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America West Merger Committee Update January 9, 2015

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We are pleased to announce that the Preliminary Arbitration panel has issued an award granting the America West Merger Committee's request to be designated as an independent, autonomous merger committee in the McCaskill-Bond seniority integration process. The Award states, in part:

 

[T]he Board concludes that APA's designation of a West Pilots Merger Committee is consistent with the Protocol and MOU; is consistent with the McCaskill-Bond requirement that the SLI process be fair and equitable; is a proper and reasonable exercise of its discretion; and is fully consistent with APA's duty of fair representation to all Company pilots. Indeed, in this particular case, the Board concludes that fairness and equity demand the appointment of a West Pilot Merger Committee to participate in the SLI process.

 

We have posted the Award on our website at www.west-merger-committee.com.

 

Although many of you might have believed this arbitration outcome to be a foregone conclusion from the outset, the arbitration itself and the path to get here were anything but certain. Therefore, it is worth taking a few moments to consider the significance of this arbitration award.

 

On April 18, 2008, America West pilots were forcefully robbed of our representational autonomy by a very formidable and spiteful majority known as USAPA. As we all know, the primary purpose of USAPA was to remove any and all authority America West pilots had with regard to the bargaining rights over our seniority, and hand those rights to the East pilots who could then attempt to unilaterally dictate new seniority terms to us. The Preliminary Arbitration Award (PAA) affirmatively returns those rights to their rightful owners: the America West pilots.

 

In other words, we have now officially survived USAPA's reign and have once again assured that our seniority rights can ONLY be resolved according to fair and equitable principles in a fair and equitable process.

 

Today's news also means that the burden of defending or bringing seniority-related lawsuits is no longer that of the West pilots. While it is our hope that USAPA will simply accept this outcome and find ways to work with us moving forward, USAPA's history suggests the likelihood of yet another legal challenge to an arbitrator's decision. However, we believe that both American Airlines and APA entered into the Protocol Agreement fully prepared to defend any legal challenge USAPA may bring, and will succeed at doing so.

Today's news further means that our seniority dispute is officially removed from the uncertainty of the federal court system and rightfully placed back into the very forum in which the Nicolau Award was created: labor arbitration. We will no longer need to advocate for our seniority rights with expensive lawsuits that span many years, decided by federal judges constrained by archaic labor laws. We have now returned a forum that will give proper due to the Nicolau Award and that is extremely capable of affirmatively and permanently resolving our dispute.

 

Having said all of the above, it is now more important than ever that we put aside all of this unpleasant history, but still learn and apply its lessons. Perhaps the largest lesson of the past several years is that the seniority integration MUST be resolved in the agreed-to process, and cannot and will not be resolved in cockpits and crew rooms. And although we have to expect that each committee will have widely disparate views about how our respective seniority lists should be integrated, those views should begin and end within that process. There WILL be an integrated airline at the end of this process this time, we will be sharing cockpits with our counterparts, and none of us wants to come to work in a divided, hostile work environment.

 

Pursuant to the terms of the Protocol Agreement, we will immediately begin efforts to procure employment data from the company and the other merger committees, as well as engage the other committees with regard to preliminary matters.

 

This is a very proud day for the America West pilots. We simply could not be here today without our unity, and your continuing moral and financial support. We look forward to keeping you updated in the coming weeks.

In solidarity,

 

The America West Merger Committee

 

David Braid        Mark Burman        Johan de Vicq

Eric Ferguson       Jeff O'Connell       Russ Payne

Jim Van Sickle      Mitch Vasin        Roger Velez

 

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America West Merger Committee Update December 19, 2014

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The Preliminary Arbitration hearings in Washington D.C concluded on December 17. The hearings spanned three full days, culminating in closing arguments by all parties in the afternoon. The Protocol Agreement asks that the arbitrators issue an award within 30 days of the close of the hearings, which would be Friday, January 16, 2015. 

As we stated in our previous communications, we have adopted the practice of the former AWA ALPA Merger Committee of not providing commentary during the pendency of hearings, and instead posting all hearing transcripts on the internet as soon as they become available. All three days of hearing transcripts are available on our website www.west-merger-committee-com. We did our best to provide an objective summary of the issues that were to be argued in the Preliminary Arbitration before the hearings began, and the transcripts themselves best describe how the parties tackled those issues in the hearing itself. 

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America West Merger Committee Update December 11, 2014

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We regret that the limited number of observer seats at the Preliminary Arbitration have now all been spoken for by RSVP. All America West pilots who have already sent an RSVP will be able to attend, and we will send confirmation emails, along with attendance instructions, directly to you. If you do find yourself in the Washington DC area during the arbitration dates and you would like to attend the hearing, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. the day of the hearing see if space has become available.

 

Despite the limited ability to attend the hearing in person, all pilots will be able to stay informed regarding the proceedings by reviewing the daily hearings transcripts. The hearing transcripts from each day will be posted on our website the day after each hearing day. Our website address is:

 

www.west-merger-committee.com

 

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America West Merger Committee Update December 14, 2014

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Tomorrow, December 15, marks an important day for all America West pilots: the beginning of the Preliminary Arbitration hearings to determine whether or not the America West pilots will be granted the right to autonomously represent ourselves in the upcoming McCaskill-Bond seniority integration process. Or, more importantly, whether or not USAPA will finally be relieved of the ability to unilaterally dictate the US Airways seniority list that will be used for the integration of the American Airlines and US Airways pilots.

 

As we previously reported to you, all parties to the process, American Airlines, APA, the APA merger committee, USAPA, and the East, West, and American Airlines merger committees, have submitted pre-hearing briefs to the arbitration panel. The purpose of the briefs is to explain in advance the dispute and the positions of the parties. We have posted the briefs on our website: www.west-merger-committee.com

 

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America West Merger Committee Update December 9, 2014

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As we previously communicated to you, the Preliminary Arbitration begins next week in Washington DC. Although attendance is open to all pilots, the arbitration hearing is being held in a space-limited law office conference room. Additionally, the law office is located within a secured office building, and the security guards will only permit registered visitors into the building. This necessarily means that we cannot guarantee that all who submit an RSVP will be permitted to attend due to space constraints, and the law firm has asked us to require RSVP of those wishing to attend.  Therefore, each pilot planning to attend MUST RSVP as follows: