1943 – Establishment of the Sick Benefit Mutual Aid Plan
In 1943, the Sick Benefit Mutual Aid Plan (SBMAP) was established at Chicago & Southern Air Lines at a time when company provided sick leave benefits did not exist. The program was made available to all Chicago & Southern pilots and copilots. However, if a pilot chose not to become a member of the SBMAP at its inception, he forfeited his right to become a participant in the future. As new pilots were hired, they were given 6 months join and required to pay an entrance fee of $30. Assessments were made on an as needed basis, but they were not to exceed $10 for captains or $5 for copilots in any given month. All monies were deposited into a reputable bank as a working fund administered by the four-member Board of Trustees and were used to pay benefits to disabled pilots for up to eleven months from the date that he was released from duty. The maximum benefit any pilot could receive in one month was $600 for captains and $300 copilots.
1953 – Sick Benefit Mutual Aid Plan became Pilot’s Mutual Aid with merge
Following the merger of Chicago & Southern Air Lines and Delta Air Lines in 1953, Delta’s MEC adopted the SBMAP and established the new “Pilot’s Mutual Aid” (PMA). The original SBMAP was amended with many changes including:
Plan benefits began after the expiration of the newly provided company sick leave benefits.
PMA benefits were extended to last a maximum of 14 months.
Assessments were set at a rate of 1% of the monthly salary of all pilots and the initial entry fee of $30 was dropped.
A death benefit was added in the amount of $500 for captains and $250 for co-pilots and was paid immediately upon a member’s death to his surviving beneficiary.
Later that same year, the death benefit was increased to $1,500 regardless of the pilot’s position and was to be delivered to the beneficiary no more than three days after the member’s death.
1963 – Pilot’s Mutual Aid became Delta Pilots Mutual Aid
In 1963, the plan was renamed “Delta Pilots Mutual Aid” (DPMA) and several more changes were made to the plan. Benefits were paid for a maximum of 12 months. The amount was now based on the Final Average Earnings (FAE) of the pilot’s income over the 3 months preceding the disability, and the benefit payout rate decreased as a member’s age increased beyond 54 years up to 60 years at which time a member’s benefits ceased. The death benefit was increased to $2,000 and no dues were assessed for a pilot’s last year of membership.
1987 – DAL merger with Western increases DPMA membership
Delta Air Lines merged with Western Air Lines in 1987, and subsequently all Western pilots on active flying status and under the age of 60 were automatically incorporated into DPMA membership on January 1, 1988 unless a pilot did not wish to join and notified DPMA, in writing, to decline membership. While there were two Western pilots who went out on disability between October 1st and January 1st of 1988 who were not covered by DPMA, a vote passed at the spring meeting of the Board to provide benefits to the two disabled pilots anyway. Also at that meeting, the Board discussed and decided to reaffirm non-coverage of pregnant pilots.
1991 – Benefits extended to pregnant pilots
Until 1989, Delta Air Lines had handled all of DPMA’s booking, payroll deductions, and distribution of payments
and the Delta MEC was responsible for approving all changes to the Delta Pilots Mutual Aid plan. When Delta
began to extend its disability benefits to female pilots, the Senior Vice President of Personnel sent a letter to
DPMA advising the organization that Delta would not continue to provide administrative support if DPMA would
not also extend its benefits to pregnant pilots. Although it was not until 1991 that the Board decided in a close
vote to extend benefits to pregnant pilots, Delta continued to provide uninterrupted service and support to DPMA
during this time. Also in 1991, the ALPA MEC voted to sever ties with DPMA and the Board of Trustees became
the autonomous governing body of the organization.
1993 – 1996 - DPMA becomes an independent organization
In 1993, Delta Air Lines advised DPMA that Delta could no longer provide the level of administrative services that they had in the past. Delta was concerned that if any member should choose to take legal action against DPMA, that they would seek out the deeper pockets of Delta Air Lines. As a result, DPMA was asked to remove their money from the Delta coffers. Prior to 1992, it had been up to the disabled pilot to contact DPMA and request benefits. However, as DPMA was becoming independent, Delta began to provide DPMA with a list of all pilots that would run out of sick leave during the following month. DPMA Trustees would then reach out to personally contact these pilots and send them a copy of the newly created Disability Hints document.
