What’s a good deal look like to AA pilots?

Change or divorce in marriages is a traumatic time for all sides.  The relationship between AA pilots and AA management has been a classic co-dependent and hostile relationship for a pretty long time now.  Both sides have been doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.

What’s a good deal look like to AA pilots?

I think it’s divorce.  Right or wrong, I think the pilots see a relationship with their management that is so toxic that they just simply want out.  Since there is more of them than there are management, the pilots want management gone.  They want a fresh slate with someone new.

Its not entirely unreasonable for them to want this.  It has been a toxic relationship but . . . change doesn’t mean things get better either.  The desire to see someone, anyone else in leadership at AA could lead to driving change that is worse.

It seems to me that the leadership at the AA pilots union, the Allied Pilots Association, needs as much restructuring and change as the executive leadership at AA.

Frankly, not only am I not a fan of AA executive leadership, I’m in violent agreement that it needs to change.  It’s mediocre at best and pretty awful at its worst.

But it got there, in part, with help.  Unions at American Airlines drive their points with a baseline from the 1980s.  Sadly, the airline industry doesn’t operate in the 1980s and, frankly, the 1980s were not a healthy time for airlines anyway.

We think that everyone just wants more money.  I suspect that that isn’t entirely true.  For instance, I suspect that AA pilots would like to see less stagnancy in their positions at the airline.  I think they would like to see a better quality of life that allows them to work hard but also experience a life outside AA.  I think they would like to experience some new challenges and get to expand their world view as much as anyone else.

But it won’t happen without  a fundamental change in the leadership at the union.  That leadership has been so focused on taking power and using it to ding the AA executive leadership that it has lost sight of what is truly good for its membership.  There are no self-examining conversations about how to work in a change industry and achieve job satisfaction and reward.  I think David Bates, former APA President, tried to start that conversation but I think the structure of leadership at the APA made it impossible to do.  There was and is more reward for the Board of Directors to second guess and undermine the president of that union.

This isn’t just true for the APA.  I believe the APFA needs a similar change in structure and a similar conversation about how to achieve more job satisfaction and reward in a changed industry.

Until those conversations happen, it’s unlikely that anyone is going to be happy with any of the choices in leadership for AA at this point.


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