This is the second in a series of posts designed to explain the structure and function of your union. Knowing how your union works and who to contact when you have questions or issues you want addressed will help you make the most of your career. In Part I we talked all about local councils/LECs, and this week we’ll focus on the Master Executive Council (MEC). 

What is the MEC?

The Delta MEC is ALPA’s governing body for the Delta pilots. We’ll go into greater detail as to what the MEC does for our pilots later, but in general it oversees ALPA’s primary activities on behalf of Delta pilots, including collective bargaining and resolving grievances. 

Who makes up the MEC?

The status (voting) reps from each local council together comprise the MEC. Currently, the MEC is made up of 19 status reps representing each of our nine local councils: two from each council except Council 44 (ATL) which has four and Council 48 (Instructor) which has one.

In addition to the council reps, there are four elected MEC officers, often called the MEC Administration. These officers – chairman, vice chairman, secretary and treasurer – work on behalf of all members. They serve a two-year term and are elected by the MEC.

What does the MEC do?

The MEC is similar to a legislature: it establishes policies, approves (or rejects) proposed agreements and addresses concerns raised by members and local councils. In addition, it provides direction to the executive branch of the union government, which is made up of the MEC officers and committees.

The process of giving direction to the officers and committees is critical, because the 19 members of the MEC can’t handle every issue. In many cases, a committee or officer will report on a particular issue and recommend possible solutions. The MEC will then direct the committee or officer to work toward one or more of the possible solutions, and then report with a result to be approved by the MEC. Since the MEC elects the MEC officers (and confirms committee chairmen), the legislative and executive branches of the union government usually work with a common purpose.

How does the MEC conduct its business?

The MEC – like any legislative body – acts at meetings by adopting resolutions. Resolutions are written statements expressing a policy or direction (we’ll cover resolutions in-depth in a later installment). MEC meetings must be held at least once every four months, but meetings happen more often during busy periods (like during Section 6 negotiations). Each meeting has an agenda, which lists items to be addressed. The MEC Chairman creates the initial agenda, but any member of the MEC can add items to the list. For the sake of efficiency, the Delta MEC breaks up into three “drafting committees” to give each agenda item an initial review and to propose a resolution that addresses the item. Each proposed resolution is then considered by the entire MEC.

Every MEC action is based on a vote. Most votes are verbal (“those in favor say aye, opposed, say nay”) and many are unanimous. But if the results aren’t clear from the verbal vote, any MEC member can ask for a show of hands to make sure. In addition, any MEC member can demand a “roll call” vote. A roll call vote allows each MEC member to cast one vote for each voting member in his or her council and status. (In other words, if Council X has 300 first officers, then the Council X first officer representative may cast 300 votes.)

How does the MEC fit in ALPA’s national structure?

The ALPA Constitution states that an MEC “shall function as a coordinating council for the membership on that airline” and, as we noted above, the Delta MEC oversees ALPA’s primary activities on behalf of the Delta pilots.

ALPA has national governing bodies, too, and those national groups creates policies and direction applicable to all ALPA members and all ALPA MECs. The national policies and direction are encompassed in the ALPA Constitution and By-Laws and Administrative Manual (both available on alpa.org). Delta pilots have significant input into those national policies through their elected officers, but the Delta MEC alone can’t modify them.

Be sure to catch up on all parts of the Understanding Your Union series:

Local Councils/LECs