The unique experiences of Charles Ruby’s life and career made him an unlikely choice for the Association’s president. But his due to the circumstances surrounding the departures of his predecessors, and the place ALPA was in at the time of his election, it could only have been Charley Ruby.
The striking pilots of Southern Airways resort to unorthodox tactics, including starting their own airline, to win public support, and the federal government intervenes. But this strike tests the Association like no conflict prior. And with the country’s election of a new president – new opportunities for labor arise.
In stark contrast with his fellow airline operators, the president of Southern Airways, Frank Hulse, goes to war with his airline’s pilots by cutting pay and benefits to bolster his own profits. While the pilots are forced to resort to unorthodox and inventive methods to plead their case with the flying public, Hulse takes strike-breaking to a new low by hiring unqualified pilots.
A prank by a pilot in the jumpseat on a scheduled passenger flight highlights the need for more stringent standards on who should be afforded the right to have a seat on the flight deck. But this battle with federal regulators over crew complement would set the foundation for what would be the toughest and most painful period for ALPA in the years to come.
ALPA advocates on behalf of having three pilots working on the flight deck of the new airliners of the post-World War 2 era, but accidents and pilot pranks do little to help the cause, all while one airline’s pilots mull over leaving the Association.
ALPA’s second president Clancy Sayen began his term on the heels of a bitter fight that ousted ALPA’s founder Dave Behncke. Upon his election, Sayen began a top-to-bottom reorganization of ALPA’s governance structure in order to democratize the association. In addition, he took head-on the issue of how the quick advancement of aviation technology impacted productivity, and thus, the pay rates of pilots. With the advent of jet technology, Sayen created the Jet Pay Study Committee to determine how best ALPA could navigate addressing the dual issues of aviation safety and crew complement in the cockpit, while protecting pilot jobs and pay.
In a way, ALPA's second president, Clancy Sayen was a victim of the ouster of ALPA's founder and first president, Dave Behncke. When Sayen joined ALPA, he did not have the presidency in his plans. However, due to his well-spoken and eloquent nature, he started to become noticed by many of his fellow members and quickly ascended to national leadership, which culminated in being chosen to succeed Behncke. The intentional and analytic nature of Sayen came as a stark contrast to Behncke's, and ALPA's culture changed as a result of the Sayen administration.
Against all odds and amidst a quickly shifting industry and labor landscape, ALPA’s first president Dave Behncke continues his fight to maintain his position atop the organization he founded. Questions about the legitimacy of an vote takes the battle for leadership into the courtroom.