The Alaska Pilot Group's Road to a Contract
Alaska’s pilots were prepared for a contentious round of negotiations with a unified MEC and Strategic Plan that leveraged ALPA’s resources and the goals of the Alaska pilot group.
Alaska Airlines / Virgin America Merger
2016 - 2017
After management's decision to merge Alaska Airlines and Virgin America, the Alaska and Virgin pilot groups utilize ALPA Merger Policy to negotiate a JCBA and integrate their seniority lists.
Strategic Planning and Setting the Table
2018 - 2019
With a newly-integrated pilot group, the Alaska MEC develops a strategic plan to achieve work rules, job security, benefits, and compensation in line or better than their industry peers.
COVID-19 Strikes and Alaska Pilots Update Their Strategic Plan
Leveraging its pilot group's input and resources from ALPA National, Alaska's MEC navigates the COVID-19 pandemic while adjusting its Strategic Plan to be ready for the airline industry's recovery in 2021.
Unity & Solidarity Through Mediation
2021 - 2022
Alaska's MEC uses ALPA's toolbox to publicly reiterate its pilots group's priorities, provide multiple opportunities for the pilot group to show its resolve to management and the public, and quickly work through the mediation process.
Alaska ALPA Closes the Deal
The Alaska MEC's Negotiating Committee uses the public displays of pilot resolve and resources from ALPA to close out a deal that brings achieves the pilot group's goals of work rules, job security, benefits, and pay in line or better than its peers.
Alaska's Pilots Ratify Their Contract and Immediately Begin Contract Implementation
After a well-organized education process, the Alaska's pilots overwhelmingly ratify their new agreement. The Alaska MEC then immediately shift its focus and communication to implementing and enforcing the new Alaska pilot agreement.
Alaska Airlines merged with Virgin America in 2016. Since both Alaska and Virgin were ALPA carriers, the pilot groups were subject to ALPA Merger Policy, which sets up a process to negotiate a Joint Collective Bargaining Agreement (JCBA) for the combined pilot group before integrating seniority lists.
Alaska’s JCBA negotiations ultimately resulted in an arbitrated contract that left its pilot group with gaps in work rules, job security, benefits, and pay when compared to its peers. These shortcomings helped inform the pilot group's goals going into the next contract negotiation cycle.
Strategic Planning Begins for a 2019 Negotiation
In August 2018, the Alaska MEC first reported that strategic planning efforts led them to conclude that it would be up to the Alaska pilot group to safeguard its future. That meant, among other things, to take control of its destiny and forge a path to a reliable future.
Section 6 Negotiations begin between the Alaska Airlines MEC and management team.
The Alaska MEC shared an executive summary of its strategic planning document with its pilots. The Strategic Communications chairman discusses that document in detail with the MEC chairman, vice chairman, and Strategic Planning chairman.
The pilots’ Negotiating Committee shifts its focus to the significant aspects of the contract known as the four cornerstones - work rules, job security, benefits, and pay. The MEC Chairman Negotiating Committee Chairman, and ALPA’s chief negotiator Bruce York discuss negotiating the more significant aspects of the pilots’ contract.
MEC officers and other committee chairs discuss current events and issues affecting the pilot group. Among other topics, Alaska's Executive Vice President provides an update on ALPA’s work to improve the KCM experience for pilots. Membership Chairman Will Swoveland discusses attrition numbers and what those who chose to leave Alaska Airlines have to say about their decision.
March - December 2020
At the end of 2020, the MEC Chairman, Negotiating Committee Chairman, and Strategic Planning Chairman discuss closing out year 2020 and what is facing the pilot group in the near future.
ALPA leaders and ALPA’s Lead Economic and Financial Strategist discuss the Company must agree to long overdue improvements. Details of the union’s work may also be found in the MEC’s Strategic Planning Executive Summary. Part of that summary includes the MEC’s perspectives on the recent changes to executive management at Alaska Airlines.
The Alaska MEC discusses the innovative ways the MEC planned to overcome obstacles caused by COVID-19 restrictions to be on the road connecting with its pilots.
Additionally, job security is an important part of any career. Scope language in modern pilot collective bargaining agreements is designed to protect current flying, provide opportunities for growth of a pilot group, and prepare for unexpected events.
The Alaska MEC describes their current table positions at the negotiating table. Additionally, the MEC announces a dues refund after responsibly managing their MEC budget.
The MEC Chairman and Negotiating Committee Chairman discuss the commitment ALPA leadership has in maintaining and pressing for the contract improvement priorities identified by Alaska pilots. Those goals are clear, consistent, long overdue, and are driving the efforts of the Negotiating Committee.
Contract negotiations between the Alaska Pilots and the Company do not progress at a pace consistent with the market-based changes that the pilots are seeking. The pilots’ union recommend (and Alaska Airlines management agreed) to hire a third-party facilitator for limited mediated discussions.
After three days in private mediation with Alaska Airlines, the talks ended on September 20, 2021. ALPA proposed this process to explore every avenue to address contract goals consistently voiced by Alaska pilots, but unfortunately the Company’s positions did not reflect the commitment required to move negotiations constructively forward. The pilots’ union has been clear that substantial improvements to both job security and work rules are essential; pilots have serious concerns over both of these contract areas, and these sections are clearly deficient when compared to other pilot contracts in the industry. These areas have been addressed by management teams at peer airlines where they have agreed to significant improvements over what the Alaska pilots currently have.
