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UAL-MEC Membership Committee Report

David A. Smith, Membership Committee Chair 

April 4, 2000

UAL-MEC Database

Included with this report is the "usual" statistical data concerning the United Airlines pilot group.  While this data is assumed to be forthcoming to you during every report this committee provides - I believe we must not forget its importance or take it for granted.  The rumors are true and yes, Bill Powell has returned for a while as our UAL-MEC Membership Committee database keeper.  I was extremely lucky to gain the grace of Bill's services once again and hope that we can develop a long term solution to the database management problem soon.

I want to thank Captain Muddy Waters for stepping forward in the interim to assist in the efforts to maintain the United Airlines pilots database.  As Muddy found out, the task is very complex and time consuming.  With the cooperation of ALPA National, Cullen Bankole and the UAL-MEC, the UAL pilots database is "back on track' thanks to Bill Powell.  How long can we count on Bill to continue his fine work?  The search continues for his successor, and hopefully we can let Bill officially "retire" by later this year.  Your assistance and commitment of financial resources will be required to keep the database current and accurate.  Its importance cannot be overstated.

United Statistics

United has hired 298 pilots so far thru March 2000.  Their average age is just about 35 years old.  As of the end of March 2000, there are 10,405 total pilots on the United Airlines seniority lists.  Of that total, there are 9,995 pilots less than the age of 60 on the seniority lists.  The average age of all United pilots on our seniority lists less than the age of 60 is just shy of 45 years old.  Of all United pilots, only 18% were hired prior to the United Airlines pilots strike of 1985.

With all the hiring we have done in recent years, the attrition of United pilots due to age 60 will not be as dramatic as some of our competitors.  We will retire approximately 25% of our seniority list by early 2008.  It will take until approximately early 2018 to retire 1/2 of our present seniority list.  It is becoming obvious that within a few years, upward mobility at United Airlines will come from growth and not just attrition.  This is why it is so very important to have contractual protections for job security from both the regional airline end and the Star Alliance end.  Otherwise we will simply find our careers stuck in the middle - not a good place to be.

DENTK Staffing

Staffing at DENTK has always been a fluid target.  We are now at a historical high for the number of pilots employed at DENTK.  Looking back over the years we find the following data:
  "Management pilots" 
(SC), etc.
Pilot Instructors 
1993 162 285
1994 105 139
1995 117 245
1996 139 294
1997 148 306
1998 153 403
1999 157 421
Presently 200 494

There are almost 700 pilots on our seniority list working at DENTK.  This represents 7% of the United pilots.  This is truly an impressive figure, but is obviously due to our record high training load.  It is also clear that many, if not most of the pilots working at DENTK live in the Denver area.  Add that to the 1,100+ pilots based at the Denver domicile and you can begin to see that when the training load goes down at DENTK, there will be many pilots competing for fewer available slots of flying in Denver.

The fact remains that much of the proficiency flying that these DENTK 'based" personnel conduct is Denver's domicile flying.  The majority of this flying is done on a displacement basis and that is vital to make certain that the corporation is not using DENTK as a "reserve" pool for domicile flying.  The company claims that there is no pilot staffing problem at this airline, while the crew desk personnel who must attempt to staff this airline know better.  I guess the fact that it only takes 2 years and 1 0 months to be a captain here at United and only 30 days to become a 747-400 first officer is not indicative of any problem?

ALPA Membership

Of the total pilots here at United, over 96% are members of the Air Line Pilots Association.  Of that amount, approximately l0% are probationary members in their first year of employment at United.  That means there are less than 4% non-members of ALPA here on the property.  Do the numbers 96% and 4% ring a bell? 96% was the percentage of pilots that honored the ALPA picket line here at United during the strike of 1985.  The fact remains that our unity is our strength. 96% is an overwhelming number and one to be proud of.  As we go into this period of traditional contract negotiations, this strength will prove to be the catalyst to get us a truly industry leading agreement.

Bad Standing Lists

The publishing of non-member lists here at United in our council publications and on our bulletin boards is assumed as it is UAL-MEC policy.  It is also UAL-MEC policy that we publish the names of those members who are in "bad standing".  How does a member get into bad standing?  Simple, by not paying their required dues monies when they are billed.  I will immediately undertake an effort to expand the monthly publication at each domicile of each member in bad standing as is UAL-MEC policy.

Council Bypass Policy

As reported in the January 2000 Membership Committee report, the issue of a better working council bypass policy needs to be introduced.  The input of the UAL-MEC is critical to making this "new" policy work.  The following suggestions need your input as this committee seeks to provide the direction for the upcoming changes in council bypass policy.

