My ONA and Other
by Al Quack
EAL Flt Eng's on Strike Hand out Info '62'
Al Quack in Eastern uniform 1957
Al Quack in Eastern uniform 1957
Al Quack Flight Engineer Eastern
Al Quack Eastern Flt. Eng. 1959
The Real Story of the Eastern Flight
Engineer’s Strike in 1962
EAL Picket Car 1962
In May 1962 Eastern Flight Engineer’s went on strike
(FEIA Union) because we had been without a contract for
almost a year. The Eastern Pilots had already negotiated
that they needed a third Pilot onboard aircraft that had
a F/E, since they couldn’t get the F/E’s seat at that time.
This setup caused confusion and many pilot gripes to the
company and union about their third pilot being displaced
from his seat behind the Captain by the FAA Inspector,
during FAA Check Rides. Actually the Pilots Union ALPA
threatened a strike if Eastern didn’t implement the third
Finally Eastern told the Pilots that the third Pilot had
no duties in the cockpit and not required by FAA, so was
eliminated from the cockpit. We wanted a guarantee that
the 600 Professional F/E’s (F/E which also has a FAA,
A & P Mechanics Lic.) employed at Eastern would have the
first rights to the Flight Engineer’s seat before any
Pilot/Engineer’s (Pilot with a F/E’s Lic., but no FAA
A & P Mechanics Lic.) Eastern hires or trains after us.
What the Pilots Union ALPA really wanted now since they
lost the third Pilot, was for the F/E’s to come under
the Pilots Union, eliminating the F/E’s Union FEIA all
together. To do this they suggested to the company that
they require the F/E’s to have pilot licenses and we
would have to join their union at the bottom. Guess who
gets laid off first? I picketed outside of Eastern Air
Lines Terminal at Boston Logan Airport, when asked to
by the Flight Engineer’s Union. Later we took turns
driving a older picket car painted up (Day-Glo Orange)
with signs painted all over it, “Don’t Fly Eastern,
It’s Unsafe” and etc. around the airport that one of
our Flight Engineer’s owned and had painted up.
EAL L-188 Electra N5501
Eastern decided that the quickest way to get the Airline
back in operation after the strike, would be to get as
many F/E’s back without a contract, to use them to train
the Pilots for their F/E seat and wouldn’t offer them any
guarantees of continued employment afterwards. So after
being on strike for a little over three months, Eastern
sent out telegrams to all F/E’s that offered the F/E’s a
job, but with No Union and No guarantees on how long the
job would last. Also we would have to get our own FAA
Commercial Pilots Lic. & Instruments rating on our own
time and money, but we could never bid on a Pilots opening.
This also doesn’t make any sense as most of us, if we had
obtained our FAA Commercial & Instruments ratings, we would
have more FAA licenses in our pockets than the Captain flying
the aircraft and getting paid a lot less, not to mention
the fact, we could never bid on a pilots position within
the company. Well I had a family and no job prospects at all,
but I wasn’t going to give in to Eastern and their unfair way
of treating their pass loyal employees. I didn’t go back
under those requirements and so didn’t 499 other Eastern
F/E’s either, but 100 F/E’s did. Then after most of us
turned down Eastern’s offer to come back under their
ridiculous terms, they locked us out of our jobs.
Our case filed by FEIA Union was never heard in any Civil
or Federal court; it kept being referred back to each other
as not in their jurisdiction.
Finally a year and a half later President John F. Kennedy
ruled that this case only affected 600 Flight Engineers
and it wasn’t in the interest of the Nation (to spend
Federal money on) to hear it. Thanks President Kennedy!
But what most people don’t know is, he had and so did all
Presidents before him and since him have five to six
Professional Flight Engineers assigned to the Presidents
aircraft and later called Air Force One, since they were
implemented. So we never got our hearing in court to
protest the illegal union tactics used by ALPA.
I could go on and tell how Eastern blocked all of us
ex-Eastern Flt. Engineer’s from getting other jobs in
all the aviation fields after the strike, but I won’t.
Like my wonderful wife Jeri always said: “If it hadn’t
been for the strike, you wouldn’t have flown, all over
the world”. She’s right as always and I probably would
not have flown for ONA either and met and worked with a
lot of very nice people, that would have been a great
loss to me.
Fall of 1962 I still didn’t have a job and couldn’t
find any aviation jobs, most all the jobs I applied
for (not Aviation related) said I was over qualified
for the job and my past salary was higher than most
of their own managers. They also knew if I was offered
an aviation mechanic’s or Flt. Engineer job, I would
quit and leave for it since it was my line of work and
would pay more. So as they say, “I was caught between a
rock and hard place” under these circumstances.
In May of 1963 Walbar Machine Products, Inc. in Stoneham,
MA finally hired me and later they opened up another
shop in Peabody, MA, which I moved to. I was hired as
a Quality Control Inspector of machine parts and later
did some Source Inspection of Castings down in New Jersey.
I worked there till Saturn called Mar. of 1966, offering
me a Flt. Engineer’s position on their DC-7’s based out
of JFK, NY, which I accepted.