Alaska's MEC launches an aggressive campaign to inform the public that negotiations between the pilots and the company have stalled. While Alaska Airlines’ management repeats its core value – to “Do the Right Thing” – it fails to live up to it by rejecting the pilots’ desire to bring their contract into parity with industry peers. Hear the pilots’ union leadership correct the company’s narrative.
Union leadership recaps the final MEC meeting of 2021, an update on ALPA’s Do the Right Thing campaign, polling results, and what’s next in the national mediation process.
Discussions on management’s failure to address recurring weather issues affect pilots, the eroding culture at Alaska Airlines, and the Company’s inconsistent COVID-19 policies that are outside of industry best-practices. Additionally, the history and details of Severe Irregular Operations is explained.
The Strategic Communications Chairman discusses the RLA, including what it means to be in mediated negotiations and the process of being released before engaging in a legal strike. ALPA’s Senior Advisor and Chief Negotiator Bruce York, along with Senior Labor Relations Counsel Zach Henige join this episode to discuss what to expect during RLA mediation and what tactics are available to us to advance the pilots’ goals. Bruce York has been negotiating airline contracts for more than 40 years and shares his experience regarding ways management teams have in the past attempted to stymie the work of ALPA.
The Alaska pilots conducted an informational picket at an event in New York City where the COO of Alaska Airlines was speaking. The Communications Chairman, MEC Chairman, MEC Secretary, and SPSC Chairman discuss their experiences at that event as well as upcoming mediated negotiations sessions, the next picketing event coming up on April 1, and other SPSC events.
The Alaska MEC announce informational picketing scheduled for April 1, 2022, in Anchorage, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. The Strategic Communications Chairman David Campbell discusses the importance of physical displays of unity and resolve with the MEC Chairman and Strategic Planning Chairman.
On March 10, the Alaska Pilots’ Negotiating Committee released a comprehensive term sheet covering the union’s solutions to the issues concerning pilots. In this episode the Strategic Communications Chairman, MEC Chairman, Negotiating Chairman, and Scheduling Chairman discuss that term sheet.
Hundreds of pilots attended an all-base informational picket on April 1, to make a statement to company management—Do the right thing!
On April 21, the Alaska Airlines Pilots Master Executive Council (MEC) unanimously voted to approve a strike authorization ballot. While the pilot group is not on strike now a “yes” vote will authorize the MEC to call a strike if mediation is unsuccessful, all the procedures of the Railway Labor Act have been exhausted, and the National Mediation Board allows the Alaska Airlines pilots and management to exercise self-help at the end of a cooling off period.
On May 25, a strike authorization ballot sent to the Alaska Airlines pilots closed. With nearly 96 percent of members participating, an overwhelming 99 percent of Alaska pilots authorized union leaders to call a strike if necessary and after the parties are permitted by the National Mediation Board (NMB) to take that action.
The Strategic Communications Chairman discusses the increase in pace of contract negotiations with the Negotiating Committee Chairman and MEC Chairman. Also, the Strategic Planning Chairman and MEC Chairman discuss how the MEC’s strategic plan has brought Alaska's pilots to this point and how the MEC will continue to leverage it to bring these negotiations to a successful conclusion in the form of a ratifiable Tentative Agreement.
The Strategic Communications Chairman speaks with the MEC Chairman, Negotiating Committee Chairman, and Strategic Planning Vice-Chairman about the Special MEC Meeting that concluded on July 1. Topics included how the Negotiating Committee refines goals as a deal grows closer and how a Local Council Block Representative functions at ALPA.
The Strategic Communications Chairman David Campbell discusses the state of negotiations with the MEC Chairman, Negotiating Chairman, and the Strategic Planning Chairman; topics include the most recent company earnings call with analysis from ALPA Economic and Financial Analysis, the continued rapid pace of negotiations after the strike authorization vote and picket, and collaboration across ALPA when closing out a deal.
The Strategic Communications Chairman, MEC Chairman, MEC Vice Chairman, and Negotiating Committee Chairman discuss the state of negotiations and what pilots may expect from the special MEC meeting scheduled to begin on August 29.
The Strategic Communications Chairman discusses the conclusion of last week’s negotiations session, and what to expect next week.
September 23, 2022
The Alaska Airlines MEC voted to approve a Tentative Agreement (TA). The MEC released seven podcast episodes all at once along with a Quick Reference Guide to ensure all facts were presented to its members as quickly as possible.
September 28, 2022
The TA approved by the Alaska MEC opens for the pilot members to consider for approval. This episode discusses the process of completing the full language TA which is expected to be available by Friday, September 30, events where one may learn more about the TA, such as roadshows and airport sits, and the balloting process.
October 17, 2022
The pilots at Alaska Airlines overwhelmingly approve a tentative agreement with the Company on a three-year deal that contains improvements to job security, pay, scheduling flexibility, and other quality-of-life provisions. With 96 percent of eligible Alaska pilots casting ballots, 82 percent voted in favor of the new agreement.
The process of implementing the new contract begins in earnest. Listen to the work being done to ensure that the process moves forward expeditiously and the need for pilots’ solidarity to remain strong.
Negotiating a contract means nothing if it is not implemented and enforced.
The MEC Chairman, Negotiating Chairman, and Scheduling Committee Chairman further discuss the CBA implementation process. A number of ALPA resources are mentioned in this episode which are linked below.