October 26, 2020
“It is true that integrity alone won’t make you a leader,
but without integrity, you will never be one.”
Dear Fellow Pilot:
Delta pilots are foundational to this business’s core – and our history and contributions to Delta Air Lines are important. We were the first employees to produce revenue for Delta in 1924. In 1932 Delta pilots were among the founders of the Air Line Pilots Association. For nearly 90 years Delta and ALPA have worked in a relationship that has enabled us to tackle our challenges together. A cooperative business-like approach to protecting and enhancing our contract has produced results. Contracts have been negotiated and contracts have been honored.
We the Delta pilots have always been there to assist our Company through tough times. At one point that involved helping our fellow employees buy a 767. Fast-forward to the pilots leading the effort to defend Delta against a hostile takeover attempt. And most recently we were the first employee group to troubleshoot and find solutions for the Company during the COVID crisis.
This pandemic has forced us all to be more innovative and creative than ever before. We are dealing with unprecedented issues. Accordingly we’ve stayed actively engaged in negotiations all year with a shared goal of solving problems. I’ve stated many times that these solutions will have to be win/win if we are to find an agreement.
So here’s where we are as November 1 quickly approaches and the lives of 1941 pilots and their families hang in the balance. We received a proposal from management on September 15. We could have simply agreed to it. However based upon polling and direct input from line pilots we did not believe the membership would have ratified that proposal. As such the MEC met discussed potential pathways and directed the Negotiating Committee to engage in informal discussions with the Company working through how to provide furlough protections in a way that was consistent with the feedback from the pilot group. We met several times until mid-October when the Company informed us that it would not engage in further discussion until we were ready to provide a formal proposal.
This was an unexpected setback as the talks had been productive to that point. The MEC started two Fridays ago and worked late into the evenings all weekend to provide the Negotiators with the direction they needed to engage with a counter-proposal. We have been meeting regularly with the Company throughout this past week and have recently made tangible progress.
Time is running short but know that the MEC negotiators and our professional support staff have collectively stayed engaged to solve these problems that were unimaginable by all. As we enter the final week before furloughs could occur we remain willing to contribute to the balance sheet fortification our CFO has articulated is needed to position Delta for a successful recovery. To be clear such contributions are easily attainable when structured to recognize any investment Delta pilots make.
One year ago ALPA actively addressed several quality-of-life improvements and retirement savings options in our Section 6 negotiations. These items would instantly and materially enhance the lives of pilots and our families. These are some of the investments the Company can make today to secure the savings that management is seeking.
Clearly everyone is now at a critical juncture – five days remain to negotiate an agreement that would recognize our investment in positioning the Company for success and eliminating the need to furlough. Understand that what transpires in the next seven days will impact not just the new generation of Delta pilots but also Delta itself for many years to come.
We want to finish what we started in early March when we promptly collaborated with Delta on LOA #20-01 – crafting effective solutions addressing the crisis and preserving what Delta had carefully established in the years post-bankruptcy that fueled our success– our remarkable Brand. We can close a deal that eliminates the need for furloughs reduces cash burn further and provides needed operational flexibility while recognizing such assistance equitably and with a win for the entire pilot group. The danger of not doing so and accepting only a zero-sum outcome will establish a gulf with the pilots of this company. We are the very brand leaders that have helped build that distinguishing trait – a trait that our executives tout to the investment community as the exact reason for achieving a premium over our competition.
To close that deal we need fundamental commitments from management. They must rebuild the pilots’ trust by committing to honoring our agreements and cease violating our contract and bargain in good faith. These are not irrational demands – these are ethics and norms that business partners everywhere practice as they directly reveal their integrity. For 90 years ALPA has honored our agreements. We have upheld our end of the contract and we bargain in good faith even more so in the face of this pandemic.
This past week our CEO referred to the Delta MEC as disagreeable. If staying engaged as we have done is the definition of disagreeable I will wear that badge with pride. However I know we can attain a mutually beneficial win/win agreement with a renewed commitment from management to solving problems.
I have called for a Special MEC Meeting this week beginning at 3:00 p.m. on Oct. 27 and concluding on Oct. 28. This will enable the MEC to be ready to act on a win/win solution. No one knows the Delta pilots better than their MEC representatives. To negotiate a Tentative Agreement only to have it fail in membership ratification serves no one. Rest assured we are engaged in this process but management must address our needs in a collaborative process that also addresses the needs they have publicly conveyed.In unity
Ryan Schnitzler, Chairman
Delta Master Executive Council