As we wait for the NMB to rule on “Single Carrier Status” (SCS) Leonidas, LLC will provide its viewpoint on the legal landscape as we continue to defend against the multiple and unrelenting assaults on our careers and seniority. A finding of SCS will quickly eliminate USAPA’s role as our collective bargaining agent (CBA), and thereafter it will be legally barred from representing anyone. The Allied Pilots Association (APA) will become the CBA for all American Airlines pilots, just as USAPA became the CBA for all US Airways pilots when it was certified by the NMB. Although our legal activity has slowed recently, our fight is far from over. It was clear that shift in strategy was required in order to meet the recent developments in our quest for justice.
Over the past six years, a certain segment of former US Airways pilots have used USAPA as a weapon, engaging in a relentless campaign to denigrate and intimidate the former America West pilots in order to justify their quest to jettison their obligations from 2005. USAPA’s singular goal has been to substitute their own contrived seniority list in place of an agreed upon arbitrated decision arrived at after an arbitrators careful consideration of all the facts and equities of our unique merger situation. West pilot unity has provided a robust defense against an immoral union supported by management.
While we didn't pick this fight, defending ourselves has been worth the effort. Had we not stood up to USAPA the West pilots would have been stapled long ago and there would be no need for APA and the company to consider West pilot interest in a fair SLI process. USAPA’s desperate efforts litigating in Washington DC, and opposing SCS are aimed at keeping the West pilots out of the process at all costs because our presence will prevent USAPA from unilaterally dictating what US Airways seniority list will become part of the integrated seniority list.
As the new minority, USAPA has chosen to turn its tactics against APA and New American with multiple legal actions on multiple fronts designed to prolong its reign and exclude the past and future seniority interests of former America West pilots. USAPA's primary disagreement with APA over the protocol revolves around the inclusion of the former AWA pilots as a separate party to the seniority integration. USAPA also disagrees that APA will have absolute control over the process and the ability to amend the agreements as APA and the company see fit. This was USAPA's very own strategy when it assumed the role as the collective bargaining agent from ALPA. Today, the “shoe is on the other foot” and USAPA leaders do not like the idea that APA may do unto them as USAPA has done unto the West Pilots.
Left to their own devices, USAPA's officers will continue to interfere with the APA, the company, and the fair representation rights for the former America West pilots. A frequently heard question is, “what will happen to USAPA’s treasury fund?” We know West pilots agree with our opinion that it must be promptly returned to the pilots that were forced to pay it. It is almost certain that, without ANOTHER lawsuit, USAPA and its officers will attempt to use West dues money to advance East interests. However, USAPA and its officers will not be afforded any protection under federal labor law. It will be up to the former America West Pilots to ensure this does not happen. For the first time, the USAPA officers will be exposed to personal liability for their actions. Should USAPA continue representing any US Airways pilot after decertification, they will individually and jointly be in contempt of Judge Silver’s order because she clearly ruled (at USAPA's urging) that USAPA could no longer represent any pilots after decertification. True to form, USAPA has already filed a lawsuit in Washington to get the D.C. court to render an opinion opposing the one they convinced Judge Silver to deliver in Arizona. Never assume that USAPA will be consistent or make ethical choices.
Our funding strategy is ever-evolving to meet future challenges. The America West pilots have done an outstanding job voluntarily contributing to pay our past legal obligations, but the fight will continue as long as USAPA’s officers are able to interfere OR the APA decides to withdraw support for a separate West merger committee. Possible legal actions going forward to defend the former America West seniority rights are expected to include the Ninth Circuit appeal, possible contempt charges against USAPA’s officers, and recovering dues money from USAPA. Additionally and more importantly is the funding for a West merger committee. The APA has tepidly committed to nothing more than a few vague references found in the DC litigation documents such as, “[After APA is certified as the single bargaining representative]...'it would assume responsibility for the structure of the pre-merger groups' merger committees consistent with its legal obligations, including the discretion to provide for the separate participation of the West Pilots in the seniority integration process if APA so chooses.'” In order to ensure a fair process, there must be a level playing field, but even this has not been guaranteed and we must be prepared to fund expenses and litigation in real time as the need arises, potentially awaiting repayment of these expenditures in the future.
To make the point clear, the APA and the company believe that three parties are required to have a fair and equitable M/B process under the terms of the merger. The parties are defined as the legacy AA pilots, and the East and West US Airways pilots. For this process to be fair, the West Merger committee must be afforded conditions of participation equal with the other parties. This includes FPL, time off, positive space travel when needed, legal representation, and funding. While we expect some level of funding from the APA for a West merger committee, history indicates more will be required. At the beginning of the 2005 merger, West Pilots were fortunate to have a separate West Merger Fund, which exceeded 1.5 million dollars, to supplement ALPA funds. We can expect this merger will cost substantially more due to its size, complexity, and a decade of inflation. At least in the beginning of this process, we should be prepared to fund our own committee one hundred percent.
Jeff Freund, our former AWA Merger Committee attorney, was instrumental in the Nicolau proceedings. Mr. Freund recently rejoined the West efforts to obtain a fair integration at the New American Airlines. Over the last eight years Mr. Freund negotiated, or helped obtain largely favorable terms for his clients in every major airline merger. Mr. Freund will provide the best representation in our upcoming SLI and is now on retainer to represent the West merger committee. This was possible through the well-established record of West pilots have of supporting Leonidas financially over the years.
To generate the necessary funding for whatever challenges lay ahead, including the possible funding of a West Merger Committee, we are modifying the program by which you can obtain a Leonidas Liberty Tie. While you can still receive a Liberty tie for a one-time donation of $675.00, the ties are now also available for $700.00 on payments through the “Push for Justice” campaign. First Officers may contribute $50.00 per month, and Captains may contribute $100.00 per month. We encourage every West pilot to contribute on a continual basis for as long as it takes to finish this fight!
Go to cactuspilot.com, click on “Contribute to the Legal Effort/The Push for Justice” tab, click on The Push for Justice and contribute through PayPal as a First Officer or as a Captain.