Frequently Asked Questions

Submitting an authorization card is a formal method of stating that you want an election for representation. By signing a card, you are authorizing ALPA to petition the National Mediation Board (NMB) to conduct a secret-ballot representation election. When ALPA receives a strong majority of cards from Northern Pacific Airways pilots, ALPA will submit them to the NMB. The NMB will then review the cards for accuracy. The cards are kept confidential and never shared with Northern Pacific management.

If the NMB determines the cards are accurate and represent a majority of the eligible pilots, it will conduct a secret-ballot election. A majority of those voting in the election will determine the results. If a majority of votes cast are for ALPA representation, ALPA will be certified by the NMB as our exclusive collective bargaining representative under the Railway Labor Act.

All Northern Pacific Airways pilots are eligible to apply for ALPA membership when the NMB certifies the Association as the representative of Northern Pacific pilots. ALPA will e-mail membership applications to pilots on file. You can also download the form, with instructions, from the website upon completion of a successful representation drive.

No. If ALPA is certified as collective bargaining representative, it is required by law to represent every pilot at Northern Pacific; however, the Association cannot require a pilot to become a member at any time. But over 98 percent of pilots represented by ALPA choose to be members. That membership statistic underscores the value of membership and affirms the importance of strength and unity.

Northern Pacific pilots could be required to pay a service charge for ALPA representation if that arrangement is negotiated with the Company and included in an agreement. ALPA collective bargaining agreements (CBA) typically do contain an "agency shop" provision, so pilots who decline to become ALPA members fairly share the costs of collective bargaining and contract enforcement that will benefit them.

The service charge amount is equal to member dues. But pilots who elect to pay a service charge and decline membership will not be able to participate in member activities that include:

  • Voting on contracts
  • Holding union office
  • Attending member meetings

Nonmembers are also not eligible for assistance from ALPA’s Aeromedical Office or to enroll in ALPA-sponsored benefit programs such as disability or life insurance.

A membership drive follows NMB certification. That period, useful to build on the unity and success of the organizing efforts and demonstrate support for the pilot group’s bargaining, is typically several months long. Dues obligations for pilots who apply during that period don’t start until the end of the membership drive. You will not pay dues until at least 90 days after the Association is formally certified.

Pilots who don't apply during the membership drive can still apply for membership later, but dues are assessed for the period that membership was available to them—in other words, from the end of the membership drive forward.

The ALPA Constitution requires applicants to pay, or make arrangements to satisfy, past financial obligations to ALPA before they can be accepted into membership. Arrangement plans are available for past obligations.

After Northern Pacific pilots elect ALPA, interim pilot leaders will be appointed quickly to begin work on behalf of our pilot group. Most important are:

  1. The steps to put democratically elected permanent representatives in place
  2. Preparation for work to address key concerns in negotiations

Very soon after NMB certification, the ALPA Executive Council will create a local council for our pilot group and appoint interim representatives. These representatives will also serve as the initial Northern Pacific Airways ALPA Master Executive Council (MEC) as a single-council MEC.

The MEC will be able to establish committees in its first few months of operation. These committees are likely to include Safety, Retirement and Insurance, Contract Study, and others. ALPA professional experts in each area will meet with the committees soon after their formation to outline resources available, provide training, and outline the committee's goals and work schedule.

The interim local council representatives will get things started, but as soon as a strong majority of pilots have become members, an election process will begin so that we can choose our own representatives. That process will start with a nominating meeting. It's critical for all pilots to submit membership applications as soon as possible after certification in order to attend local council meetings and vote to elect representatives.

There is more than one way to negotiate, so the bargaining process can take many shapes depending on pilot group input and goals. ALPA looks at negotiations as an information-driven, problem-solving exercise that not only achieves pilot group CBA goals, but also creates and solidifies constructive labor relations with management.

A Negotiating Committee will be put in place by the MEC to bargain the first CBA. Prior to that, the MEC may consider establishing a Contract Study Committee very soon after certification to begin the process of preparing for negotiations. The Contract Study Committee could compare Northern Pacific terms and conditions to other similar carriers, analyze the company's financial performance and projections, survey and poll Northern Pacific pilots to understand their goals, and prepare draft language in more or less standard contract areas like grievance/arbitration, physical standards, and leaves of absence.

Once a Negotiating Committee is in place, it will quickly undergo intensive training, work with ALPA's professional negotiators and specialists in each area, formulate and discuss with the MEC its strategy and approach to bargaining, develop contract proposals based on member input from surveys and polling, and seek to meet with Northern Pacific Airways management representatives to begin talks.

There is no rule that says each and every proposal for a full contract needs to be ready in order to start bargaining. In other words, nothing prevents the Negotiating Committee and MEC from authorizing and conducting negotiations as soon as they are ready with parts of a contract. In fact, it's not unusual to build a contract in pieces by implementing letters of agreement (LOAs) in different areas. A good example is a grievance and arbitration LOA that would provide Northern Pacific pilots and management an efficient way of handling potential disciplinary matters. That LOA could be made a section of the CBA when the entire contract is finished.

Depending on the pilot group's goals, the approach and strategy chosen by the MEC, and management’s willingness to quickly establish a good working relationship and problem-solving approach like ALPA's, the length of time to complete a first contract can vary. A key element in convincing management that it makes sense to establish a constructive relationship is pilot unity and the strength of the membership drive.