In January of 1996, DPMA became it’s own entity with only limited administrative duties provided by Delta Air Lines including the deductions of premiums from members’ flight pay check and transferring the monies to a DPMA bank account, the calculating of benefits due to clients based on DPMA’s benefit chart, and advising DPMA when a pilot ran out of Sick Leave.
On January 1st, 1996, Delta’s Alcohol Rehabilitation Program, for which DPMA had been a strong advocate, became effective and benefits coverage was extended for this disease.
1997 – 1998 – DPMA hires Harvey Watt & Co.
Due to increased workload on the trustees as a result of the organization’s newfound complete autonomy, the board began to explore the idea of administrative outsourcing. Harvey Watt & Co. was contacted and negotiations began. By the end of 1997, the board authorized DPMA to enter into an administrative agreement with Harvey Watt & Co. to provide certain administrative functions for DPMA. January 1, 1998, the first DPMA office was established with Harvey Watt & Co acting as the 3rd Party Administrator.
Due to discrimination charges brought forth against DPMA but for which DPMA was deemed not liable, the by-laws were amended to clarify that membership and benefits terminate at age 60 or upon earlier retirement and to read that a member must return to the payroll in order to be eligible to receive second 12 months of DPMA coverage.
1998 – 2000 – Improvement to DPMA member services and benefits
In 1998, DPMA developed a statistical database of the type of disabilities, illness lengths, and payouts that DPMA experienced, which helped DPMA better forecast it’s financial needs in the future and gain useful information towards helping pilots with preventive health information.
A life insurance policy was purchased from Great Southern Life through Harvey Watt & Co. death benefit was increased to $10,000. Also, DPMA hired the first full time employee to work at Harvey Watt with the title Executive Administrator.
In 1999, the IRS ruled that DPMA benefits are not taxable.
2002 - 2006 – DPMA gains VEBA status with IRS ruling 501(c)(9).
The Third Party Administrator arrangement with Harvey Watt & Company ended in 2002 and the DPMA Administrator became directly employed by DPMA. The first independent DPMA office was opened at 1003 Virginia Avenue, and a second employee was hired to help with strategic planning for disability rates. DPMA received VEBA status in a ruling from the IRS.
In May 2003, the DPMA board approved a motion to “Pre-fund the Plan with all funds to be utilized for the original intents and purposes of DPMA.” This was the beginning of the current DPMA Trust Fund for projected disability liabilities.
In 2005 DPMA’s third employee joined the DPMA office staff as the offices moved to the Delta Community Credit Union building.
2008 – DAL and NWA merger creates FNWAP program
The Northwest Airline Pilots and Delta Air Lines pilots approved the Joint Collective Bargaining Agreement (JCBA)
on August 11, 2008. As a result, DPMA agreed to administer the disability program for the Former Northwest Airline
Pilots (FNWAP), which is a contract specified benefit that closely mirrors the DPMA program. FNWAP enrollment
began December 15, 2008; and the first two Client Care Specialists (CCS’) were hired to help with the increase in
pilot care workload and disability cases.
2013-2017 – DMPA recent history
The DPMA office was moved to 100 Hartsfield Centre Parkway, Suite 330 in March 2013. The Survivor Benefit ($15,000 upon death of a member) was amended to cover “a member in good standing and on the Delta Pilots Seniority List,” which effectively expanded the survivor benefit to members who had exhausted all of their DPMA benefits (730 days of disability benefits).
In 2014, Delta began significant hiring of new pilots, which resulted in 972 new DPMA members out of 974 new hires who were eligible to join.
Kathi Nutting was hired as DPMA’s first and current Executive Director effective May, 2015.
In April, 2017, our Benefits Manager, Patty DeJesus, was the first employee to retire from DPMA.
For a complete timeline of our history click here.