Terms Involved in Contracts of Pilots

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Whether your airline is unionized or not, you will work under a contract. You owe it to yourself, therefore, to be aware of some of the terms associated with contracts and with the unions that represent pilots in contract negotiations. Here are several frequently encountered names, words and phrases:

  • AFA: Association of Flight Attendants

  • ACIO: American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations



  • ALPA: Air Line Pilots Association

  • APA: Airline Pilots Association (at American Airlines)

  • Back-to-work agreement: An agreement, generally a one-time application, governing the terms and conditions of the return to work of striking employees. It may, for example, provide for termination or transfer of permanent replacements to make room for returning employees.

  • Binding arbitration: A contractual agreement to submit a dispute concerning the terms and conditions of the contract or interpretation of the contract to a neutral third party for a decision. Such arbitration is legally binding and is subject to extremely limited judicial review.

  • Cooling-off period: A 30-day period called by the National Mediation Board to allow both parties to reconsider their positions, during which time no changes are made in the contract and a legal strike cannot be called.

  • FEPA: Federal Express Pilots Association

  • IAM: International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers*

  • IBT: International Brotherhood of Teamsters

  • Local Executive Council (LEC): A local governing body for an ALPA chapter, representing the pilots within a local grouping, usually at a domicile.

  • Master Executive Council (MEC): Three members from each LEC in an airline represented by ALPA make up the MEC, or central pilot governing body, of that airline.

  • Mediation: The use of a neutral third party as a buffer in a labor dispute in order to settle the dispute.

  • National Mediation Board: A board established under the Railway Labor Act to intervene on its own initiative, or at the request of any party in a labor dispute, to mediate the dispute or to interpret a contractual provision.

  • Permanent replacement pilot: A pilot hired as a permanent employee to replace an employee on strike. A back-to-work agreement may provide that a permanent re-placement will be displaced by a returning striker. If the permanent replacement is displaced, his rights will be determined by his individual contract with the company.

  • Railway Labor Act: The federal statute governing labor relations in the airline and railroad industries.

  • Scope clause: The extent of the legal obligation of the employer to recognize the union as a representative of its employees. The scope clause may cover a subsidiary or another airline of an employer in a particular case. Scope clauses are used to ensure that all aircraft owned or operated by the company or its subsidiaries are flown by union pilots or maintained by union technicians.

  • Self-help: A broad term generally describing the activity of the employer who attempts to operate during a strike.

  • SWAPA: Southwest Airlines Pilots Association

  • Temporary replacement: An individual who is hired to replace strikers only for the duration of the strike.

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