1) The policy that all council bypasses must be approved at a regular UAL-MEC meeting takes up a lot of your valuable meeting time.  It might prove easier if the UAL-MEC delegate the UAL-MEC Membership Committee Chairman to approve all such requests as they are presented to the committee.  These approvals would be limited to the following:

- when the member lives in the immediate vicinity of the LEC where he desires the bypass
- when the member has been surplused from the LEC with which he already had been a member
- when the member clearly explains why his membership should be allowed to be in the LEC he desires due to commuting reasons, ALPA LEC or MEC representational or committee involvement or increased ALPA participation in the LEC affairs

All other reasons for seeking a council bypass would be brought before the UAL-MEC for their consideration and action.  This action keeps the approval of all council bypass requests on the MEC level - it simply helps to decrease the workload of the UAL-MEC.

2) The idea of a 'permanent" council bypass was simply never intended to be the “right" of a member of our Association.  It was suggested by Captain Tim Brown, immediate past chairman of Council 52, that all pilots possessing a council bypass be required to maintain their council bypass on a regular basis.  I believe that we have the ability to send a document on a annual basis to all pilots having a council bypass (over 700 total) that shows that they still meet the qualifications for council bypass indicated above.

The issue of council bypass is one that the United pilots have turned into a “beast" of its own growth.  The ALPA Constitution and By-Laws sole reference to Council Bypass is Article III, Section 1 0 (A) (2nd to last sentence).  It states that, "Unless requested by the member and approved by the Master Executive Council, a member must belong to the Local Council at the domicile where the member holds a bid." The United pilots have succeeded in turning this sentence into the most complex and parochial issue of any other airline in ALPA.  I think we need to simplify the council bypass procedure and make it user friendly to indeed foster increased council participation.

The reality of the council bypass issue is that many councils still actively seek pilots who do not meet the UAL-MEC policy and in effect “steal" votes from other councils.  This issue must be put to rest.  Your input is required to make a council bypass policy that is simple and works.  The policy is broke - so we should fix it.

On another note, due to the fact that it is the UAL-MEC Membership Committee Chairman's responsibility to make certain that all council bypass requests are accurate, meet the MEC policy and that the member in question is in good standing, we will no longer accept last minute council bypass requests for consideration at that given MEC meeting.  The time required to do the job you have tasked this committee with correctly is simply one which takes a while.  At the January 2000 UAL-MEC meeting, this committee was given in excess of 20 council bypass requests to take care of in three days or less.  We will simply bring those requests forward to the next regular UAL-MEC meeting.

ALPA National Membership Committee Meeting

There will be a meeting of all membership committee chairman in ALPA in early April 2000. 1 will be attending on my days off and will be reporting the results of this meeting during the UAL-MEC Membership Committee's oral report to you at the April 2000 MEC meeting.  Issues covered will include communications, policy discussion (including council bypass), ALPA on-line, budgets, expenses, ALPA insurance, furlough information, changes to the ALPA Constitution and By-Laws, and recent changes to the probationary pilot process.

John Dodge Retirement

John Dodge, the ALPA National Manager of Membership Services will be retiring this June.  John has done yeoman's work for the United Airlines pilots over his many years of ALPA service.  John is retiring after 33 years of service to the Association and I would appreciate your approval of a resolution thanking him for his work on behalf of the United pilots.  I would like to attend his retirement party on your behalf and present him with a plaque congratulating him on his career.


Please find for your consideration a resolution updating UAL-MEC policy concerning the wearing of ALPA pins.  Basically the change will allow all pilots honorably awarded the ALPA battlestar at other air carriers to wear the battlestar on our property.  Right now our "other airline" policy only allows Eastern Air Lines pilots to wear the battlestar at United.  The most recent ALPA pilot strike at Northwest Airlines and the fact that some of their pilots who honored the picket line have chosen to work here instead in recent months brings this issue to light.


I appreciate the opportunity to serve on your behalf as the UAL-MEC Membership Committee chairman.  I have found the job to have changed in complexity and time required since my last term as your Chairman.  The time spent getting "up to speed' and learning where we are at and where we need to go and how to get there has taken up an incredible amount of time.  I believe that the UAL-MEC Membership Committee is a very cost conscious, efficient and effective committee.

This Committee deals with the day-in, day-out questions and concerns of the pilots of this airline.  Your LEC Membership Committee chairmen are to be commended for their hard work and effort.  I am committed to supporting these LEC chairmen financially and with all the resources this committee has to offer.  Once again, I thank you for your support in making the UAL-MEC Membership Committee the best in all of ALPA.  Our pilot group deserves it!