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.
Despite our policy of not providing commentary regarding arbitration hearings, we would like to take a few moments to discuss one issue argued in the hearings, as it provides an important perspective on where we are today. Specifically, we encourage you to focus on both the opening and closing statements of Ed James, General Counsel of our new union, the Allied Pilots Association (APA). In his statements, Mr. James eloquently describes how APA’s duty of fair representation plays a role in the upcoming McCaskill-Bond process:
“It's almost a prototypical breach as if the Union were to defer to a larger group of -- segment of the workforce it represents, and there's evidence of hostility between that group and another group, for APA to defer is the definition of a breach of duty of fair representation.”
Mr. James further explains that APA’s attempts to accommodate the West pilots is perhaps not something that the overwhelming majority of its members might want, and in fact, AA & APA’s insistence that there be a West merger committee contributed to a several month delay of APA’s succession as our bargaining agent.
While most of you might find APA’s explanation of DFR refreshing in light of USAPA’s long- held view of that same legal duty, we highlight this only because it makes very clearly that the America West pilots would not otherwise be afforded ANY accommodation but for the fact of our viable legal claim, coupled with our demonstrated ability to repeatedly and consistently organize and fund class litigation. USAPA could have never prevailed on the merits of a DFR claim if it unilaterally abandoned the Nicolau Award, but could have easily prevailed had it been successful with its concerted efforts to bankrupt and divide us. It didn’t succeed. And although the courts have so far found that the Railway Labor Act cannot be fairly interpreted to provide us timely justice in our situation, those same courts have consistently recognized the injustice USAPA has visited on us and provided sufficient forward-looking admonitions regarding our seniority situation that our successor union APA has taken quite seriously.
We would like to take a moment to thank our legal team who worked long hard hours this week to put on an incredible case on our behalf: Marty Harper of ASU Alumni Law Firm PLLC, and Jeff Freund, Josh Shiffrin, and paralegal Christine Heffernan of Bredhoff & Kaiser PLLC.
We would also like to thank each and every America West pilot for their ongoing moral and financial support, and to wish all of you and your families a very happy holiday season. We believe the new year will begin with some newfound optimism for our pilot group, and we look forward to speaking to you then.
The America West Merger Committee