Chairman's Message - January 20, 2012
Chairman's Message - January 20, 2012

In late December, I outlined the 5-point plan going forward to win this Flight and Duty Time battle (click here to view the 5-point plan).This is an update on the progression of that plan. 

January 20

January 20, 2012

In late December, I outlined the 5-point plan going forward to win this Flight and Duty Time battle (click here to view the 5-point plan).This is an update on the progression of that plan.   

As we previously communicated, the MEC has been actively addressing the dissatisfying FTDT outcome. Most recently, your representatives received a detailed briefing from the ALPA Legal and Government Affairs departments. MEC members had the opportunity to directly question the Legal and Government Affairs experts about their perspectives and opinions concerning the FTDT outcome and the quickest and most likely means of changing that outcome in a positive manner -- the highest probability of achieving “One Level of Safety.”

Since Part 117 was issued our Scheduling/FTDT experts and Negotiating team, who are FedEx pilots intimately familiar with your system, lines and work rules, have examined the landscape that might exist were Part 117 to apply to FedEx Express operations. Those experts have advised the MEC that the added safety benefits associated with Part 117 significantly outweigh any difficulties that this set of rules might bring. Simply put, Part 117 is significantly preferable to the current FARs.

Part 117 provides cargo operators with the option of voluntary compliance. ALPA recently met with the Department of Transportation in advance of the DOT’s meetings with cargo operators management. We understand that the DOT will “encourage” cargo airlines to opt into FAR 117 operations. On the FedEx Express front, I have strongly encouraged the company to opt-in to Part 117 (click here to view the letter sent to management). To date, we have not received a response.

As you are likely aware, the Independent Pilots Association (IPA) representing the United Parcel Service pilots filed a lawsuit challenging the cargo carriers exemption in the Flightcrew Member Duty and Rest Requirement regulations. The MEC received a detailed briefing concerning the standards which must be applied to prevail in that litigation. The legal team also advised the MEC of timelines for filing an ALPA lawsuit. In addition, I have been in continuous contact with the IPA President. We plan to meet in Washington later this month. On a related note, the Cargo Airline Association, of which FedEx is a member, has entered the case in support of the FAA and the cargo exemption. 

As I previously wrote to you, the MEC is committed to objectively evaluating every plausible course of action in an effort to establish the best way to attack the FTDT problem. During the MEC’s briefing, ALPA President Captain Lee Moak and Michael Robbins, ALPA’s Director of Government Affairs spoke directly to the climate that led to the cargo exemption. Further, they spoke to a specific plan to attack the cargo exemption via the legislative process and the likelihood of success associated with such an effort. The briefings received from President Moak, Director of the Legal Department Jon Cohen and his team, Director of Government Affairs Michael Robbins and Captain Bill Soer were of the highest of quality and objectivity. As we have come to expect at ALPA, these briefings substantially equipped your MEC to decide how the FedEx pilots would be represented in this vital matter. In the end, the MEC concluded that joining the IPA lawsuit or filing an independent court challenge to the cargo exemption were not advisable at this time. Furthermore, the MEC determined that an attack led by the President’s office and our Government Affairs team provided the best timeline, most control of the process and outcome, and best likelihood for substantial success in achieving “One Level of Safety.” The following link provides some of the legal data that was reviewed as part of the decision on the best route forward (click here to read the legal summary).  

I realize that there was considerable frustration with ALPA’s initial response to the fact that cargo was not included in Part 117 on a non-voluntary basis. I, too, was frustrated and upset at what I perceived to be indifference to the cargo side of the world. After discussing this subject with Captain Moak, I am satisfied that he understands our frustration and appreciates why ALPA’s response to Part 117 was not well-received by FedEx pilots. I am also convinced that the President is fully committed to reverse the cargo cut-out. I have personally experienced the recent commitment of ALPA resources to this cause.

Please stay close to this issue in the following weeks. There will likely be “Calls to Action” which require 100% participation. There will be further updates to read, understand and whenever you require, question. There will also be updates concerning the IPA litigation.

I close with this – ALPA is a representative democracy. A critical part of our success is the ability to collectively support the pursuit of strategic vision plans. A related key is that such vision plans be established after a thorough, objective and non-parochial analysis of the facts. Having participated in this process, I can say that this plan was established with full adherence to these standards. As you can see, this fight is far from over and we are prepared to succeed. 

In Unity,

Captain Scott Stratton