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PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Friday, October 20, 2023

Kicking Over the Checker Board

Because We Didn't Win

On October 7, 2023 I posted an article about an Alaska Mechanic who won his grievance after testing positive for THC: Airlines And Random Drug Testing. He was truly a victim of circumstance. 

This 22-year mechanic has never taken drugs, has never had any work related issues. He's a family man with two children. He is also involved in his community. He attended a block party one day, with many tables of food. It was at this event he inadvertently and unknowingly consumed THC because some idiot put it in their food. He had no idea. He was not impaired. The next Monday he went to work. He happened to get a random drug test. 

During the Grievance Alaska Airlines Stipulated:

1) A positive THC result does not demonstrate impairment.

2) There is no evidence that the mechanic was performing his job in an unsafe manner at or around the time of the drug test at issue.

3) The mechanic completed his SAP evaluation and education program satisfactorily and there is no regulatory bar to his re-employment.

4) The medical and recreational use of marijuana is legal in Washington State.

Alaska Airlines is by far my favorite airline. I was so proud of them for not buying off the arbitrator. I have observed that action far too many times at Delta. Even DALPA reps will tell you that sometimes you have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The pilot be damned. (Note, the only union on Delta's property is a pilot union).

When the arbitrator is bought during the grievance process, or told which way to rule, there is no justice for the employee. But this is the system that the airlines and the unions have contractually agreed to abide by. When the employee loses, they have no option and often find themselves without a job. 

What happens when they win? 

I thought the airline was required to reinstate the employee. Well, they are. But this time Alaska Airlines is arguing against the ruling and taking this mechanic to Federal court! 

Because they lost the ruling, the mechanic won, the airline is now going to stomp its feet and not accept it? That's exactly what happened. 

I see three major problems here:

1) The grievance process is worth nothing if an employee wins and the airline does not have to accept the ruling.


2) That an airline will go out of its way to destroy a person's career for something that they did not intentionally do, of which did not impact safety. 


3) Alaska's policy even allows for flight attendants and pilots to return to duty even if they intentionally smoked Marijuana or take any drugs of any kind. But a mechanic with who didn't know it was happening, is terminated. 

I want to believe that Alaska Airlines
Is better than this...

Should the company have to honor the grievance process when they lose? The employee does. This is simply wrong on so many levels. Is this just being a bad sport? I don't think they will win, but it makes me feel like a Delta tactic when they engaged in a war of attrition against me. If you think Alaska should reinstate the mechanic please tell them at:

Twitter @Alaska Air on

Dr. Karlene Petitt
A350, B777, A330, B747-400, B747-200, B767, B757, B737, B727


  1. “Alaska's policy even allows for flight attendants and pilots to return to duty even if they intentionally smoked Marijuana or take any drugs of any kind. But a mechanic who didn't know it was happening, is terminated.” Your facts are incorrect. Do you really believe pilots and flight attendants can use drugs intentionally and keep their job? Please don’t let the public believe this ridiculous statement.

    1. Yes, it's their policy. They have to go to treatment and then they return to duty. This mechanic went to treatment, even thought it was accidental exposure, and the DOT said there was no reason he could not be returned. But Alaska claims policy that he can't. Quite often policies are different for different groups. If you would like copies of all the documents, email me and I'll provide them.


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