American Airlines Pilots to Drop APA Union for ALPA, First Switch in 50 Years?

Are American Airlines pilots about to end a 53 year partnership with their independent APA union to join up with the much larger Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA)? According to one group of pilots, it’s a real possibility as AA pilots are upset with how well Delta pilots did in their last round of contract negotiations, increasing compensation above the levels that AA set last year. United pilots have a clause in their contract that will match their rate to Delta’s once it is fully approved.

The ALPA currently represents Delta, FedEx, United, and UPS with 54,000 members and pilots at a total of 31 airlines in the US and Canada. The APA represents 15,000 pilots at AA.

Dallas News / Bloomberg talked to an AA first officer and the APA and ALPA president:

“There’s a well-founded belief that APA, as an independent union, underperforms,” said Mitch Vasin, an American first officer based in Phoenix. “It can’t compete with a national union with the resources and political connections and the size of ALPA. This has been at a simmer, and when the Delta pilots reached their tentative agreement, it turned the heat up a lot.

“Our pilot compensation will soon likely rank a distant fifth or sixth in the industry,” APA President Dan Carey told the union board last week. “As the largest pilot group in the world, employed by the most profitable airline in the world, that’s simply unacceptable.”

“We believe that all pilots would greatly benefit through single representation,” Tim Canoll, ALPA president, said in an e-mailed statement. “With a strong, unified voice, pilots would be even better positioned to secure valuable improvements to advance our profession and further strengthen aviation safety and security.”

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