It isn’t often that a union tries to get people not to join. Usually the incentive is to grow its ranks. However the American Airlines pilots union is warning pilots if they go to work at American Airlines they’ll be stuck at American for their whole career thanks to the senior system which makes jumping carriers not a viable option (since you lose schedule flexibility and pay).
American’s pilots union is in negotiations with the airline, and things have seemed to progress slowly (if at all). Pilots themselves have griped about lack of information from their union.
Perhaps the union feels it can,
- publicly embarrass the airline as a pressure tactic in negotiations
- make it harder for them to find new pilots, increasing the urgency of mollifying the group they have
The wage page that the Allied Pilots Association set up highlights criticisms of American Airlines. Some of those criticisms are relevant to pilots, others not (mishandled checked bags, really?).
Nonetheless, there are very legitimate gripes that the union does have with the airline.
- During the pandemic, United, Delta, and Southwest managed to retain all of their pilots while American furloughed pilots.
- Some pilots are reluctant to volunteer for daily open trips, because the airline will ‘bait and switch’ get pilots to volunteer for one trip and send them somewhere else
- I’ve heard similar nightmares about pilots working reserve, where they get sent on different itineraries mid-trip despite contractual provisions against this.
- And while this issue is reportedly getting better, the system for providing lodging for pilots during trips has been broken for months. By the way when the airline changes where a pilot is going mid-trip, the limo desk doesn’t actually get this information into its system. Fly into one area airport, and now going out of another? Pilots may be getting an itinerary with ground transportation but there’s no ground transport actually arranged.
Still, warning pilots ‘don’t join our union’ is a bit of an odd play, they’re an independent union telling pilots ‘go join ALPA instead.’