From Hiring to Retiring, the Membership Committee Looks Out for Pilots

This is the latest in a series of articles highlighting the work done by APA’s national committees. Read the rest on our Armed With the Facts webpage.

When we’re new hires, we submit applications to join the Allied Pilots Association. Our membership with the union protects us. It gives us access to APA’s aeromedical resources as well as the union’s incredible benefits plans. Our membership also gives us a voice in Washington, D.C. And while it may be as easy as submitting a quick application for us, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes of that application. That’s where the Membership Committee comes in.

“It’s a lot of busy work,” Deputy Chair CA James Marberry says. “It’s not necessarily the glamorous work, but it’s a necessary part of structuring a union.”

Membership Committee Chair CA Steve Pacheco (shown at left, hard at work) says the committee’s primary focus is taking care of new hires.

“We monitor their progression from being a non-member, to being an apprentice member, to then a full member,” he says. “We’re working with new hires until they get their Compass mentors.”

The process to becoming an APA member starts at the new hires’ Meet and Greet, which was recently moved up to day one of InDoc so pilots – and their families – know from the start that APA is available to support them.

“We come over and introduce ourselves, and then invite them to a dinner at APA to help inform and guide them through the ins and outs of not only employment at American, but what the union has to offer,” CA Pacheco says. “We try to emphasize the importance of professionalism and being proud of our profession.”

The Membership Committee hosted nearly 40 such dinners for new hires in 2023. The committee hosts similar dinners for captains who are in Fort Worth for American Airlines’ Professionalism, Leadership, and Mentoring class.

“We also support new captains,” CA Pacheco says. “We strive to answer any questions they may have and provide support in any way we can.”

This is just one of the dozens of new-hire classes the Membership Committee hosted this year.

Supporting pilots and their families is a huge undertaking for the Membership Committee, especially if a pilot is returning from long-term disability or facing furlough. CA Marberry got involved with the committee just before the COVID-induced furloughs of 2020.

“We wanted to take care of our pilots,” he says. “We put together a video to help our pilots prepare for furlough, get their financials in order, and any other ways we can help.”

For CA Marberry, this is a personal cause, because he was furloughed in 2002.

“At that point, it was just, ‘Turn your stuff in. We’re sorry.’ But now we’re helping give you information and support. We want our members to know that we’re still here for you, you’re still a member, and you still have APA resources, which is part of why we did Zoom calls,” he says. “There was a lot of really good information, but really, the biggest part was that the people that attended the Zoom calls knew that they weren’t on an island by themselves.”

The Membership Committee’s efforts extend to retiring pilots, who are offered a personalized poster featuring their aircraft of choice.

“In essence, Membership is a start-to-finish committee dedicated to supporting pilots for the entirety of their careers,” CA Pacheco says. “I want members to know that whenever they have an issue, there’s someone they can call at APA to get an answer. You can start with us, and we’ll help you figure it out. We are available to help answer questions regarding anything from IT support to directing members to appropriate departments for assistance with whatever information they may need.”

CA Marberry echoes that sentiment: “We answer a lot of membership questions. We’re proud to support the pilot group. We get to help our pilots. I love doing that. It makes me feel really good.”