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Leonidas Update September 22, 2014

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014, USAPA was terminated as the Collective Bargaining Agent (CBA) for the US Airways pilots – West and East, and the APA was certified as the exclusive bargaining agent for all New American pilots. Within hours of this announcement, USAPA filed yet another lawsuit (click here) against West pilots and in particular, Roger Velez who was officially “served” on Saturday. 

USAPA left the world of certified collective bargaining agents exactly as it arrived - by filing a lawsuit against West Pilots. This is the fifth time USAPA has brought a lawsuit against West pilots in a little over six years. In May of 2008, less than six weeks after it was certified by the NMB, USAPA sued 24 “named” West pilots and 100 “John/Jane Doe” West pilots under the Federal RICO statute (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act). This lawsuit was promptly dismissed “with prejudice.” Undeterred, USAPA then appealed and the dismissal ruling was upheld. Subsequently, USAPA initiated another lawsuit (accompanied by a smear and misinformation campaign) against three West pilots for alleged identity theft. This lawsuit (and related efforts to have any and every state Attorney Generals take action on USAPA's behalf) did not progress, as the allegations were clearly baseless and aimed at illegally silencing dissent within USAPA. Later, USAPA filed another lawsuit in American’s bankruptcy court in an attempt to stop West pilots from pursing their seniority rights. This lawsuit was promptly dismissed as well. Now, USAPA has expressly named Roger Velez, the Certified West Pilot class, and Leonidas, LLC in another lawsuit asking the court to determine USAPA’s responsibility for dues disgorgement to all USAPA Members. 

It seems as though USAPA holds strong animus towards Roger in addition to others who would stand up to it, like Eric Ferguson. Roger has been directly named in two of the five suits so far, and Eric has been named directly or implicitly in all of USAPA's lawsuits. Eric and Roger, among many others, have been selfless pilot advocates for a number of years while standing up for West pilots' rights in many different areas including plaintiff class representative, domicile vice-chairman, and most recently, both have been named members of the pending West Merger Committee. Just a few days before USAPA became the former bargaining agent (FBA), Roger sent a demand letter (click here) to the FBA's officers. This letter was written on behalf of ALL US Airways pilots seeking our rightful refund of dues. For some reason, this time USAPA chose to sue only Roger by name and Eric as a manager of Leonidas LLC. Let’s not forget for a second that the sole reason for the formation of USAPA was to abrogate the Nicolau Award (Addington vs. USAPA I, Exhibit 14). It begs the question that most everyone will quickly realize: Are Roger and Eric being targeted by USAPA in its continued quest to abrogate the Nicolau Award so it can replace it with the East’s own extreme and unyielding seniority list? This is the obvious conclusion to be drawn from the FBA’s action. 

Let’s face some facts here and now: As of last Tuesday morning, all US Airways pilots are represented exclusively by the Allied Pilots Association. It is clear the USAPA officers are confused and/or delusional as to their rights, duties, obligations and limitations as they have already clearly exceeded any “authority” they might have to act on behalf of their “members.” Current USAPA officer (and USAPA founder) Stephen Bradford again wasted no time squandering money by suing former America West pilots and using our own money against us. The officers must be keenly aware that they would be unable to raise funds for such a purpose (unlike the West pilots’ robust voluntary fundraising), forcing them to take the risky move of using funds they have no clear and ongoing right to use to for their own nefarious purposes. Remember, USAPA obtained its treasury surplus while acting as the legal administrator of US Airways pilots under Section 29 (Union Security Clause) of both contracts. What zealot believes he could then convert these compulsory dues for voluntary purposes unrelated to collective bargaining and contract enforcement on behalf of the members? We wonder how long APA will stand by and allow one subset of its membership to sue another subset. Say it isn’t so, but that sure looks like dual unionism and has the potential of creating a DFR violation for APA. 

The latest lawsuit is, without question, the continuation of Bradford's deep-seated hostility toward the AWA pilots and yet another attack on the alternate dispute resolution (ADR) process. This was the very reason for USAPA’s creation and remains the very reason for its continued existence. Now as a FBA, USAPA is again aiming to stop the Nicolau Award by using monies it received from all US Airways pilots by way of collecting compulsory dues to harass West pilots and limit our ability to prosecute our legal rights. It's the same as it ever was, but we believe the realization that USAPA's Officers now lack any protection under the RLA will catch up with them harshly. USAPA's long history of being hostile to a number of arbitrators and judges when a decision didn’t comport with their overly-ambitious and unrealistic expectations will likewise come back to haunt them some day soon too. The former CBA’s arbitration track record includes recently suing an arbitrator in Federal Court to vacate a decision. Dismissal was the predictable outcome of that lawsuit which did nothing to help USAPA's abysmal reputation among the small community of arbitrators. Likewise, USAPA and many East pilots accused Judge Wake of bias and George Nicolau of being old and senile!

Whether a particular pilot, or group of pilots, likes or dislikes an arbitrator’s award is really irrelevant. Once two parties agree that an arbitration is to occur, the resulting decision is sacrosanct. USAPA's biggest supporters now fear, more than anything else, the APA doing to it what it has sought to do to West pilots all along. Fortunately for them, West pilots haven't caved to their bullying and harassment so Bradford's perverse theory of changing the name of your bargaining agent to evade the result of an arbitration remains unproven. This is exactly why Roger’s ongoing advocacy for a particular arbitration (with the unwavering support of all AWA pilots) is the penultimate example of being “good union pilots.” We are protecting the arbitration process now, and into the future. The former bargaining agent has been acting to destroy the sanctity of arbitration for all union members (and labor as a whole), not enhancing arbitration as they should have. 

This lawsuit, like all the other USAPA lawsuits, is designed to specifically stop West pilots from pursuing their arbitrated seniority rights, and to intimidate and oppress West pilots into giving up their rights, as well as to deplete the West pilots’ finances via ongoing litigation fees and expenses. It hasn't worked before, and it won't work now. It's just another example of poor judgment and wishful thinking on their part and it is our expectation that it will make for a redoubling of commitment from West pilots to see justice prevail. 

Is USAPA attacking Roger because he has volunteered to be a member of the West Merger Committee? Appointing a West merger committee is an obligation that APA asserts is their right and responsibility as the exclusive bargaining agent to provide the fair seniority integration process required by McCaskill-Bond (M/B), a fair seniority process USAPA has always opposed since its inception. Now, USAPA seeks to interfere with APA’s duty to fairly represent all pilots by undermining the ability of a West Merger Committee to adequately represent the West pilots in a preliminary arbitration and subsequent SLI arbitration. 

While all of this is going on, the SLI process is moving forward. Last Thursday, USAPA and APA announced the arbitrator selection for the SLI. Dana Eischen, Ira Jaffe, and M. David Vaughn. On Wednesday, September 24, 2014, the selection of arbitrators by USAPA and APA for the Preliminary Arbitration is expected to be announced. 

Regarding the current lawsuit, our attorneys are reviewing USAPA’s DJ filing and will ensure the best course of action and most effective response. In the meantime, it is recommended that no one makes any changes regarding USAPA membership and that we remain focused on the Preliminary Arbitration. 

All this activity requires continued funding for the attorneys and the West Merger Committee in preparation for the M/B arbitration. Continued contributions are essential to this effort. While we hope for some funding assistance one day, the other parties have made it clear that West pilots are on our own financially for the foreseeable future. We are participants in a process that was forced upon us which purports to be “fair and equitable” despite the other parties awareness of the disparate facts outlined herein. 

Thank you for your ongoing support. We will succeed so long as we do not waiver or quit. 

Sincerely, 

Leonidas, LLC 

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Leonidas Update September 16, 2014

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Today, the NMB certified the Allied Pilots Association as the exclusive bargaining agent for all flight deck crewmembers of US Airways. You can read the NMB determination here. Effective immediately, USAPA no longer has the legal status of a collective bargaining agent. 

USAPA is still in possession of a substantial amount of dues monies, collected from US Airways pilots for the purpose of collective bargaining - a purpose which they cannot fulfill anymore. A demand letter was sent on Friday September 12th to USAPA officers and counsel which notices USAPA for the remittance of all funds in excess to concluding USAPA's business as a exclusive bargaining agent required under the law. You can read the demand letter here

Additionally, a Litigation Hold Letter was sent to USAPA attorney Brian O’Dwyer for the retention of all USAPA records. 

Finally, we encourage all West pilots to apply for membership to our new collective bargaining agent. The APA has a convenient online application, which you can access here

Thank you all for your continued support. 

Sincerely, 

Leonidas, LLC 

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West Pilots Class Rep Update

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As we are certain you know, mediated negotiations called for by the NMB to achieve a SLI Process Agreement have been ongoing between APA, New American, and USAPA in Washington, D.C. since August 5. Noticeably absent in the process has been any representative advocating for the unique interests of the West pilots.


Today, the USAPA BPR, over the objections of the Phoenix Reps, ratified the tentative agreement resulting from those mediated negotiations, subject to reaching modification of the Agreement with APA and the Company on one matter not related to our principal issue: the status of a Committee representing West pilots. We assume that the parties will resolve that issue, one way or another, in relatively short order. If so, more details about the Agreement will surely appear in the days ahead.

By the terms of the Agreement it is plainly evident that USAPA has once again demonstrated that they only intend to represent East US Airways’ pilot seniority interests. One only has to read the inaccurate and inflammatory September 3, 2014 USAPA Merger Committee update , and compare that with the actual language of the Protocol Agreement to understand the depth USAPA will go to deny West representation in the coming SLI. The West pilots must be afforded the same status, rights, and privileges as the other two pilot groups specified in the MOU. This was one of the key factors leading to our support of the MOU and merger with American Airlines in the first place. 

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Leonidas Update September 12, 2014

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September 4th APA, American Airlines and USAPA produced the Protocol Agreement to set the rules that will govern the seniority single list integration. The company and our future union, APA, agreed to this Protocol, despite admonitions from Judge Silver expressing concerns over USAPA’s ability to truly represent the West pilots. APA and American Airlines should exercise extreme caution when dealing with USAPA, since their word or agreements cannot be trusted. 

The Protocol Agreement, PA, recognizes USAPA’s merger committee even after USAPA is decertified. Meanwhile, West pilots are forced to arbitrate whether or not we will have our own merger committee representation. The Protocol Agreement itself is evidence that USAPA’s interests are diametrically opposed to ours. The events of the last eight years highlight the distinction between legal and ethics. There is no other way to describe a system that provides cover for USAPA to collect dues from the very group they attempt to oppress. There is a level of disappointment however when USAPA is aided by management and our future collective bargaining agent. 

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Leonidas Update July 17, 2014

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All New American pilots are likely aware of the growing disagreements between USAPA and the Allied Pilots Association. These matters include a dispute over Single Carrier Status before the NMB, a lawsuit in the Federal District Court in Washington DC in which USAPA seeks, an order declaring that the McCaskill-Bond Amendment requires that the integration of the seniority lists of US Airways and American pilots must be completed pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Allegheny-Mohawk Labor Protective Provisions (Allegheny-Mohawk LPPs), and the failure to negotiate a Seniority Integration Protocol Agreement. The last item has recently become the subject of a very public and open dispute between APA and USAPA. You may read USAPA's account of events here , and APA's version here For additional foundational information, reference APA's latest proposal for a protocol agreement found here . We are pleased that the process is getting so much attention by both parties, yet remain skeptical that West Pilots will be fairly represented by either union.