ALPA is a democratic union organized with pilot members driving decision-making from the bottom up. It is a member-run, staff-supported union.

Here's how it works:

Local councils are established at most pilot bases, and each local council elects a representative for each status (captain or first officer) or seniority block. As a single-council MEC, the elected representatives from the local council will also make up the Master Executive Council (MEC) for the Northern Pacific pilots.

Each MEC is given primary responsibility for determining its relationship with management, making decisions about its contract and bargaining goals, and given discretion over dispute resolution and contract administration. ALPA assigns professional staff to work with and advise local leaders, but elected pilot representatives make final decisions.

At a national level, ALPA is governed by three groups: the Board of Directors, the Executive Board, and the Executive Council.

The Board of Directors (BOD) is the largest group, and it has the greatest authority. It consists of the local council representatives from every ALPA local council—approximately 220 pilots. It meets at least every two years and is responsible for setting the Association's course, modifying (when necessary) the governing documents, and electing national officers.

The Executive Board is the second largest group, and its authority is second to the Board of Directors. The Executive Board is made up of the MEC chairs from each airline—so it presently has 38 members. It meets at least twice a year to make sure that the BOD's decisions are being implemented and to consider certain significant decisions reserved to the Executive Board in the ALPA Constitution & By-Laws and other policies.

The smallest group, the Executive Council, is charged with overseeing the administration of the union, which includes such things as establishing and overseeing the budget and making day-to-day interpretations of ALPA’s governing rules. In addition, the Executive Council makes recommendations to the Executive Board or Board of Directors for final decision. The Executive Council currently has 13 members: four national officers and nine executive vice presidents elected from “election groups” described in the ALPA Constitution & By-Laws.

The process for selecting executive vice presidents has changed many times over the years as the membership and needs of the Association have changed. Under the current structure, each airline with more than 4,000 members or $10 million in annual dues elects one executive vice president. Smaller U.S. airlines are placed in one of three election groups, and each of those groups chooses a single executive vice president. Canadian airlines choose a single executive vice president.

In the portion of the ALPA Constitution that describes executive vice president elections, the letters A, B, and C are used to designate the different groups from which executive vice presidents are chosen—A for the largest carriers, B for the other U.S. carriers, and C for the Canadian carriers. The letters are just that—letters. They’re not grades or designations of importance. In fact, airlines assigned to the B and C groups get proportionally more representation per member on the Executive Council than airlines in the A group.

As members of ALPA, we will have direct democratic control over our pilot group’s activities and will decide on issues that are important to us. When certified by the NMB, internal elections among the pilot group who are members of the union will be held to elect individuals to serve on the Master Executive Council (MEC) and on a Bargaining Committee to negotiate a collective agreement. The Negotiating Committee, assisted by experienced professional negotiators, economic analysts, and lawyers from ALPA, will negotiate our first CBA based on our representatives' direction and with assistance and input from all members. This tentative collective bargaining agreement will be brought back to the members for ratification before it can be finalized.

Union dues represent the fee paid by members to support ALPA's activities on your behalf. The rate—currently 1.85 percent of your gross monthly airline earnings—is established by ALPA members and reviewed periodically. You will not pay dues until 90 days after the Association is formally certified.

The vast majority of ALPA workers are unpaid volunteer pilots, like you, who serve as elected board members and committee representatives. Your member dues pay for contract negotiations, legal fees, and general operating expenses, as well as salaries for the union’s staff. Approximately 50–75 percent of your dues will remain within your local pilot group, depending on size, to be used as your leaders wish (e.g., pilot unity-building events, family events, grievance meetings, items branded with a Northern Pacific ALPA logo, etc.). The remainder goes to your representatives’ support system: the ALPA staff in the United States, which includes experienced aeromedical, legal, economic and financial analysis, communications, and representation resources, as well as aviation safety and security experts from the world’s largest nongovernmental aviation safety organization (the ALPA Air Safety Organization).

Being a dues-paying member allows you access to a variety of optional pilot-designed insurance programs (for additional cost but at great member rates), including the union’s renowned disability program, among others.

ALPA also has a strong peer support network, and the Pilots for Pilots program aids members and their dependents who fall victim to natural disasters—all included in membership dues.

Review the ALPA Constitution & By-Laws for income exempt from dues.

ALPA’s Worldwide Accident/Serious Incident Hotline connects members to immediate support and professional assistance. Often referred to as the “orange card” for the color on which the hotline information is printed, this critical service is one of the fundamental reasons for ALPA's existence. If you are involved in an aircraft accident or incident, you are entitled to and will receive professional legal and technical representation.

The hotline is staffed 24/7/365 by knowledgeable experts who have extensive experience in aircraft operations. They will provide you with guidance on how to proceed and, if necessary, immediately dispatch a team of experts to assist you. If there is an NTSB investigation, an ALPA accident investigator will be assigned on your behalf. Companies often say they will look after you in the event of an accident, but the end result can be quite different. ALPA is fully committed to supporting your needs, and the protection the union offers continues—even in the unfortunate event of your death, protection will be extended to your estate.

If you do not have an orange card, you can find the emergency hotline information in the ALPA app.