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American Airlines Pilots Association Rejects Possible Merger With Much Larger Union

American Airlines Pilots Association Rejects Possible Merger With Much Larger Union

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A possible merger between the union that represents pilots at American Airlines and a much larger union which acts for 67,000 pilots at a raft of U.S. and Canadian carriers, including Delta, United and JetBlue, has been dealt a deathblow after the board of directors of the Allied Pilots Association voted against proceeding with merger negotiations.

The Allied Pilots Association (APA) represents around 15,000 pilots at American Airlines and is the largest independent pilots union in the world. Since last November, a small union committee has been exploring whether a merger with the Air Lines Pilots Association (ALPA) would benefit its members.

The committee was set up after a poll of members concluded that the majority wanted to explore a possible merger with ALPA. Just over half of the union’s membership took part in the poll and 67% of those said they wanted to explore a merger.

In April, the merger committee said it couldn’t find any obvious roadblocks to a merger and put the matter to APA’s board of directors for a decision as to whether to proceed to Phase 2 of merger talks.

During a June 1 meeting of the board of directors, however, the 20-member board voted to reject moving merger talks forward. Ten members of the board voted in favor, while ten voted against the merger, leading to a tiebreak automatic no vote.

Due to its sheer size, ALPA has been lauded for its political clout in Washington DC, although the union has, on occasion, taken a different view than APA on hot buttons topics.

During the pandemic, for example, ALPA came out in support of widespread COVID vaccination, and the United branch did not oppose the airline’s vaccination mandate. In contrast, APA vocally opposed vaccine mandates and supported the right of pilots to choose whether they have the Covid vaccine.

Some APA members, however, believe ALPA have performed better in contract negotiations and have lauded the union’s ability to win an industry-leading contract at Delta.

The APA recently reached an agreement in principle on its own contract talks, although negotiations on contract language is still ongoing and members are yet to vote on the deal.

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