The Southern Airways Strike of 1960: ALPA’s Epic Battle Over Fair Pilot Wages

Air Line Pilots Association archivist Bart Bealmear shares the history of ALPA’s shrewd 1960 strike against regional carrier Southern Airways over pilot wages. The strike began on June 5, 1960 and launched a costly two-year legal and tactical battle in which ALPA created its own competitor airline, Southern hired poorly-qualified scab pilots funded partially by the government, and the union strategically appealed a ruling in its own favor to preempt and scuttle Southern’s appeal. The founder and president of Southern Airways, Frank Hulse, finally capitulated in September 1962 when an investor in the airline threatened to sell a controlling stake to ALPA to end the strike. Although the longest and costliest strike in ALPA’s history, the union considers the Southern Airways Strike of 1960 as its magna carta, key to protecting the wages of pilots at smaller airline carriers for decades to come.

Related Collections
ALPA President’s Department Records
George Hopkins Papers
Clarence N. Sayen Papers

More Information
Blog post: The Southern Airways strike of 1960: ALPA’s epic battle over fair wages for pilots

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Host: Dan Golodner
Interviewee: Bart Bealmear
Sound: Troy Eller English

With support from the Reuther Podcast Collective: Bart Bealmear, Elizabeth Clemens, Meghan Courtney, Troy Eller English, Dan Golodner, and Paul Neirink