to the Editor
Inherent Biases & Unions
From: R.W. ROLAND RWROLAND@aol.com
While it is true, as you
point out, that every writer has a bias,
it is not true, as you seem to indicate,
that such biases are all-compelling and
thus detrimental to the truth. I spent
35 years flying for what I believe to be
one of the finest airlines in the world,
but that has never prevented me from
pointing out its flaws.
As to your statement, that
there is no correlation between unions
and airline safety, you are dead wrong.
Yes, it is true that union and non-union
pilots alike can and do make careless
and even stupid mistakes that end up
killing innocent and trusting
passengers. Statistics verify that fact.
However, what the statistics cannot tell
us is how many accidents have been
prevented because of the safety efforts
of organized union pilots. No other
organizations, including the FAA and the
NTSB, have contributed more to making
our skies safer than the pilots of ALPA,
APA, IALPA, and other smaller groups of
organized pilots. The safety innovations
brought about by such organized pilot
groups have added immeasurably to air
safety; innovations so numerous that
they would fill volumes.
During my flying career
there were countless safety decisions
that had to be made. Many were not in
the best economic interest of my
carrier, but I made those decisions on
the side of safety without a scintilla
of thought that I might be placing my
career in jeopardy. This cannot always
be said of non-union pilots who, fearing
repercussion from management, often act
against their better judgment in matters
both significant and minor in nature.
Let me end my argument
with two questions:
How many union pilots have
you seen hiding behind concealing
screens and speaking in distorted
voices, testifying before congressional
and other public hearings?
How many non-union pilots?
I rest my case.
Union-protected pilots make a
For more on this subject
Capt. R.W. Roland, ret.
I have never said, nor
implied, that bias is "all-compelling
and thus detrimental to the truth."
The bias statement, on the
home page of AirlineSaftey.Com,
enables the reader to better judge the
objectivity of the writer. Objectivity,
like temperature, is a matter of degree.
I donít believe it is possible for any
human to be 100% objective, but I do see
a big difference between the objectivity
of Benjamin Franklin and that of Adolph
I did not say there was no
correlation between unions
and airline safety. I said I have never
seen any data to support a positive
correlation between safety and pilot pay
or union membership. The
distinction is important.
Bellís letter specifically
addressed the issue of low pay and if it
might affect a pilotís concentration in
the cockpit. If one could produce
objective data, to show a
positive correlation between pilot pay
and the accident rate, then there should
also be a correlation between the
accident rate and union membership,
since higher pilot pay, it is often
argued, comes from union membership
(that too, is debatable).
I have never seen any data
to support the idea that either low pay
or union membership is
correlated to the accident rate. If
anyone out there has such data, then
please send it to me. I will post it on
Mr. Bellís letter, and my
reply, did not address the question of labor
unions and their effect on
airline safety. However, I do thank
Capt. Roland for bringing up that
subject. I think it is worth exploring.
Look for it in the FAQ
section of AirlineSafety.Com, hopefully
in the not too distant future.
to the Letters to the Editor page.