Professional Standards - January 18, 2011
Pilots at FedEx have a variety of incorrect ideas about what Professional Standards is. I hear them when I get a phone calls from fellow crewmembers who are having a bad day.
Most people want me to put the other party on, “The List.” The conversation goes something like, “I flew with this real jerk. I want you to take down everything that moron did.” I reply that Professional Standards does not keep written records. I don’t have a secret list with every rude Captain on it. I either get a surprised response or the pilot goes on anyway and unburdens himself. That is fine. After a trip with an overbearing crewmember our pilots really need to vent. So, I listen. That is because what we really do at Professional Standards is to keep quiet and listen. When the complainant finishes then we can work on a course of action with the pilots involved. For many pilots, just talking about the problem takes the emotional charge off of it and the matter is settled.
I have gotten a few calls from First Officers complaining about only ‘over 60’ Captains. The implication is that Professional Standards is ‘The Hammer’ and will clear out the seniority list to their satisfaction. If there is a particular pilot that needs help with his career then the complainant can make himself part of the process to get this Captain some training. Unfortunately, every time this happens to me, the F.O. has wanted to remain anonymous. Professional Standards will keep your situation confidential (we won’t talk this up and you won’t either), but if there is a pilot that is of concern, you do have to step up and make yourself known. Please, no more of these phone calls. I missed my son’s ski award because of one of these. I answered because I thought it was important. It wasn’t; it was just someone wanting a ‘hit’ on an unpopular Captain.
Every so often I hear from an instructor or check airman that, “Professional Standards has no teeth.” Again, the idea is that when there is a poorly performing pilot that my volunteers and I need to ”do something” about it. We are unelected union volunteers. Our mandate is to help our fellow pilots, not to get them fired. We are here to help save careers not end them. If someone is having trouble in training or on a check ride, it is Training and Standards who are responsible for the evaluation of pilot proficiency. If there is a proficiency issue, our CBA has defined protocols through the Training Review Board, which may help resolve the issue.
We do not handle training problems, medical issues, substance abuse, grievance, legal problems, or F.A.A. violations. We also don’t end careers. We save them.
If during the confidential investigation of the issue, the ProStan voluteer feels there
may be another problem affecting the pilot, then he/she may refer that pilot to another Pilot Assistance Committee for help.
Here is what we do: we handle C.R.M. issues, personality conflicts, communication problems, non-adherence to S.O.P., and unprofessional conduct. We deal with conflict; two pilots not getting along. When we get a call, we work with the complainant while staying neutral. We cannot take sides. I have experienced pilots who want this committee to do their fighting for them. That is not how mediation works. We can help pilots work out a solution to their problem and the only way for us to do that is to be neutral. This is what we do. We also get an agreement of confidentiality from everyone involved. We don’t spread the parties’ names around with gossip and they don’t either. We show them how to work out a solution to their problem and prevent the same issue from re-occurring.
Call us when you need help. We help resolve conflicts, enhancing safety and professionalism and we don’t keep any “secret lists.”
Captain Eileen Weingram
Vice Chair Professional Standards
Click here to view the Professional Standards Letter of Agreement
Click here to view the MEC Policy Manual