Duane Woerth has been ousted as president of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) in a close election with John Prater, who in January will become the union’s eighth president since its creation in 1931.

ALPA says Prater gained 24,444 of the 47,968 votes cast. Woerth, who was supported by 23,524 members, is currently in his second four-year term.

Capt John Prater

“This decision sends a strong signal to the airline industry that ALPA pilots are prepared to move into a new period of strong, concerted action to rebuild their profession,” says the union in a statement.

Adds Prater: “The airline pilots of the United States and Canada today sent a clear message that their union desires to return to its roots of aggressive bargaining, strict contract enforcement, tenacious organizing, and pilot action to restore our contracts and our profession.

“After five years of concessionary bargaining, lost pensions, and battered work rules, our pilots are primed to take offensive action,” he notes, adding: “This may mean a return to the hard-nosed tactics of earlier years and a grassroots mobilization of each and every one of our members.”

One result Prater wants to achieve is a return on the concessions made by labor during the lean years that marked the beginning of the new millennium. “The airline industry survived because of the concessions pilots and other workers made. Now it is time for us to see a tangible return on these bitter investments,” says the president-in-waiting.

Prater, a Continental Airlines Boeing 767 pilot, has worked within ALPA for 28 years. In this time he has worked as strike committee chairman, as well as master chairman and a vice chairman of the alliance between Continental, Northwest Airlines and KLM, which was known as the Wings Alliance.

ALPA also pointedly notes that Prater has led “union fights against notorious airline management figures Frank Lorenzo [Continental/Eastern Airlines], Carl Icahn [TWA], and Dick Ferris [United Airlines]”.

Flight International's Crew Management Conference 2006 takes place in Brussels on 23 and 24 November. E-mail kieran.daly@flightglobal.com for full details.

Source: FlightGlobal.com