Seniority System Outdated


Aug 20, 2002
Other trade unions have a national seniority list and employers pay the Organization to administer pension and medical benefits. They do this because the longevity of the services provided by the members is limited to the length of the project. Hence, they move with the work. Unfortunately, ALPA built itself on the model of a perpetual airline i.e. that there would be no terminus to the company''s operation. In 1978 the architects of deregulation noted that the same companies that were in business in the 30''s were the same as those of the 70''s. Deregulation was designed to inject the business cycle into the industry whereby new entrants would replace old participants on a regular basis. From the consumers'' point of view it encourages low fares as new players have virtually no costs as their maintenance for equipment does not kick in for several years nor do they have retiree costs. On the other hand the employees find themselves working for a series of employers with the company controlling the retirement funds. If it were not for the abuses of the Teamsters in the 70''s there might have been more openess to allowing the Unions to manage these aforementioned areas.
ALPA was approached with the idea of a national seniority list but the proprietary interests of the membership won out. Had they had this system in place with a uniform pay structure (standardizing pilot costs), the industry would not be in the meltdown mode that now exists. Furthermore, pensions and medical coverage would not be in jeopardy as they are today.
One other thought, if all heavy maintenance was covered by the manufacturer and billed uniformly (hence the majority of AMT''s working for the mfr.) there would be no short term advantage afforded new carriers over existing firms which is often the means of displacing legacy carriers. Maybe a little simplistic but the Unions have to follow the business model - they cannot dictate the marketplace.