules, and [the company’s] ability to pay.” The different courses of action under consideration were 1) an internal APA department, 2) an external agency with internal department representative, or 3) an external agency. After assessing each of these options, CA Iorio and the other participants in the review process concluded that retaining ALPA E&FA would provide the best overall value to the membership.
The next presentation was by Blue Engine Message & Media, a Washington, D.C.-based public relations agency. APA circulated a request for proposal in January to five public relations agencies. The agencies under consideration were then vetted by the Public Relations Research ad hoc Committee, the Communications Committee, and the Communications Department, with Blue Engine Message & Media emerging as the top pick. APA’s request for proposal emphasized the need for greater membership engagement and unity as part of achieving the union’s stated goal of securing a mid-contract adjustment. APA has also cited the need for assistance in the fight against Norwegian Air International.
Government Affairs Committee FO Shawn Gray and other members of that committee briefed the board on a series of issues, including Norwegian Air International, the pilot shortage, rumors about another increase in pilot retirement age, and the “Cadillac Tax” on high-value health care plans in the Affordable Care Act. FO Gray indicated that, to the best of his knowledge, there is no substance to any rumor about a change in the mandatory pilot retirement age. He also noted that the proposed GOP replacement for the Affordable Care Act contains language deferring the Cadillac Tax for several more years.
To discuss the challenges surrounding Norwegian Air International, the Government Affairs Committee was joined by:
- International Alliance Committee Chairman FO Rob Baker and members of that committee;
- Delta CA Don Wycoff, longtime ALPA official and former IFALPA President
- Elizabeth Baker, ALPA Director of Government Affairs
- CA Chip Hancock, Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman for the Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association
- CA Coley George, Director of Industry Affairs for the NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots
- Brian Golden, Transport Workers Union Local 514
- Julie Frederick, Government Affairs Representative for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants
A portion of that discussion took place in executive session.
The board also spent a portion of the afternoon in executive session with General Counsel and APA Legal. In addition, the board approved a motion authorizing CA Carey to spend a total of $248,000 (which includes funds already spent) to compensate “the reasonable attorney’s fees and reasonable expenses incurred in arbitrating and preparing closing briefs” for four grievances.
THURSDAY: In the day’s first order of business, the board voted unanimously to amend the fiscal year 2017 budget to retain Blue Engine Message & Media, a Washington, D.C.-based public relations agency, for the remainder of the current fiscal year.
Retirement and Benefits Committee Chairman FO Brian Bell and committee member FO Kimber Clark updated the board on the committee’s development of a leave guide for our members covering sick, maternity, and various other leave-related items. FO Clark — a registered nurse who is also a member of the Aeromedical Committee, where the project originated — agreed to develop the guide, which is now in the vetting phase.
Benefits Review and Appeals Board Chairman FO Steve Conlon and Director of Benefits Mike Knoerr gave an update on the Supplemental Medical Plan and other APA benefit plans. The BRAB report noted that several board members have asked about an open enrollment for APA members who are older than age 55 and no longer eligible to join the SMP. The board approved a related motion directing the BRAB “to study the feasibility and impact of conducting an Open Enrollment Period on the APA Voluntary Supplemental Medical Benefit Plan (SMP) and to report back to the APA Board of Directors at their earliest opportunity. This Open Enrollment Period shall be limited to APA members who are active (including sick and disabled) at any point during the Open Enrollment Window.”
At the BRAB’s recommendation, the board also approved a motion directing the BRAB “to develop a plan to provide primary retiree medical coverage under the APA Voluntary Supplemental Medical Benefit Plan (SMP) for Pilots retiring prior to age 65 and spouses of retired APA Members and to report back to the APA Board of Directors at their earliest opportunity. This plan shall include SMP conversion to a retiree medical plan for both pre-age 65 and age 65 and older retirees, coverage for surviving spouses and younger spouses of retirees age 65 and older, an improved primary dental benefit with an increased annual plan maximum, and a revised deductible/contribution structure.”
Compensation ad hoc Committee members CA Pete Gamble and CA Jeff Thurstin briefed the board on how having permanent staff providing greater support to key committees could enable APA to reduce overall spending.
Contract Compliance Committee Chairman CA John Karam briefed the board on a robust contact management solution to monitor and manage membership contacts. Telephone conversations make up the great majority of APA’s contacts with its members, with an average of 15,000-20,000 calls each month. Contact management software would enable the union to properly capture and organize a large volume of data. By doing so, we would be better equipped to identify and track pay and work rule violations and defend our members’ contractual rights. Following CA Karam’s briefing, the board unanimously approved a motion authorizing APA President CA Dan Carey &ldquot;to expend funds up to the amount of $1,000,000 to deploy a Contact Management Solution as briefed in the executive summary provided by Converge One.”
The board spent a portion of the day in executive session, and also approved the following additional motions:
- A motion “to authorize the President to donate $15,000 to Clement E. Furlong Ph.D. at the University of Washington for his ongoing research on the effect of fumes on airline crew members and passengers.”
- A motion to adopt Tasking Order #2017-1.
Hawaiian Pilots Approve Contract Through June 2022
Did you know Hawaiian Airlines pilots approved a five-year deal that will immediately increase their pay by at least 20 percent? Did you know Mesa Air Group pilots voted to move their contract negotiations to mediation? Did you know American Airlines mechanics have added yet another tentative agreement to a list that numbers more than two dozen? You would if you were reading our Labor News blog, which covers contract negotiations, picketing events, and any other developments regarding relations between other labor groups and airlines’ management.
LAX Domicile Launches Three New Videos
Our LAX domicile has released three new videos in which CA Scott Bourquin talks to LAX Contract Compliance Committee members CA Jim Cowee and CA Jim Crossman (the LAX Domicile Chairman-Elect) about Technology and Strategy, Understanding MOT, and Open Time Coverage.
