This is the twelfth 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 Political Action Committee (ALPA- PAC).
History of ALPA-PAC
ALPA’s founder and first president, David Behncke, understood the power of money in politics. Behncke pushed for political influence and power, and understood that money would help ALPA gain advantage in Washington to help get ALPA priorities heard in the halls of Congress. Behncke fought a long internal war with ALPA leadership who could not see the connection between politics, money and the health of the Association. Behncke’s vision of political influence was not realized until ALPA President J.J. O’Donnell (1975-1982) pushed for the creation of the ALPA-PAC at the 1975 ALPA BOD meeting. Under Captain Hank Duffy, Captain O’Donnell’s successor, PAC contributions soared as members began to buy into what the PAC could do for the airline pilot profession. The ALPA-PAC is now a very powerful and effective voice in Washington.
What is the ALPA PAC?
ALPA-PAC is your political voice in D.C. and across the country. ALPA-PAC is funded 100% by voluntary contributions from ALPA members living in the United States. All donations are used to educate decision makers in Washington, D.C., and build pilot-partisan majorities in the House and Senate. ALPA-PAC was created as a tool to help represent our concerns to the policy makers working on these issues on a daily basis. It serves as a critical complement to ALPA’s lobbying efforts and greatly helps to advance pilot-partisan issues in the Capitol.
Shortly after our creation, ALPA realized that the PAC could be most effective in supporting candidates running for seats in the House and Senate. While other PACs might only lobby incumbent members of Congress, ALPA-PAC also works to elect pro-pilot candidates to office, with the goal of candidates who could lobby for our pilot-partisan goals from the inside. Earning ALPA-PAC’s support as a candidate is a rigorous process that requires a demonstrated commitment to pilots and he support of local pilots.
ALPA-PAC is the most bipartisan labor PAC in the country. The PAC counts conservative Republicans, liberal Democrats and moderates of all stripes among its greatest allies. Party and ideology are irrelevant to an individual’s support for pilot partisan causes. ALPA-PAC truly is pilot partisan.
Who decides which candidates get ALPA-PAC Support?
ALPA-PAC is governed by a Steering Committee, the members of which are elected by ALPA’s Board of Directors or appointed for a two-year term by ALPA’s president. The Steering Committee approves all expenses from the PAC.
The ALPA-PAC Steering Committee consists of nine members: The president of ALPA who serves as chairman of the committee, the first vice president of ALPA who serves as treasurer, and seven National members (ALPA members in good standing) appointed by the committee chairman and approved by the ALPA Executive Council.
MECs can earn seats on the Steering committee by demonstrating a commitment to the PAC. Any MEC whose members account for 15% or more of total PAC receipts over a two-year period is entitled to a seat. MECs accounting for more than 30% of total receipts are entitled to two seats. Two seats are reserved for smaller carriers to make sure the Steering Committee is representative of ALPA’s membership.
What are the current top priorities for the ALPA PAC?
Threats to the airline profession are ever present and come in many different forms. ALPA must stay vigilant and direct the ALPA-PAC steering committee to recognize threats and subdue them by promoting pilot-partisan legislation and promoting pilot friendly candidates. Here is a list of some of the current priorities of the ALPA-PAC:
- Single pilot operations
- State owned enterprises
- Unmanned aircraft systems
- Flag of convenience schemes
- Pilot supply and the future of the profession
- Foreign ownership and control and cabotage
Recent ALPA-PAC Successes
- FAA Reauthorization (September 2018)
- UAE ME3 Open Skies agreement (May 2018)
- Qatar ME3 Open Skies agreement (January 2018)
- National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed requiring drone registration (December 2017)
- FFDO funding extended through 2018 (January 2017)
- DOT denies NAUK’s exemption request (July 2016)
- House T&I Committee and Senate vote to mandate secondary barriers (February/April 2015)
- FFDO funding extended (March 2015)
- DOT denies NAI exemption request (August 2014)
- DOT rejects Air Serbia/JAT application (January 2014)
- Increased funding for HIMS (January 2014)
Major Improvements in the 5-year FAA Reauthorization Bill
- No changes to first officer qualifications and training
- No section 744 – the single pilot operations program
- UAS – Section 336 of the previous FAA authorization is being repealed and FAA will have the authority to properly regulate all UAS (including hobbyists)
- PHMSA is getting statutory direction for a public education campaign about the dangers of shipping undeclared hazmat
- Physically installed secondary barriers will be mandated on all newly manufactured aircraft – the FAA has 120 days to direct carriers to make this change
- ASAP reports are now going to be presumed accepted
- Oxygen masks – FAA is being directed to harmonize rules with ICAO to mandate masks at FL410
- FFDO firearms training will be harmonized with FAMS training to allow requalification training at FAMS training centers
- The HIMS program is being authorized for the first time which will streamline the funding process and strengthen the program
- Lithium battery regulations are being harmonized with ICAO regulations
- Our Women in Aviation bill was included to encourage young women to become pilots
The ALPA-PAC fought hard against many threats that could potentially impact airline pilot careers including:
- Uber Air
- Cabotage exemption for Puerto Rico
- Foreign ownership and control changes (Brat bill)
- Additional mental health screening requirements
- Negative labor law changes, i.e. excluding flight crews from state kincare and other laws
Should I contribute?
ALPA members work in one of the most regulated industries in the country. The federal government determines how often you can fly, what your training looks like, your medical requirements and many other aspects of our profession. Additionally, our industry is currently facing several existential threats that our government must take positive action on. ALPA-PAC is the best way to educate decision makers on the issues that affect pilot careers to ensure our jobs are stable, prosperous and around as long as we need them.
ALPA-PAC Membership Clubs
ALPA members can contribute any amount of money that they feel comfortable with. ALPA-PAC has designated membership clubs to make it easy for supporters to determine how much to contribute each month. Members who contribute on each level receive recognition for their support with ALPA-PAC lanyards, lapel pin, bag tags and stickers. Members also receive monthly Legislative/Political updates to stay informed about issues effecting professional pilots. All Behncke, President’s, Capitol, and Century club contributors are also listed in each year’s Roll of Distinction.
- Behncke Circle $1000.00 or more per year ($83.34 per month)
- Presidents Circle $500-$999 per year ($41.68- $83.33 per month)
- Capitol Club $240- $499 ($20-$41.66)
- Century Club $100- $239 $(8.34-$19.98)
- Coffee Club $1 –$99 (up to $8.33 per month)
How do I contribute?
ALPA-PAC Checkoff is a voluntary payroll deduction plan that allows U.S. ALPA members to contribute to the PAC on a regular basis through automatic donations directly from their paychecks. ALPA members need only sign up for Checkoff once. Contributions can be changed or terminated at any time online.
Signing-up for a recurring contribution, like Checkoff, allows ALPA-PAC to budget more accurately, allowing your contributions to be used in the most effective way possible. It also helps to keep your inbox clean because ALPA-PAC doesn’t solicit Checkoff participants on a regular basis. This also saves the PAC money on administrative costs, so you get the most for your contribution. It’s the easiest and the best way to show your support for pilot partisanship.
You can sign-up for ALPA-PAC Checkoff either online through the easy-to-use webpage or you can sign an ALPA-PAC Checkoff authorization card, available from your local ALPA representative. You can also contact ALPA-PAC to have an authorization card sent directly to you. Please be advised that this process can take up to six weeks to start, change or terminate due to delays at the payroll company.
Be sure to catch up on all parts of the Understanding Your Union series: