This is the eleventh installment in a series of posts designed to explain the structure and function of your union. Knowing how your union works and who to contact when you have questions or issues you want addressed will help you make the most of your career. Today we’re looking at The ALPA Board of Directors (BOD).

Remember your civics class from junior high where you learned how the US government is organized? The organizational structure of ALPA is similar and almost as complex. The Organization of ALPA post outlines the structure at a broader level. Today we will focus on ALPA’s Board of Directors (BOD).

Basic Structure of ALPA
Before we get into the Association’s national structure, let’s begin at the foundation. ALPA is an association of pilots. The pilots, or members, are the strength of the union and are the most influential asset the Association has. You may have heard the oft-used phrase of “bottom-up leadership” which is absolutely true at ALPA. The pilots direct their reps who (as members of MECs) direct their MEC officers and MEC committees, and then (as members of the Board of Directors) direct national officers and national committees. The set-up is something like this:

Each member has the power to elect representatives for their local council who they think will best represent their interests. The elected local council reps together form the Master Executive Council (MEC) which represents the interests and desires of the pilot group as a whole. Each ALPA member airline has an MEC and elected MEC officers, often called the MEC Administration.

Local council reps from all ALPA airlines together form the Board of Directors, which is what we’ll be talking about today. In that group, they represent the interests and desires of all ALPA members, and they elect groups of national officers that serve as the national administration.

Board of Directors? Sounds fancy. What does the Board do?
The BOD is the highest governing body of the Association. Delta has 19 local council reps who serve on the BOD. There are currently over 200 BOD members representing 34 ALPA member airlines and over 60,000 pilots.

There are certain things that only the BOD can do – like amend the Constitution; raise or lower dues; and elect national officers. But it’s too large to do everything. So the Executive Board (which is made up of all MEC chairman) and the Executive Council (which is made up of the national officers and Executive Vice Presidents) manage the regular business affairs of the Association and consider changes to policy. But decisions by the Executive Council and Executive Board are all subject to BOD oversight.

When does the BOD meet?
The entire BOD meets every other year at the cleverly-named Board of Directors Meeting. The next BOD meeting will be held this year, October 15-18 in Washington, D.C.

At the BOD Meeting, several important things happen:
• Each larger MEC, and groups of smaller MECs, will elect their Executive Vice President (EVP) -Remember, this person represents their MEC(s) on the Executive Council
• The BOD will elect ALPA National Officers (president, first vice president, VP – admin/secretary and VP – finance/treasurer). This happens every four years, so every other BOD, but will take place at this year’s meeting.
• The BOD will debate and vote on proposals to change the Constitution and ALPA policy.
• The BOD will review and amend ALPA’s strategic plan.

How can I make a suggestion to the BOD?
Remember, the BOD is made up of local council status reps. The best way to share an idea, propose a change or make a suggestion is to start at the local level by contacting your local council status rep.

Be sure to catch up on all parts of the Understanding Your Union series:

The Organization of ALPA

Local Councils/LECs

The Master Executive Council

Officers of the MEC

Governing Documents

MEC Meetings

What’s the difference between the PWA and the FOM

Your Dues

Policy Manual Review

MEC Committees