Are You Following APA on Social Media?
APA is active on Facebook and Twitter (both of which featured photos from the EWR rally just hours after they were taken), and we’re dipping our toe into Instagram as well. So be sure to follow us on all of these social media channels, so you can help us amplify stories like this:
APA Delegation Attends NATCA Safety Conference
Ray Duke, CA Art Hyatt, CA Pat McGinn, CA Doug Wood, and FO Clark Walker
Members of the APA Professional Standards Committee attended the National Air Traffic Controllers Association’s Communicating for Safety conference this week in Las Vegas. The conference focuses on safety, technology, and building relationships with other aviation professionals. Representing APA were Professional Standards Committee Chairman CA Doug Wood, committee members CA Art Hyatt, CA Pat McGinn, and FO Clark Walker, and Ray Duke, APA’s Director of Safety, Training, Security, Aeromedical, and Professional Standards.
Pilot Retirements in January and February
We would like to recognize and congratulate the following pilots who retired in January and February of this year: CA Philip Amrhein, CA Anton Averbeck, CA Joel Bell, CA Robert Berke, CA Rene Blanco-Lopez, CA Michael Cadem, CA Raymond Casey, CA Scott Davis, CA Albert De Shaw, CA Henry Degraaff, CA Robert Delaney, FO James Dyson, CA Kenneth Forrest, CA Gregory Girard, FO Hans Glotvold, CA Robert Grauer, CA Kevin Hansen, CA Dennis Harmon, CA David Haugen, FO Kathleen Hayes, CA Lother Henderson, CA Don Hollerbach, FO Douglas Houghton, FO David Jackson, CA E Johnston, CA David Jones, FO AJ Kipling, CA Michael Kleckner, FO William Labutta, FO Kenneth Lee, CA Robert Little, CA Lynn Long, FO Robert Lynch, FO Frederick Mack, CA Robert Mashack, CA Roger Mason, FO Bart Mathews, CA Daniel McNeil, CA Michael Nooney, FO Frank Orner, CA Jeffrey Paruszewski, FO Frank Pate, CA David Rathbun, CA Kenneth Sager, CA Phillip Sollenberger, FO Lawrence Spitser, CA David Tribout, FO Richard Wagner, CA Richard Wargin, CA Kenneth Webb, CA Jeffrey Welty, FO David White, FO Frederick Wilcoxon, CA Dennis Wilkins, and CA Edward Zumstein.
Have You Updated the Date of Your First-Class Medical Certificate?
Last year, American Airlines communicated that all first-class medical certificates would be valid until the end of the month of exam, regardless of age or bid status, but it is incumbent upon the pilot to update the date of their medical certificate to the last day of the appropriate month.
Unfortunately, many pilots are unaware of the need to do this and have been removed from sequences (pairings) because the system is still reading their certificates as expired or expiring. Until this change is made to the date, through either Sabre or DECS, you will continue to receive erroneous messages that your medical is expiring.
Concourse Conversations at CLT on March 28-29
The APA Communications and Family Awareness Committees will host members from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on March 28 and 29 in the Piedmont Auditorium at CLT.
This is for all pilots, whether you are CLT-based, passing through, or just interested in meeting members of APA’s leadership. We are also looking for volunteers for the National Communications Network and for Family Awareness coordinators.
Please make plans to come by, pick up a $10 voucher accepted by virtually all of the airport’s vendors, get some questions answered, and find ways you can help support your union.
Questions? Contact Family Awareness Committee Chairman FO Doug Hancock at firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-737-6330.
Family Awareness Will be at Sun ’n Fun on April 4-9
The APA Family Awareness Committee will have a large, comfortable hospitality area at the Sun ’n Fun International Fly-In & Expo in Lakeland, Fla., April 4-9. We plan to host meet and greets from 5 to 8 p.m. each evening, and someone will be on site at all times. If you’re planning to attend Sun ’n Fun, be sure to stop by.
Questions? Contact Family Awareness Committee Chairman FO Doug Hancock at email@example.com or 704-737-6330.
BOS Election Update
Ballots for the Domicile Vice Chairman election and candidates’ resumes were mailed to BOS members last week. If you spoil or do not receive your ballot, please contact the APA Elections Department at 800-323-1470 ext. 2175 or 817-302-2175, and a new ballot will be requested for you. The candidates are:
FO Charles Hill
FO Mark Percy
The deadline for ballots to be returned is 9 a.m. Central on March 31. The tally will begin one hour later at APA headquarters in Fort Worth.
LUS West Short-Term Disability Plan to Expire
Under the MOU, LUS West pilots’ short-term disability plan will expire on March 31, 2017. Any pilot covered by this plan that incurs a disability before or on March 31 will be covered. Disabilities occurring after March 31 will be covered in accordance with the Employee Benefit Guide.
With the loss of the short-term disability policy, LUS West pilots should consider enrolling in APA’s Pilot Mutual Aid Plan (PMA), which provides short-term monthly benefit payments to qualified participants who are disabled following the completion of the elimination period, which is the later of:
- 60 consecutive days following the onset of disability, or
- The exhaustion of designated Company-paid sick and vacation time
There are some benefit exclusions and limitations that apply to pilots joining PMA for the first time or increasing their monthly benefit. Click here for more information.
Upcoming “Future Pilot Forums”
FAPA.aero is hosting a series of “Future Pilot Forums” to educate aspiring pilots about pathways to professional pilot careers. These free forums are open to aspiring pilots of all ages, including career changers, military transitioning pilots, and students, as well as family members, teachers, and counselors:
Saturday, March 25, 2017
Saturday, April 22, 2017
Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017
Click here to register to attend in person or to view portions of the event, which will be posted in our video library after its conclusion.