The resources below are documents prepared by ALPA and offer great insight into the costs and benefits of having proper union representation in the airline pilot industry. On the right side of the page we have posted some snippets from our organizing committee members regarding the benefits of having an organization like ALPA.
The Advantages of an international union
Flying the Line vol 1 & 2
ALPA's contract negotiating team involves professional negotiators, labor relations counsel, financial analysts, attorneys, benefits specialists, and communications specialists. They all work with our elected line pilots, to help organize priorities, establish a negotiation strategy, draft the policy, communicate with pilots and seek feedback, etc. With SAPA, the pilots themselves have the burden of all of these tasks, often without the expertise. Notably, to my knowledge, no one in SAPA is qualified to perform financial analysis of the company and industry to determine the company's ability to compensate the pilots (and even if there is a rep with a finance background, they could resign or be voted out, leaving us with nothing). Also, we've seen that having pilots draft policy without assistance can be problematic. I don't think we would have had the reserve proffering issue if the policy had been drafted by policy experts who have written reserve proffering policy for numerous other airlines.
Additionally, the process for negotiations with a union is quite different from what we have now. With SAPA, the company's participation is purely voluntary. Anything that the company gives up is by it's own good will, as there would never be the option for third-party intervention or self-help (picketing or a strike). No matter how good the SAPA guys could be at negotiating, they have very little leverage to work with, and you can't negotiate without leverage. With a recognized labor union, if the company plays hard ball and we fail to reach a reasonable agreement, we can get mediation. If that fails, we have the option of arbitration, or we could resort to self-help. Certainly, the fewer of those steps that we have to use, the better. But we need to have them in our back pocket, along with a good negotiating support staff, in order to give us something to work with at the negotiating table. It is my personal opinion that we would get our union dues back with gains in our contract, but even if we didn't, the protections and additional services ALPA provides would be worth the cost.